I really should be holding a grudge against Pop Evil. As a Penn State alum, I have come to despise all things Michigan. After all, it was this quintet from Grand Rapids that wrote “In the Big House,” referring to the name of the Michigan Wolverines Football stadium and quite notably the largest in the United States. The song has been played in the Big House as a pump-up song for the team and fans during home football games. Instead, I’ll put our differences aside and give an unbiased opinion of their new album, Onyx, which dropped last month.
Even though Pop Evil may be a new name to a few, they certainly aren’t novices in the rock world. They formed back in 2001 from pieces of other Michigan based bands and were originally known as TenFive. Since the 2008 release of their debut studio album, Lipstick on the Mirror, there have been a few member changes, as well as changes in their musical style; those style changes can be found in their new album. They decided to put down their acoustic guitars and opt for a more aggressive sound. Pop Evil has often been compared to Sevendust, and if you listen to Onyx you’ll see that it’s pretty apparent why the comparison is made.
The album kicks off with “Goodbye My Friend.” The song begins with an awesome in-your-face style bass riff, into vocalist Leigh Kakaty doing his best Lajon Witherspoon impression. This was one of my favorite songs from the album. Next up is “Deal with the Devil,” which not only sounds like the name of a Rob Zombie tune but could also be easily mistaken for a song right out of Zombie’s catalog of work. “Trenches” was the first single release, and for good reason. It encompasses everything that makes up a killer rock radio hit, from an aggressive guitar riff to a catchy chorus. And that is why it is one of the top requests on 107 The Bone. “Torn to Pieces” and “Silence & Scars” are the album’s two ballads. Even though they resemble the likes of one of their previous ballads, “Monster You Made,” they still have enough balls to fit right in on this record. “Divide” was one of the more inspirational songs, with the chorus screaming “Sometimes in life we gotta fight / looking for the truth in wrong / and the black in white / always know we’re the ones you can stand beside / we’re the ones you can’t divide.” That same inspiring sentiment continues in the next track, “Beautiful,” where you can almost picture Kakaty telling someone close to him that they are beautiful no matter what others may think. The album caps off with three heavy, raw, rock songs and masterfully crafted guitar slide guitar work on “Welcome to Reality,” by their dual axe handlers; Dave Grahs and Nick Fueling. Let’s get to my Crank It and Skip It picks from these Wolverine-loving rock stars:
Crank It Divide Welcome to Reality Behind Closed Doors Flawed
Skip It Deal With The Devil Sick Sense
Onyx was a fun listen. From hard hitting guitar riffs and fist pounding choruses, to heartfelt, inspirational ballads, this album will leave you satisfied, yet eagerly awaiting their next release. So for now, I will accept Pop Evil into my life, however, come September, this will have to change. As a true Penn State fan I can’t possibly like anyone that wrote a song about our bitter rival’s beloved football stadium. And, hey, Pop Evil, remember this: WE ARE…..!