Apparently, when Michigan native Leigh Kakaty formed POP EVIL in 2001, he chose the name for a reason: He loved hard rock, played with a good melody but he also loved propulsive rhythms. For Kakaty, these were natural elements found in the songs he grew up with: the groovy soul of Motown, the grand funk of the railroad, the proto punk of MC5 and the rap of Eminem – these sounds were the musical backdrop of his upbringing.
Kakaty and his POP EVIL bandmates – rhythm guitarist Dave Grahs, lead guitarist Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRito and now [British] drummer Hayley Cramer – are at their most inspiring with their new self-titled album, out 16th February via Entertainment One. Each song on the disc offers a different twist in the context behind the band-name: Pop Evil is all killer, no filler.
“Waking Lions” the first single taken from the album, and released last October, takes us directly into the heavy-fire onslaught of imagery and protest that was the background to Kakaty’s song-writing. Yes, that’s right, protest. This has a political burden, and it is highly-charged… it’s about overcoming obstacles and, thus, it causes a right hoo-ha. The number roars out like the most angry cat in the pride. It’s powerful, edifying and huge.
If you slung Rage Against The Machine into a bottle and shook ’em up with a dash of Papa Roach, then you’d probably come up with something like track two: “Colors Bleed.” It’s frustrated and it’s fully primed [written after the events of Charlottesville] and it has a rousing, politically inspired anthem. This number has that heavy-heavy feel, and a wonderful harmonic centre. It sings into your veins like nothing else you’ve ever experienced.
“Ex Machina” [is that God inside, we ask] is deliberate, bold and full of complicated anger. And the “Art of War” is a bouncy, funky head-attack, with fast voices and tightly crushed rhythms.
“Birds of Prey” has icy spikes set against generous chads of chord plus a flexible, groovy beat. Like all the songs on this top album, it shines as it motivates. All these are hymns, all these are supposed to influence the listener. And everyone is supposed to join in…
Some songs, however, are lighter than your average-sized punk-metal raids. And for that reason, this album might be overlooked by the die-hard metal-heads. But let’s not forget that, at heart, Pop Evil is a post grunge outfit. They were more Foo Fighters than they ever were Slayer or Metallica.
This sits somewhere between rap metal, funk metal and alternative-rock in the style of Incubus. It will be massive because it will get radio-play — it’s accessible, highly polished and remarkably mighty without being fearsome or ferocious.