Album Review: Virus – Evilution Apocalypse

During a global pandemic the media is talking about killer viruses daily. However there’s another killer virus doing the rounds that you might not be so scared of coming into contact with. Old-skool thrash underdogs Virus are back! Though releasing two EPs (Raped By Mutants and A New Strain of an Old Disease) since main man Coke Finlay revived the band in 2008 and relocated to Dundee, the band has had a tough time with numerous lineup changes. As of last year, things are looking up for Virus. With a new lineup solidified in Rob Edwards on guitar, Stewart Grassie on bass and Liam Hastie on drums, and signing with reborn legendary thrash label Combat, the time has come for their first LP since Lunacy in 1989. Produced by another sonic architect of old-skool thrash, Randy Burns, the aptly titled Evilution Apocalypse (with cool cover art by Andy Pilkington) is certain to bring the plague to your eardrums!

The title track opens the album with some creepy sci-fi sound effects and haunting arpeggios, building with some epic-sounding harmonised solos. The bursting thrash that follows is steeped in old-skool spirit, with double-stop chords and bluesy licks reminiscent of the sound of thrash metal’s early days. Follow-up “The Hand That Feeds You” continues the pace with more straightword riffing- – the chorus riff sticks out with it’s expanded power chords giving an almost melodic flavour to the driving feel. There’s no shortage of brutality on Evilution Apocalypse. In amongst the classic vibes, there’s a more deathrash approach in next number “Basement Conversion Therapy”. The pace goes from blistering to a killer stomp, emphasised with the choppy stop-start moments. Three songs in and the the headbanging has been constant and the riffs are proving to be really catchy.

“Goat (Father, Scum and Unholy)” is a bit more of a journey, going through a few moods. The opening organ is a little cheesy (in a good way!) before some technical riffing brings the thrash. Following number “Multiple Wargasms” showcases more of the darker sounding harmonised ideas and tempo changes. It’s been a while since there was a good party thrash song and Virus bring it with “Thrashville”. With plenty of gang shouts and infectious riffs throughout the album, a fun party song with all that and more makes for an awesome addition to Evilution Apocalypse. The fun continues in follow-up “Defective Detective (The Ballad of Inspector Gadget)”. The ode to the 80s cartoon hero has some standout moments inspired by the iconic theme tune, before the band launch into a full rendition of it. It’s hard not to smile when the band hit the high “hoo-hoo”’s.

The closing stretch of the album begins with the swinging opening section of “MBG”, before more no-nonsense thrashing. Evilution Apocalypse’s final duo are re-recordings of Virus classics from 1987’s Force Recon, namely the title track and “Release the Dead”. The originals sound very much of their time but the modern production on these re-recordings really suits them. They’re tighter, heavier and more aggressive than back in the day, and more re-recordings like these would definitely elevate the heavily under appreciated album.

Virus have released one the best albums of their career with Evilution Apocalypse. Coke and co. have crafted a contagious cacophony that’s got lots of the best things about thrash metal all on one album. Speed, aggression, old-skool vibes, brutality, cheese and fun – who could ask for more? So while living in quarantine, this is one infectious Virus you’ll want to catch. Corona-what?

Evilution Apocalypse is available now via Combat Records

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