EVOKE – Seeds of Death (2020)REVIEW

All that is sown in the Earth is inevitably corrupted, subject to reeking decay and what stench rises amounts to frailties passed from book to book, pulpit to pulpit where conversion is feigned, mortality wished away, ego-death forced and false morality stoked by cowardice in numbers. There can be no further lies of salvation told to the already shambling corpse of mankind, the punishment of existence as a toothless cog within today’s ignem magnum imperium is cruel enough! Deny the cross and worship the invincible force of reality’s slapping hand: The stabbing strokes of evil thrash metal guitar riffs bearing revelation and deeper incantation of our ready-scorched soil. Witching, reaping, wailing and echoing shocking death through endless halls the Norwegian extreme thrash metal reality today is fire, brimstone and destruction enough to light eternal the timeless craft for future generations. Evoke is next in line, the latest blood-streaked thrasher at the podium and their debut full-length ‘Seeds of Death‘ is a church burner, grotesquely pure and merciless slashing whips of body-wrenching violence and energetic crush to motivate defiance and focus the mind away from the chaotic idiocy of humanity’s anthropo-scenic fall from a high place.

Year over year nobody kills it quite as consistently as Norway when it comes to high-class total death worship in the form of evil thrash metal and the trio of heshers in Evoke have had blood on their hands and black wax under their nails for these last two decades within bands Enter Obscurity and Nuclear Genocide; If you’ve never heard of ’em that’ll not be a huge surprise but guitarist/vocalist Kato Marchant is a face you’ll recognize if you’ve seen Deathhammer or Condor live these last several years or if you went nuts over that awesome Black Viper record we got back in 2018. All of these projects are (or, were) kicking out evil speed metal and/or black/thrash metal on some level and what Evoke were doing with it several years ago on their first demos (‘Rehellshal‘, 2016) shouldn’t be surprising to discover today. Traditional thrash and speed metal riffs delivered with the fury of a post-‘Haunting the Chapel’ world where albums like Kreator‘s ‘Endless Pain’ and Destruction‘s ‘Infernal Overkill’ set new standards for brutality and blasphemic “evil sounding” riffs back in the day without losing sight of their more traditional heavy metal spiritus. Though their general songwriting hasn’t been disturbed in the interim, Evoke‘s sound on ‘Seeds of Death’ is proposed as heavily influenced by South American evil thrashers like Vulcano and Sepultura, this is an important part of the total circle drawn because one could easily miss the smaller touches in the sound design and assume these guys are just pals with bands like Inculter, Deathhammer, Töxik Death, or even far-out folks in Communion (Chile) or Antichrist (Sweden) whom share similar goals. Either point of view works but both eras combined best represent the vicious reality of this bands terrifying riff attack.

There are many references, riffs, and inspired moments to dissect from the whole but overall you’re getting equal parts post-‘Hell Awaits’ extreme thrash severity (‘tribal’ toms (see: ‘Schizophrenia’, ‘Pleasure to Kill’), ’84 witching metal staples (echo-heavy vocals) and phrasing that I’d felt was a good mix of Vulcano‘s debut modernized to the level of say, Inculter‘s ‘Persisting Devolution’ without ever going fully brutal a la Merciless‘ debut. The spirit of mid-80’s Satanic speed metal is alive here and their attack of that sound is the major draw overall, it’ll either be a strong render of effective nostalgia or a potent hit of rabid thrash that manages to approach a timeless artform with some considerable effort applied to authentic core constructs. Before I dig into some of the details of ‘Seeds of Death’ the point should be clear: This record is explicitly for folks who love the kind of stuff I’ve mentioned thus far, it is yet a black/speed metal album at its core with the dark streaks of early Teutonic and Brazilian thrash brutality well-woven into the full listen.

Energy is up, riffs are at max capacity, and they’ve set the vocal effects at eleven as “Deadly Revenge” pushes right into the thick of it beyond the piece’s roughly 45 second fanfare, a pure speed metal song with a hall-shaking vocal haunting the spacious room they’re storming about. Very simple opener with plenty of hyper-speed cuts along the way and we aren’t truly in the jungle until the title track fires up, feeling as if it were ripped straight from ‘Schizophrenia’ by way of early 80’s Bay Area house partiers. The sound of the toms is not full on ’86 cheapness in its reference but a more sensible version that isn’t so jarring. I loved how Inculter used this on their most recent album though that was a more aggressive record in general. Evoke aren’t writing major hooks here and, again, they are more of a Satanic speed metal group but I cannot deny the power of Marchant‘s guitar work set next to the very over-the-top vocal performances. As much as this resembles a specific lineage of the world-spanning history of evil thrash metal in concept, Evoke do develop their own sonic personae and appreciable quirk as this relatively ‘normal’ modern blackened speed/thrash metal sound works itself up into a fury. By the time you’ve flipped the LP and gotten slapped by the riff-rage of “Wrathcurse” these guys have either convinced you of their intricacies or represented a high standard at the very least.

If you’re not prone to the ultra-focused tunnel vision that this sort of traditional thrash/speed metal provides, I doubt you’ll share my enthusiasm as I could put this ~34 minute record on repeat for 4-5 hours and not find any serious issue with its echoing reap. It flows, it keeps the attack going, and the production has enough nuance and coldly textural guitar riffing that the full listen feels “olden” but never flat or dry compared to the thirty year old classics that’ve inspired its innards. Patrick Engel and his Temple Of Disharmony studio continue to be the righteous epicenter for truly classic sounding works and I would at least put this on par with the insane render of Black Viper‘s album, which seems to share some spiritual DNA via osmosis. “Satanic Rebirth” is the outlier, the path forward, the grandiose album-seller in my ears and a bit of an unexpected pop of refinement for an otherwise Satanic street thrasher record. The song begins with plague-era worthy cello swells, tri-toning unto Belial and giving pause to the otherwise relentless spirit of the band up until that point. Cold winds blow and thunder claps as the composition intensifies and the song proper starts, echoing the main progression the cellos introduced. This is such a big ’86 metal moment that it actually feels more ‘Ride the Lightning’ than ‘Pleasure to Kill’ to start, they do eventually get back to the Satanic grime of their gig but this song finds the band reaching deepest into the wells of potential and I’d found it to be a major highlight that’d kept each spin leaning toward another repeat.

Evoke deliver exactly what their demo had suggested back in 2016, pure Satanic speed metal livened up to the standards of today’s black/thrashing zeitgeist. It isn’t an original conception shooting for the ‘next thing’ nor is it plain worship and I believe that middle ground is going to be half nostalgia and half sub-genre exemplar thrill for most evil thrash metal fans. Extreme vocals, supreme riff command, and a callous yet moderately intricate sense of composition makes for a thrilling high-speed chase of a record that keeps it concise while managing to be an effective headbanger throughout. A high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation.

Rating: 8 out of 10.
TITLE:Seeds of Death
LABEL(S):Pulverised Records
RELEASE DATE:September 15th, 2020
BUY & LISTEN:Bandcamp [All Formats]
GENRE(S):Black/Thrash Metal,
Blackened Speed Metal

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