It takes a lot of time (and money, if you’re a physical product guy like me) to sift through the avalanche of new releases each month searching for quality metal. Every now and then, though, you hit the jackpot, stumbling across an obscure band from some farflung corner of the heavy metal universe that makes it all worthwhile. Evil Killer are just such a band. The quartet from Pamplona, Spain formed in 2012, and have just released their debut album, ‘Lethal Assault.’ Evil Killer fit neatly within the New Wave of Traditional Heavy Metal, as evidenced by the album’s band photo featuring white high-top sneakers, skinny jeans, a patch jacket, a leather jacket, and band t-shirts.
Before you dismiss them as just another johnny-come-lately old-school metal band, you should know that Evil Killer offer a slightly different variation on the well-worn trad/true metal recipe than many of their peers. Sure, the Maidenisms are there in spades, particularly the twin-guitar harmonies and the delightful guitar/bass interplay. But Evil Killer owe more to classic speed metal (Exciter / Agent Steel / ‘Wall of Jericho’ era Helloween / Riot ‘Thundersteel’) than to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal. Many of the tunes are sufficiently fast and intense to be classified as thrash, but they are drenched in ever-present, dizzying melodies. It’s a style that I dearly love, but it’s also one that precious few new bands pull off effectively (Belgium’s Evil Invaders would be an example of one that does). So to hear a newcomer act successfully marry the frenetic energy of thrash with the glorious guitar melodies and catchiness of the NWoBHM movement is cause for celebration.
Celebrating is exactly what I feel like doing while listening to ‘Lethal Assault.’ These young Spaniards get it. They have a seemingly unerring instinct for arranging their tunes to balance the hammering tempos and gang-shouted choruses with almost delicate six-string work. “Midnight Assassin” is a case in point. In the span of less than four minutes, Evil Killer carry us from razor-sharp riffing in the verses to a near blastbeat melodic passage to a positively heavenly lead break in which the Jackson guitars of Mikel and Ivan Vera weave masterful chunks of melody, then back to the high-speed verses, gang-shouts and all. It’s an addictive ride, and one that I find myself wanting to take again and again. Another song worthy of mention is the 5.5-minute instrumental track, “1512,” which is one of the best and all-around most entertaining metal instrumentals I’ve heard this side of Iced Earth’s “1776.” Honestly, the only demerits that ‘Lethal Assault’ might warrant are that the songwriting tapers off ever so slightly in the second half (even though closer “Made in Fire” rules), and Mikel’s high-pitched voice, sometimes-uncontrolled delivery and thick accent might be a turnoff to some. For me, though, Evil Killer are a fantastic find, a band poised to become a force within the crowded old-school metal marketplace. Lend them an ear, won’t you?
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~