ALBUM REVIEW: Pop Evil deliver dark, deviant rock

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First Posted: 5/13/2013

Melodic Michigan metal monsters Pop Evil follow up their 2011 album, “War of Angels,” with their fourth studio release, “Onyx” – a disc that captures the intensity of their dynamic, livewire stage show, right down to the last bead of wicked seed sweat that can only come from such dark swagger. Pop Evil rough-hands Nickelback’s heaviest moments, mixing it with the arena-level connection of Shinedown and the tortured, electro-metallic visions pioneered by artists like Trent Reznor, resulting in their own addictive, sweet-sounding catharsis.

Produced by heavy rock mastermind Johnny K, who’s responsible for some of Disturbed and Sevendust’s best recorded sonic brutality, “Onyx” is indeed a little darker and edgier than your standard modern rock fare. “Onyx” features tracks like “Goodbye My Friend,” an emotionally exhaustive rocker where vocalist Leigh Kakaty begs the question, “How did it end, inside this living hell we’re in?” “Trenches” pairs some of the most sinister Malcolm Young-meets-Killswitch Engage guitar riffs along with light programming amid Kakaty’s rap-like delivery, offering the perfect middle finger for when push comes to shove (“Stand up, wake up, I won’t give up”).

“Divide” is a glimpse of what Linkin Park would sound like without the synths, keys, and loops – simply unrestrained anger and blind defiance. Pop Evil affixes heart to sleeve with softer, but no less gripping tracks like “Silence and Scars” – admitting to past wrongs and a sense of closure with not having all the answers, eventually coming to the realization that “we’re just left helpless.” “Behind Closed Doors” treads similarly unsettling, hair-trigger anxiety territory with Kakaty vocalizing, “I know the sound of your worst fears.”

With a scathing sense of ever-climaxing melodic tension and cutthroat energy, Pop Evil seems bent on soaking every ounce of their musical essence into roughly 45 minutes of audio – a viciously deviant trip from true “rock stars” on the rise.

Pop Evil ‘Onyx’ Rating: W W W W