From the first striking and forceful raw incitements of tracks like Firsty, Tired of Sleep, and P.O.S., on their self-titled debut album, (Hed)p.e. has been a lustful follow for us at The RingMaster Review. Certainly their subsequent albums have ebbed and flowed in success but each hitting the personal sweet spot to some degree or other. So new release Evolution had a head start with thoughts but also faced a more demanding appetite after eight highly persuasive previous studio full-lengths. The questions and hopes placed before it were swiftly swept aside by a release which lives up to its title musically as well as in theme. It is a thrilling proposition which maybe does not show its new shift in ideation and sound as loudly in some tracks as in others but provides a tantalising brawl of intent and enterprise which should ignite even the emotions of those not quite as enamoured as ourselves.
Evolution is the quartet’s first release with Pavement Entertainment and sees the Huntington Beach hailing band grab inspiration from their heavier roots; sinews and heavyweight riffs challenging the senses as grippingly as the cast of flavours and imaginative ideation more expected from a (Hed)p.e. incitement. Just stepping into their third decade, the band has almost regrouped their ideas and thoughts with Evolution, starting a new chapter with the cream of the essences which took them to this point in time and entwining them with new adventures. As mentioned the album does not persistently roar with its new intent but there are equally times where new twists inspires the tingles first felt when discovering the eclectic enticement of the band way back in 1997 through their first album three years after founding.
The opening slap of tom toms announcing opener No Turning Back instantly grabs attention, their easy coaxing leading ears into a fiery wall of intensive riffs and forcibly crisp rhythms. It is a potent slap on the senses with the sonic growl expected of the band. Veins of melodic acidity add drama and intrigue to the proposal before the distinctive vocals of Jared Gomes surge into view with the lyrical confrontation and antagonism again firmly assumed of the band. With climactic shadows and imposing intensity, the track is a scintillating start, an infectious rage to set things off. The bass of Mark ‘Mawk’ Young is a throaty predator throughout whilst the melodic flames of guitarist Jackson ‘Jaxon’ Benge sparks the imagination to run with even more urgency into the accusations of Gomez.
The outstanding encounter is swiftly matched by Lost In Babylon, the track a blaze of metallic intent and hardcore passion. Again guitars craft a web of unpredictable and incendiary bait punctuated by the mighty rhythmic swings of drummer Jeremiah ‘Trauma’ Stratton whilst the bass stalks the senses with a belligerent yet addictive voice. Gomez flings notes and intent at thoughts with his accomplished and unique style whilst the chorus is pure (Hed)p.e. infectious persuasion, an anthemic bellow to ignite body and emotions.
A Rage Against The Machine like groove opens up Jump The Fence, its lure evolving into a progressive caress which in turn moves into scenery of jagged riffs and expressive grooves within a firm rhythmic caging. Stood over and incited by the great variation in the vocals of Gomez, the song strides with an agonistic swagger which again easily seduces for an inescapable anthem, a staple lure in a (Hed)p.e. provocation as shown by 2 Many Games in its slower flowing emotive expanse. Stirring imposing riffs strike through ears as a melodic weave of enterprise wraps the sturdy pace of the track, its emotive elegance and sonic narrative a colourful wash to the muscular core. It is not a rampaging offering but a thickly involved and imaginative suggestiveness with just as potent a temptation as the more rousing elements of other tracks.
The heavy rock canvas of No Tomorrow brings further diversity to the album, rigorously snarling vocals stalking predacious riffs and barbarous hooks for a tenaciously appetising provocation. Commandingly catchy with a vicious essence to its gripping breath, the track puts a militant spark into the passions before making way for the flavoursome venture of Let It Rain. From agitated and argumentative textures, the song seamlessly flows through immersive harmonies and scorching melodies, though everything is courted by a formidable intimidation and oppressive intensity. It is a riveting expanse of songwriting and evocative sound which is surpassed by the pugnacious One More Body, the band unleashing its most hostile weight and energy yet. It comes with another dose of infectious virulence too, another enslaving anthem for thoughts and emotions to get their teeth into.
From the more even tempered suasion of Never Alone, a strong and eventful song which just misses the spark of its predecessors yet enlists the full of the listener, the album moves through the unexpected meditative shadow of The Higher Crown to venture into its reggae seeded finale of tracks. The short ambience fuelled instrumental is an intro which sort of works though to be honest the haste to get to the excellent Nowhere To Go means it gets passed over more often than not. The next song is a delicious stroll of hazy melodies and mellow rhythms bound in a richer soaking of the reggae crafted charm the band has never been unafraid to explore. A tool for body and mind to work with, the song casts a spellbinding tempting which is emulated by the sultry tones and radiance of Let It Burn. Keys and guitars flirt with the senses whilst a dub spicery walks hand in hand with the vibrant vocal and staggered riffs, all combining for one of the most contagious and addictive songs likely to be heard this or any year.
The album closes with the smouldering presence of Hold On, the last of the reggae seeded encounters which is here courted by r&b soulfulness. Without lighting the fires of the previous two tracks it is still a fine end to a thrilling encounter, a triumph with only for personal tastes the fact that the closing trio of songs were seemingly segregated from the rest rather than scattered across the heart of the album slightly out of place . It is the only flimsy niggle to be found in Evolution though, a release which may or may not be the greatest (Hed)p.e. to date but is certainly the most eclectic and flavoursome proposition from the band yet.
Evolution is available now on Pavement Entertainment @ http://www.pavementmusic.com/product/hedp-e-evolution-cd/
Check out our interview with Hed)p.e. guitarist Jackson Benge @ https://ringmasterreviewintroduces.wordpress.com/2014/09/18/shifting-fights-and-battle-cries-an-interview-with-jackson-benge-of-hedp-e/
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