There is no point beating around the bush, (hed)p.e. uncaged arguably their most eclectic and flavoursome proposition to date with previous album Evolution two years ago and have now eclipsed it with their new trespass of the passions that is Forever!. That last album was in many ways a leap into a creative maturity not yet seen in the band, a growth fully come to its peak with this latest collection of thirteen again adventurous and diverse songs which also reap the qualities which made instinctive fans of people in through their early albums. Quite simply Forever! is the band at its most anthemic and biting best while still pushing their boundaries at the same time.
As soon as opener Live seizes ears there is no escaping that familiar sound and air unique to (hed)p.e., or the instinctive awakening of an eager appetite which as big fans of the band here also means greater demands. Its initial smouldering tempting with skittish beats and the twang of off kilter keys skilfully builds anticipation before it all erupts with chunky riffs and whining grooves as the distinctive tones of Jahred Gomes leap on ears and imagination. It is a rousing slab of (hed)p.e. with imposing rhythms from drummer Jeremiah ‘Trauma’ Stratton courted by the groan of Kurtis’ bass as guitarist Gregzilla casts a sonic web.
The outstanding start continues with Pay Me which in turn is soon chewing the senses with rapacious riffs and menacing beats as scything grooves squeal and group snarls roar. Even more so than its predecessor, the song recalls the antagonistic might and essences to be found in the likes of the band’s self-titled debut and successor Broke but fusing it to striking samples and a fresh swath of sound to create something hungrily new, a quality as rampant within next up Closer. A gorgeous slice of rap metal with a striking weave of melodic suggestiveness to its fierce growl, there is more than a touch of Skindred to it and at times vocally it is easy to wonder if that band’s Benji Webbe is guesting such the great blend of vocal style which only adds to the drama and appeal of another outstanding trespass on ears.
Three songs in and the demands for something new again from the band after Evolution is satisfied and fed further as first Hurt swaggers in with its southern tinged grooving and rapacious hooks within what is prime magnetically (hed)p.e. rock ‘n’ roll. Its stirring exploits soon whip up involvement and spirit with anthemic mastery before It’s You growls and serenades with matching prowess as guitars and bass collude in a cantankerous and thrilling trespass as thumping beats descend and vocals attack and entice.
The punk driven Waste unloads its ire and raw energy upon the senses next, the track an exhilarating intrusion bringing more variety to the album and pleasure to the heart while the following JahKnow whips up equal satisfaction with its metal and reggae seeded recipe of confrontation and anthemic arousal. The latter essence also flavours next up One of a Kind, dub twisted vocals and gentle, slightly melancholic keys to the fore before Jahred’s vocals spill emotion and subsequently the band uncages a volatile surge of raw sound and aggression. With ragga elements adding to its contrasting calm and savage roars, the song soon has the imagination enthralled as indeed does the prophetic, cosmic seducing of short instrumental The Higher Crown.
Shadowridge takes control next with its own individual reggae spiced persuasion, a tempting elevated by soothing harmonies and a catchiness which oozes from every note. Every listen unveils another twist and layer to the song, keys growing in poise and suggestion every time to help a slow burner compared to other tracks within Forever! being one of its most vital moments.
As with Evolution, (hed)p.e. collect their mellower reggae toned tracks to the rear of the album and whilst there it felt they warranted being interspersed throughout the release, in Forever! it just works with Together offering next a captivating stroll sharing warm caresses of brass throughout before making way for the livelier but no less warmly seductive and highly infectious Always.
Bonus track Ganja completes Forever!, the song as virulent as anything on the album with its lo-fi nostalgia aired bewitching bringing the superb release to a fine close. (hed)p.e. continue to impress, excite, and indeed surprise with their records, but with Forever! they have hit their finest moment in a long time, maybe ever.
Forever! is out now through Pavement Entertainment across most online stores with a LTD Edition double album containing 15 track bonus disc Family Fresh featuring appearances by Twiztid, Blaze, The Roc, and Playboy The Beast also available for a limited time.
October/November sees (hed)p.e. as special guests on Alien Ant Farm’s UK-IRE Tour with Sumo Cyco and Kaleido.
18th – WAKEFIELD – Warehouse 23
19th – EDINBURGH – La Belle Angele
20th – ABERDEEN – Garage
21st – BELFAST – Voodoo Lounge
22nd – DUBLIN
24th – PRESTON – 53 Degrees
25th – BRISTOL – Marble Factory
26th – CHESTER – Live Rooms
27th – LEAMINGTON SPA – Assembly
28th – SOUTHAMPTON – Engine Rooms
30th – WOLVERHAMPTON – Slade Rooms
31st – LONDON – O2 Academy Islington
2nd – BARNSTAPLE – Factory
3rd – READING – Sun 89
4th – SOUTHEND – Chinnerys
5th – HULL – The Welly
6th – OXFORD – O2 Academy
Pete RingMaster 01/09/2016
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