Except for perhaps Brazil's Violator, California's Merciless Death is the cream of today's "retro thrash" crop. It's hardly infernal overkill to say that Evil in the Night is a perfect reproduction of '80s thrash. That it's a dead ringer for an old thrash classic is a testament to its accuracy. Think this: Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, Anthrax – none of them sound this authentic today.
All – and I mean all – the thrash trademarks are present. Razor-sharp riffs show no mercy, while whiplash leads make frequent forced entries. Polka beats pummel with ultra-vio-lence, while vocals sneer out lyrics about nuclear assaults, all over gloriously old-school production. The 25-minute run time is short, though it's a blessing in disguise; every song sounds pretty much the same, but it's a damn good one.
Ed Repka, of course, does the fantastic cover art. The liner notes fold out into one of those classic photo collages, complete with the requisite dis to posers. The promo sheet even uses the old Combat Records G.I. Joe font!
The band, too, looks armed and dangerous, with leather and denim jackets, tight jeans, and white hi-tops. Its MySpace photos of similarly-clad heathen feel like a time warp to some strange never, neverland. I frankly don't understand the urge to recreate a bygone time so slavishly (the musical equivalent of, say, Civil War reenactment). Then again, thrash was a lifestyle, and if it once rebelled against the faded glory of the past, perhaps it now resists metal's exodus to a new order.