EVIL SHADE – Vandals (2022)REVIEW

Conceived and chipped away at beneath the still-looming shadow of pandemia this debut EP from Querétaro, Mexico-based quintet Evil Shade represents about a years worth of the band’s compositional efforts honed down to a potent enough ~25 minute roll. Their style is entirely nostalgic, a sword run clean through the skull of ancient heavy metal influenced by the ’83-’85 school of proto-speed out of Germany, the sort of howling thick-accented steel that’d become more common just as the country began to crack into the earliest power metal codex. If you’re always on the hunt for traditional heavy metal’s weirdos, the stuff that aimed for distinct inflection and catchy-yet-true kicks, ‘Vandals‘ will likely be your jam from the get-go.

Evil Shade formed between members/ex-members of death metal band Question and former Victime vocalist Diego Rojas all musicians known for their Santiago de Querétaro area bands. Their intent is stated as a fairly specific pursuit of traditional heavy metal with strong influence from groups important for the heavy metal to speed metal transition in the early 80’s such as Running Wild as well as the proto-power metal formulating nearby via pre-‘Walls of JerichoHelloween. The goalpost for these folks seems to land nearby bands that were at least one step above the usual Maiden clones of the era. Though I don’t think ‘Vandals‘ necessarily develops any sort of melodic voice on that level, they do hit upon some similar spirit as early records from Avenger (pre-Rage) and I suppose Angel Dust even if not delivered with necessarily equal parts speed and songcraft. Mexico has a long history of great or at least underrated heavy/speed metal bands (early Luzbel, R.I.P., Megaton, etc.) but I’d found myself largely pulled towards the simpler rhythms of German heavy metal when honing in on ‘Vandals‘ sound wherever it intends to land. The not-so solid cover of “Black Demon” at the end of the EP makes it most clear that Evil Shade are still working up to snuff in some sense, still formulating their own spin on things.

The first thing that’d struck me upon first listen was Rojas‘ vocals which are just alright for my own taste, not particularly expressive or melodic but still effective in their ranting and yelping directive; The best parts of his harmony void performance land nearby the spectrum of prime Hallow’s Eve to some degree, not necessarily in line with the Priest influenced shriekers of the mid-80’s but telling a story with some sort of spectacle per song. In terms of sound and style hitting upon the precedence found in the past, I’d say look to the first Living Death album, ‘Vengeance of Hell‘ and its faster-paced pieces for the closest comparison to the material on ‘Vandals‘. The vocals don’t hold up well to repeat listening for the most part but they do possess a certain memorable charm, amateur in some sense though this is kind of fitting for the era of heavy/speed metal they are aiming for, especially with consideration for the street-level thrashers of the early 80’s European spheres. What matters is that Rojas can carry a tune, trite as it sounds on my part that is where Evil Shade excel on this EP, putting together simple yet catchy heavy metal songs that build a bit of kicked-out momentum as they develop.

Though I’m not falling out of my chair for this record after well over two dozen spins I am definitely intrigued as to what’ll come next. For a debut EP I’d say Evil Shade are on the right track. Each song has some sort of notable hook, their mid-to-fast paced touches of speed metal provide the right sort of jog to compliment the unique vocal cadence that directs the experience, and no doubt there is plenty of character to continue developing beyond ‘Vandals‘ in the future. A moderately high recommendation.

Moderately high recommendation. (75/100)

Rating: 7.5 out of 10.
LABEL(S):Chaos Records,
Spookies Productions
RELEASE DATE:February 25th, 2022

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