Against Evil – All Hail the King Review

Band: Against Evil
Album: Hail to the King
Label: Self-Released
Genre: Heavy Metal
Country: India
Release Date: April 6, 2018

Hailing from India, four piece Against Evil have traded in a traditional heavy metal approach for a few years now. Debut EP, Final Assault, was a decent enough slab of a classic metal sound written to be blasted while riding a noble steed headlong into an impending fray. Now, three years later, their debut full-length drops to settle the question of whether these old-school headbangers can improve on their songcraft and make an album that stands side by side with the classics of old in the Hall of Metal Valhalla or if they would stagnate and be left in the bar where all the has-been records that couldn’t hack it commiserate.

The problem for Against Evil is that they are operating in a time where this sort of music is saturated. The movement some have taken to calling the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal has yielded many gems in the past half-decade; Eternal Champion, Satan’s Hallow, Demon Bitch, Ravensire, Sumerlands, and Lunar Shadow are just a few of the bands that have risen to prominence with some take on the traditional formula of classic heavy metal. On top of these newcomers, old-guard stalwarts like Satan, Accept, Saxon, and Judas Priest have released some of their best music in decades. In this environment of riches a band has to be truly exceptional to stand out from the crowd.

Unfortunately, All Hail the King doesn’t do enough to stand out. Most of the riffs here are very stock and fail to get the blood pumping the way a great heavy metal album will. Though much of the riffing feels Judas Priest influenced, it generally lacks the grit or the hookiness of classic Priest. Several songs feature riffage on the thrashier end of the spectrum, but theses songs aren’t any better for it, coming off like latter day Megadeth rejects. There are a couple of standout moments amongst the muck. The opening to the title track, for example, should provide enough testosterone to get anyone through their ultimate battle, and the song manages to stay engaging enough till the end. These moments are in too short a supply to buoy up the weaker parts of the album.

Bland riffs don’t have to be the downfall for a heavy metal band. If there is top notch songwriting and powerful vocals then the package as a whole can still prove adequate. Unfortunately again, the band fails to deliver the goods. The songs feature few surprises and often fall into repeating one less than stellar riff for far too long. Large chunks of the album blend together due to similar riffs. Compounding the problems are the vocals. Vocalist/bassist Siri should probably stick to the four string because his performance behind the microphone drags the album down. His singing ranges from generic to awful; the one positive is that he tries out a variety of styles so we aren’t saddled with one type of awful for the duration. Though there is the very rare vocal hook (I do enjoy the chorus on the aforementioned title track) the warbling seriously detracts from the album’s already meager qualities. If you look for good lead work then you may like the album; most of the soloing is at least adequate, and there is a fun contribution from ex-Nevermore axeman Jeff Loomis on Sentenced to Death. Like much of the album, however, the solos don’t make anything more memorable and there is nothing jaw dropping.

Piling onto the deficiencies is the production job. Some will appreciate the clarity of the instrumentation, but to my ears the guitars sound gutless and the drums are overproduced. The album lacks the grime that makes many of Against Evil’s contemporaries sound good. There is too much sheen and gloss. If this is music to ride into battle then it was composed in the King’s tent, not in the mud on the frontlines, and it’s missing something for that.

None of the problems with All Hail the King are fatal. Overly glossy production works for Accept and Judas Priest. Weak vocals didn’t sink Lunar Shadow’s debut last year. When taken as a gestalt, however, the enterprise becomes doomed. If you don’t have the time to absorb every bit of heavy metal that comes out these days then you are better off checking out the new Judas Priest album; if you desperately need something to complement your charge into enemy lines than the new Visigoth record or the EP from Storrsson will provide the jolt you need. Despite the occasional moment of fist-pumping glory, Against Evil fail to follow up their promising debut EP with a devastating follow through and may have to surrender.

Rating: 4/10

1. Enemy at the Gates
2. The Army of Four
3. All Hail the King
4. Stand Up and Fight!
5. Sentenced to Death
6. Bad Luck
7. We Won’t Stop
8. Gods of Metal
9. Mean Machine

Total Playing Time: 35:51

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