The Picturedrome is an odd venue, odd in a really, really good way. This converted cinema hidden away in the picturesque town of Holmfirth in the Yorkshire dales continually manages to get some brilliant bands on. A few weeks ago I made the short journey from Sheffield to see the resurgent Michael Schenker play there, and there was no way I was going to miss the opportunity to see local boys Evile play their first home-town (ish) show for 3 and a half years.
My first band of the evening (in fine CackBlabbath tradition I missed the openers) were Grieve. Now this is a band that I had been hearing good things about, but I must confess that hitherto I knew nothing much about them, the limit of my knowledge being a quick shufty on the internet before the gig.
Well, It took them no time at all to convince me that they are definitely worthy of further investigation. Tight, fast and heavy they know exactly what they are about and deliver it in an impressive no-fucking-about manner. Check them out if old school Testament style thrash with a classic metal melodic twist sounds like your thing, cos these guys deliver it with an awesome ferocity.
Right, from one band with a show stealing bassist to another……
The next band are yet another 80s rock scene stalwart that are on the comeback trail. The history of Toranaga is a fairly tortuous one, with original members joining, leaving and even emigrating. The band’s current incarnation was put together by original Bassist Andy Burton in 2010. He is joined by founder members Steve Todd on Drums nd vocalist Mark Duffy. This original trio now play under the moniker “The Bastard Son of Toranaga” with new-boy guitarists Shane Haigh and John Rodgers on axe duties.
TBSOT’s set included a mix of old and new, with tracks from their late 80s heyday mixed in with a helping of new material. It’s always nice to see a reborn band who are still capable of writing material that stands up against their original stuff, but Toranaga (ok, ok, Bastard Son thereof) have pulled that off and then some. Tonight the new stuff like Rise From The Flames more than held it’s own against classics like Sword Of Damocles and, of course, Hammer To The Skull.
So, as good a couple of warm up acts as you could hope for, but now it was time for the main event.
Evile are playing a number of dates around the UK at the moment, including three “album launch” shows sponsored by the leading names in the UK metal press. And Kerrang, who sponsored this home-town Holmfirth gig. When this show was announced I wasn’t sure what sort of attendance to expect, with Frontman Matt Drake saying he was worried there would be 4 people watching them Holmfirth may well be a bugger of a place to get to, but by the time the band took to the stage the place was packed.
This was a proper homecoming gig for a band who have toured the world in the 3 and a half years since they last graced this part of the country. Over the course of the next hour they proceeded to show everyone present exactly why they have developed such an impressive live reputation. When a band is enjoying themselves on stage it shows, and judging by the grins they were all wearing Evile were having a great time.
During the intro to Cult, Matt did mention the fact that this was a different band to the one who had played last time, a reference to their late bassist Mike Alexander who died just under 2 years ago at the age of 32. It was a poignant moment but not one that they dwelt on, instead getting on with the business of doing their level best to blow the roof off the historic Picturedrome.
Tonight’s set saw a large chunk of the band’s new album, 5 Serpent’s Teeth, given an airing and hearing these tracks live just confirmed what we already knew, that Evile have stepped up to a whole other level with this release. Matt’s rapport with the audience in these intimate surroundings makes everything a bit more special but there is no getting away from the fact that Evile have unleashed a bona-fide classic.
More than just a gig, Evile put on a show. Ol Drake hunched over his custom V, a proper thrash guitar hero, Bassist Joel Graham foot-on-the-monitor getting up close with the audience and Matt alternating Jeckyl and Hyde like, his chatty between song persona contrasting with his intense, focused side when he sings.
After a neck punishing (and all too short, stupid curfew) set which included some of the highlights of 5ST including the aforementioned Cult, Descent Into Madness and Long Live The New Flesh the band signed off with my favourite pre-5ST track Armoured Assault. If ever there was a case of being left wanting more this was it.
Evile had put on one hell of a show and well and truly staked their place in the Thrash Metal elite.
Although it never entirely went away, Thrash Metal is enjoying a massive resurgence at the moment, with bands like Gama Bomb and Mutant flying the flag for the new breed. Well given the undoubted brilliance of 5 Serpents Teeth and the awesome live performance here tonight I think Evile have gone one step further. They could just be the best UK thrash band, like, ever.