Japanese unit Evil are musically as simple as their name might suggest. Unadorned, proficient black/speed/thrash is their order of the day. Nothing is added or taken away from the original eighties template made for this sort of music.

Echoes of Celtic Frost and Hellhammer abound. Early Slayer also comes into the mix via some high pitched screams from Ryo Kitamura. The music is basic, though you get the sense that that is a stylistic choice rather than due to a lack of ability or the inexperience of youth. Kushi-zashi is an early highlight, as is the surprisingly doomy opening instrumental, Joya.

The feel of eighties metal is so closely reproduced some of the songs sound a bit ‘scientific’. Yatsuzaki-kei features some roving bass playing from Kengo Amemiya but overall comes across as being almost safe and sterile in its desire to accurately represent past times. Compatriots Sigh manage to capture an eighties feel whilst still giving off an air of madness. This is perhaps what Evil lack most of all.

When the band do allow themselves a touch of looseness, benefits accrue immediately. Mandala is an out-and-out old school death metal rager. Its abandonment of form in favour of sheer brutality is highly effective. Itomentor Witchslaughter gives a great performance behind the drums. But at two minutes twenty eight seconds the song is sadly over almost before it has begun. A shame.

Shini-sarase is a fast thrash metal piece, basic yet effective. Kitamura again stars with his vocals. Both he and Masaharu Takahashi provide solid riffs and solos throughout the song.

The album’s second half flags a little. Songs struggle to really ignite the listener due to a saminess in sound and tempo which in turn makes ‘side two’ a bit of a morass. The sinister Mugen-jigoku, with it’s slower paced riffing and chanted chorus, is by far the most interesting of the later tracks.

Despite these criticisms, Rites of Evil is overall an enjoyable record. It is one which fans of the original style of black thrash will find entertaining at the very least.

Rites of Evil is out now on Nuclear War Now! Productions.