Firing off their second warning shot prior to the realization of their first full-length later this year Melbourne, Australia-based 80’s death metal trio Evoker bring an intense and violently decerebrated first official release with ‘Evil Torment’, a blackened death/thrash metal EP hearkening back to a primal age where extreme thrash variants were appearing too quick and far too underground to be neatly defined. Evoker aren’t taking any wild risks while gnashing and blasting their way through these six evil thrashers, inspiring some great confidence in their collective ability to capture classic underground death metal spirit but doing so without providing any major suggestion of their own point of view beyond tasteful sorceries of old.
This time around we’re treated to some intensification of Evoker‘s blackened thrash and death/thrash influences which’ll feel like some strong progression beyond their first demo (‘Demo 2018‘, 2018) which’d leaned more towards demo-era Pestilence rattling off chunkier, more obtuse riffing compared to the trilling and wailing slashes of ‘Evil Torment’. The ear shattering wiles of Messiah‘s ‘Hymn to Abramelin’ and the Teutonic thrash influenced attack of Merciless ‘Behind the Black Door’ demo are some early dots I’d connect in divining the blasting thrust of songs like “Old Evil” but early Protector (‘Misanthropy’ EP) and Imperator‘s ‘The Time Before Time’ LP are reasonable enough suggestions of what primal and rapacious spheres Evoker inhabits, dark enough to satisfy a Bathory-fueled thrasher but aggressive enough to beguile a Sadistic Intent die-hard. Not only do they capture the sound and youthful rebellious spirit of extreme thrash’s cruelest innovators but riff-heads will be happy to pick up a record that grinds out classic death/thrash guitar interest front to back.
Without the classic extreme metal nerd part of my brain tingling and looking more objectively at the compositions and performances here no doubt the appeal here rests in the implications of sub-genre specific style and riffs-per-minute ratio, “Exhumation of the Damned” is the best showcase for this as it snaps into a ‘Death After Death’-esque riff tirade (see also: “Sacrilicious Lust”) to start and eventually slides into a series of performative shifts that exemplify where extreme late 80’s thrash would eventually find its death metal rhythms, the 1:40 minute mark being a direct 1987 thrash-ism that’d carry from albums like ‘Schizophrenia’ through early 90’s death metal classics. The song also highlights some wet almost digital distortion on the bass, it brings a bit of DigiTech stink to the moment that I might not have liked initially but it’d been a moment I remembered when reflecting upon the full listen. Otherwise they’ve got riffs, a solid but dirty 80’s death metal sound, and some fiery blackened moments to remind you where they’re hailing from — ‘Evil Torment’ is a strong introduction to Evoker and good enough reason to anticipate their coming full-length. A moderately high recommendation.
Moderately high recommendation. 3.75/5.0
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