Now I’ll start off by being honest here: I am no Satan’s Wrath’s expert. In fact, the main reason for volunteering to do a write-up of ‘Die Evil’ was my curiosity about their debut album, a copy of which I’ve seen at the local record shop consistently over the last few years. Having never taken the leap of faith to buying this earlier platter, I figured it was high time to finally check such an interesting looking band out (and who knows, perhaps even be inspired to liberate that disc from its record shop limbo). For those in the know, Satan’s Wrath has been a source of intently satanic ’80s-inspired black-thrash fun for the last few years since main man Tas Danazoglou departed Electric Wizard. For those who require greater insight into the band and its philosophy, check this out:
With regard to ‘Die Evil’ itself, it is, as the band claims, “the darkest, fastest and most powerful blast of fury” they have so far committed to tape. And just a cursory listen to the opening tracks makes it hard to imagine anything much more destructive. ‘Raised on Sabbaths’ starts us off, initially with high-pitched guitar machinations and drum rolls before the scene descends into highest octane blackened thrash. While there’s certainly evidence of the ’80s bands which Satan’s Wrath worships – Venom, Slayer, Possessed etc – the level of intensity and a couple of other factors categorically distinguish their sound from mere imitation. First, is the utterly manic vocal work which has more of a black metal vibe, and second, is the lack of discernible bass which results in the album coming across in extremely intense fashion. When you throw in haunting melodies and hectic Motörhead-on-steroids solo work to this face-ripping equation, there’s very little to argue with. Ultimately then, it’s probably as valid to draw comparison with the likes of Nifelheim as anything else.
Amidst the accelerations and evil swaggering on the first half of the record there’s the odd nod to the classics (such as the ‘Behind the Crooked Cross’ similarity in the title track’s opening) but there’s little evidence of the heavy metal influences I’ve read about until ‘Coffinlust’. Next to the frantic punishment of the first four tracks, this one definitely reeks more of NWOBHM although the demented lyrics lean more heavily in favour of Venom than anything as polished as, say, Maiden. Elsewhere, ‘A Mindless Servant of Satan’ serves another layer of classic metal during its course – despite vocals which tangibly fight their way through the fires of hell, while closer ‘Castle of Torment’ contains elements of early Slayer within its confines. For the rest, we are treated to a bit more of what we got from the opening salvo. ‘Dead of the Shallow Graves’ begins with moody atmosphere, heightened by wailing guitars prior to exploding; whereas ‘At the Strike of Twelve’ unleashes further, irresistible similarities to Nifelheim, Desaster and the like.
It goes without saying that the intended audience for ‘Die Evil’ is hardened Satan worshipping maniacs who want nothing but fury again and again. Anyone outside this demographic would probably be too scared to touch a Satan’s Wrath album anyway but just in case: it’s probably best to avoid. For me, the merciless opening onslaught has my head banging consistently although once the band slows down to explore other realms, I must admit that I’m not quite as blown away nor enthralled as I have been by the pure extremity. For any faults it may have though, ‘Die Evil’ is still an example of black-thrash well worth checking out – especially for those moments of unadulterated blood boiling mania.