Though its veins are not exactly bursting with originality, Onyx the new album from US rockers Pop Evil is without doubt a rigorously compelling and invigorating slab of fiery melodic rock. Every shrug of its sinews and each melodic flame exhaled soak ears with an open familiarity whilst every muscular blaze of emotion and searing of sonic enterprise leaves thoughts and passions greedily content. It is may be not going to set the year on fire but the band’s third album is definitely bringing it a thoroughly enjoyable stomp of aural temptation.
Still under a keen spotlight after touring across Europe supporting Five Finger Death Punch, the band hits the European market and ears with a mighty slab of potent contagion. Released via Eleven Seven Records, the album has a voracity and tempestuous passion to its body which along with inciting melodies and perfectly barbed hooks, simple enthrals the senses and imagination. Having already established themselves on their side of The Pond with their rich tempting sound and albums War of Angels and even more so Lipstick on the Mirror, as well as a clutch of attention grabbing singles, the Michigan quintet are setting their sights on a wider audience and it is hard not to expect a healthy success through Onyx alone. Having also impressively shared stages with the likes of Three Doors Down, Papa Roach, Puddle Of Mudd, Theory of a Deadman, Buckcherry, Judas Priest, Black Stone Cherry, and Seether since forming, as well as going through the obstacles music throws up including line-up changes, Pop Evil have found a fresh and determined tenacity which shines across their new release as powerfully as the craft and passion soaking it. Produced by Johnny K (Disturbed, 3 Doors Down, Megadeth), Onyx is an encounter which does not herald a torrent of surprises but does ensure satisfaction is fat to bursting.
The album gets off to a flyer with opener Goodbye My Friend, an instant attention grabbing encounter which from its initial guitar and bass coaxing awakens a potent appetite for what is to come. Nick Fuelling and Dave Grahs take little time casting a web of riffs and grooves to snare the imagination whilst bassist Matt DiRito brings a predatory growl to the mix to accentuate the immediate potency of the song. It is an enthralling mix to which vocalist Leigh Kakaty adds his impressive tones as the rhythms of drummer Josh Marunde punctuate and frame the thrilling enticement. The track also offers the comparisons which stand across the whole album, its sounds like a mix of Seether and Sevendust with the metallic rapaciousness of Spineshank, the emotive angst of Three Days Grace, and the anthemic craft of Drowning Pool. To be fair though that still only gives part of the picture as shown by the second song on the album.
Bringing a rich colour of Alice In Chains to its striking canvas of sound and gripping narrative, Deal with the Devil prowls and strolls around the senses like a warrior, the guitars and bass crowding ears with forceful intensity and ravenous intent whilst rhythms punch with weighty persuasion. The latest single is a stirring and climactic incitement, ablaze at times with infection soaked melodies and senses entwining grooves for a thoroughly exciting temptation. One not quite matched but certainly thrillingly backed up by previous single Trenches. Holding a defiant air to its body of sound and lyrical call, there is an air of antagonism to the song which only urges the sonic warfare of the guitars to blaze with brighter flames and virulence as additional keys and electronic bait bring extra charm.
The riotous charge of the album takes a break with power ballad Torn To Pieces, a magnetic song which goes exactly where expectations assume but still leaves a lingering and increasingly potent lure in its wake. Kakaty is a powerful and controlled vocalist throughout the album and shows his depth of expression and emotional quality masterfully here to match the strengths of the sounds caressing and at times scorching his words. It is a glorious emotive encounter which leaves the following Divide looking a little pale in comparison. To be fair the song is a feisty and vivaciously striding suasion but lacks the extra guile of say its predecessor or the punchy invention of other songs on the release. Nevertheless it makes a pleasing play upon the ears as does its successor Beautiful, another song which just misses the potency and success of others, but still leaves a flavoursome offering for a hungry appetite to devour.
Things return to the opening plateau with the outstanding Silence & Scars, a song which seduces and pressurises thoughts and emotions simultaneously with imaginative and emotion driven invention. There is a touch of Bush to the song, its grunge spice and melodic weaves absorbing whilst a cathartic essence to its whole picture offers a magnetic radiance. The track is bewitching as is next up Sick Sense, a furnace of a song which is as raw as it is mesmeric, as caustically charged as it is a resourceful seducing. Again it is like an instant friend, that familiar seeding inescapable bait but with a voracious fuel to the backing vocal roars and a nu-metal menace to the ingenious twists within the song, again that Spineshank reference coming forth, the track is an exhilarating proposition.
Fly Away and Behind Closed Doors keep the album burning brightly and at times ferociously, the first an eagerly striding charge of pop rock urgency across evocative textures whilst the second steps into a more formula yet forcibly appealing canter of melodic fire and vocal enticement. Both songs leave a smoking long term bait working away even after their departure, their heat and passion enough to override a slightly predictable design, before the more aggressive and excellent Welcome To Reality has it moment to ignite the senses. It again confirms that Pop Evil are masters at creating songs which might not break away from existing trodden paths but bind the listener up in feverishly addictive and irresistible anthems.
The album closes with Flawed, a striking dramatic and impressive end to Onyx which simply underlines the quality and exciting presence of band and release. Pop Evil is not inventing the wheel, or arguably even redesigning it, but it is giving it a breath-taking and often scintillating soak of explosive colour.
Onyx is available now through Eleven Seven Music with the standard European version holding 3 additional tracks whilst the deluxe version features an extra 5.
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