Unleashing the thrash, Evile has vocally reinvented themselves and knocked it out of the park. While musically they are sticking to their thrash roots, guitarist and backing vocalist, Ol Drake has taken over the frontman position while also continuing his magic on the guitar and the outcome is outstanding, horror-fueled nonstop metal. I felt like I had to take a break and a nap in between songs, it is so explosive.
These British musicians have been making their way to the ears and hearts of countless metal lovers since 2004. They have been through some growing pains with changing out some people along the way, but the music continues to maintain its allure and aggressiveness through it all. Hell Unleashed is their fifth studio album which was released on April 30, 2021. Ol Drake is leading the pack on vocals now while Ben Carter (drums), Joel Graham (bass), and Adam Smith (rhythm guitar) kill the musical composition at a neck-breaking speed all throughout. Take a deep breath, this is a heavy ride.
Ol Drake checked in to speak with Metal Nation about the album and life.
Hell Unleashed has been in the making for quite a while now, is it a huge relief to finally release it?
“It is a huge relief because when I had left the band initially, they hadn’t really done any new music, and when I rejoined in 2018, I just hit the ground running and started new material and the whole complication with my brother leaving and everything made it last even longer. It should have been out a year and a half ago really but shit happens.”
Especially this past year.
Has it been bizarre coming back after five years and not having your brother be a part of Evile anymore?
“It is strange but when I did rejoin, Matt was still in the band for a while and it was kind of like I never left in a way. It was the same people, it was the same vibe and atmosphere. Then Covid happened and it was just a mess of everything going wrong really but for a long time we were waiting for Matt to do some vocals and lyrics for the album and it just never happened. It was a case of we kind of knew it was coming because he just didn’t have the time to do it anymore and when he did leave, it wasn’t fully a surprise. Obviously it is sad, but it at least made us say, alright, we know where we stand now. We can move on from here. Yes it is bad but yes we can move forward now.”
Right. Now we know what is going on and can figure out what to do next. So this was your first time doing vocals. Was that intimidating to take on and how difficult is it for you to play guitar and now sing?
“It was intimidating at first because I have only ever done backing vocals and if I sing for too long, I used to taste blood in my throat. I had no idea what I was doing, I was just screaming from my throat and that was it. So when it did fall to me to do it, I really took it seriously because I had to learn how to do it without damaging my voice because when I recorded the demos for the album I again tasted blood and it really hurt for the next day or two. I had a great sounding croaky low voice that my misses enjoyed *laughs* more than I did. I am learning a lot now, I am working with Melissa Cross she is really helping me out, and the producer Chris Clancy (Mutiny Within, Wearing Scars) that we worked with really saved the album because the first week of recording, it just sounded like crap. We listened back and thought, we can’t release this, it is horrible. So we worked really hard and we found my voice, he really helped me. In terms of playing and singing at the same time, I surprised myself how good I was because I think playing live for so long and doing backing vocals made it kind of come naturally. There is a few songs where I still don’t understand how Matt did what he did *laughs*, very hard.”
It is like two parts of the brain that are trying to operate at the same time.
“Exactly yeah. The riffs do one thing and the vocals are doing a completely parallel rhythm and it just messes with my head *laughs*”.
Well clearly you are able to pull it off really well. That is really interesting that you had taken all that time into your voice. That is something I didn’t know. It is great you were able to find people to help you learn to not only not damage your vocals of course, but if you are going to be the front guy, they kind of need your voice *laughs*.
“That was my main worry, doing one gig of the tour then saying, ‘Guys, I can’t do it anymore’, *laughs*.”
That was a good short run, now we need to find another vocalist *laughs*.
Well, I love the album. I have been able to listen to it a few times already, have it on pre-order, ready to spin it. Your vocals are obviously very different from Matts’ but they fit the music so well. Hell Unleashed is THRASHY to the core. Nonstop, from beginning to the end. You guys will be exhausted when you go on tour with this. *laughs*
“That was kind of the goal. We didn’t want to mess around, it was just straight to the point thrash. We might not do too many songs off the new album *laughs*”.
*Laughs* I don’t blame you. There is a clear theme with Evile, which is more or less horror based.
“Yeah, it is a bit more horror heavy on this album. We have always been horror oriented, we have always like horror films or dark subjects, but this one we wanted to get back to, I hate saying back to our roots because that doesn’t really mean anything to us but our first album was very, war, murder, death, and we just decided to get back to that. A bit less progressive and a bit more, death *laughs*”.
Which is so funny because as you know with being part of the metal scene, most metalheads and metal musicians are usually happy and optimistic people. Do you feel this is a way to get out that alter ego we all have, or is it just something that you are more fascinated with, so that is where the direction naturally went?
“I think it is a bit of both. We watch a lot of crime documentaries and horror films, it is all dark subjects and it is a kind of fascination with it as well but the style of music I guess would be a way of getting aggression out. The song subjects help get the aggression out better than singing about say an ex girlfriend. It is just a bit angrier and suits us better than any other subject matter would really.”
In a way it is a really fun subject matter, but it is also interesting because we are all horrified with things that some people are capable of, so being able to have this venue as an outlet is really cool.
“I always look at it like there are horror films, so why can’t there be horror music? It is like romantic comedies versus horror films, and that is what metal is to me *laughs*”.
What are some of your favorite horror movies or books?
“One of the songs on the album is called ‘The Thing 1982’, which is my all-time favorite film, my number one always and forever. The Alien films, the second Alien film for me. Terminator 2, that kind of era of films is very up my street I think.”
I have actually never seen The Thing, so obviously I need to get on that.
“You really do. You need to. It is a story because when it was released, it was a flop, it did not do well, and it just gained momentum through the years and became a cult classic. It is all practical effects, no CGI except for some stop motion near the end, but it is just so good. You have to see it.”
It is ridiculous I haven’t seen it yet, I grew up on horror movies, I know better.
How fun is zombie apocalypse to play?
“The main reason we did it, is because of how fun that riff is. I have loved it most of my metal life. I always play it when we are sound checking or I pick up the guitar and that riff is always in my vocabulary and it was literally just an excuse for us to play it. It is just so fun and I can’t wait to do it live.”
It is a really fun rendition of it. I like the whole album, but I especially enjoy that one. So far you have gotten a really good response with the album, I am sure that has to be a great feeling after all the hard work.
“It has been a surprise because I honestly thought it would be 50/50 down the middle because there is the Matt camp that will say, ‘I’m not even listening to this because it is not Matt’, and the other 50 percent that says, “Actually, this is pretty good”, but it has been, I would say, 99 percent positive and supportive. It’s blown me away because it was more than I expected it to be and honestly it is just brilliant to have support after being away for so long, plus a lineup change. So we are very thankful.”
With vocals that is definitely something that can sway people before, like you said, they even give it a chance. I am glad you have gotten that response, that must feel so good.
“Yeah I mean my main concern, and the reason I became the singer, is because I know what it is like when a singer leaves a metal band because everyone is so against it that I thought the best way to go about it would be to have a familiar face with the new singer because a brand new face, forget about it.”
I think that is smart. Especially since you have vocals that fit the music and are well done.
“I honestly think we would have gotten less plays if it was a new face *laughs*.”
Brian Posehn is featured on “Gore”, how did this come about?
“I have actually known him for a while because someone sent me a screenshot of him wearing an Evile shirt on the Sarah Silverman Show which blew me away because I know Brian from The Big Bang Theory and he has been in lots of stuff like that but I emailed him just to say, I had no idea you were into Evile and he was like, ‘Oh yeah man you guys are great”, so back in 2011 he did backing vocals on a song called ‘Cult. It wasn’t a news item like ‘Brian Posehn featuring blah blah blah’, but this time around we just emailed while we were in the studio saying, ‘Do you fancy doing it again?’ and this time he is featured more with ‘Gore (featuring Brian Posehn)’. People are confused with it saying, ‘I can’t hear him in the song, where is he?’ He is not the headline, we didn’t do it to get news *laughs* he is doing the backing vocals, that’s it *laughs*.”
*laughs* I guess because of his voice they might expect him to sound different.
“*laughs* Every couple of days I get a message saying, ‘Where is Brian Posehn in this song?’ *laughs* Jesus Christ, I regret even doing it now. *laughs*”
Having guest vocals is USUALLY fun, I guess it can be a double-edged sword *laughs*, but is there someone you would really like to work with?
“I would love to work with Dave Mustaine. We toured with them in 2008 in Europe and he is such a busy guy and in such high demand that while we were on the tour I hardly go to speak to him but the few times I got to speak to him, we really hit it off but he got pulled away or people hounded him again and I just thought, ahh I am never going to get the chance to properly speak to him so I hope one day that can lead to doing something together, that would be great. Obviously, the obvious answer would be Metallica but I don’t think that would ever happen in any kind of capacity at all. They are very in house with everything.”
So two of the big four!
“Yeah, one of the four have quit now, so I can’t say them.”
*Talked about Anthrax for a bit and him having kids*
“How do you find balance with a family and music?”
“I don’t! *laughs*”
*laughs* Fair enough. Have you been able to have any extra downtime with family during this whole Covid thing?
“There has been obviously a lot more time spent at home because a lot of last year I was on a furlough, I was just at home with everyone. So I had a lot of time to do that but the catch was, nothing was open and we couldn’t go anywhere or see people so we were just stuck at home all the time, but it was great to be home, but it also let me get on Twitch because I was watching Matt Heafy from Trivium and I thought, well I have nothing to do, I’ll just try Twitch. It turned out really good.”
Twitch is great. Are you still doing it?
“Yeah, I do it three times a week if I am physically able to do it *laughs* I play covers live or any song requests. I got a strange ability to pick up any music once I have listened to it, so I can play any song from any genre. For some reason ‘Careless Whisper’ by George Michael always shows up *laughs*. It is great, we just chat do a Q&A and just hang out. It is really cool.”
It is a really cool platform, plus it is extra income.
“I will never hide the fact that it is the main reason I do it, is to pay bills and help buy the kids stuff, but I am having great fun doing it as well so it is a win win.”
It is a great platform for musicians right now to make extra income and chat with the fans. What made you decide to go with Napalm Records this time around?
“We were with Earache before and we had a four album deal. We did the four albums and the contract was up. It wasn’t anything against Earache, we had a good time with them. We just don’t want to do the same thing all the time so we thought let’s try someone else. We were talking to quite a few labels and when Matt left, the majority of those labels said, ‘Nope, not interested’, and Napalm was the only label that stuck around and said, ‘You know what, the material is great, let’s go for it.’ I have got a lot of respect for them for sticking with us and believing in the new lineup.”
Those other labels are going to be eating their words.
“Oh yes, I can’t wait *laughs*.”
Napalm is great.
“They are really on it. There is planned schedules and emails flying around, but none of it is stressful or bad, it is all great.”
With having children in the midst of where our world is right now, what advice do you have for parents during this time?
“Wow. I think just spend as much time as you can with them and listen to them. I am guilty of sometimes my daughter will say, ‘I want you to play with me’, and sometimes I will say, ‘I will soon, I doing this or doing that’. Just pay more attention and do spend more time with them because I think the early years are very important and I am learning myself to spend more time and use my attention more on them instead of being too busy with other things. They don’t care if the house is messy, they just want to play *laughs*”.
If you are even remotely into thrash metal, this album should not be missed. It is magnificently well done and straight thrash all nine songs through. Crack a beer, get your air guitar tuned, move the furniture out of the way, and enjoy.