EVILYN STRANGE – Evilution

EvilutionI discovered this band back in 2013 when a fellow reviewer wrote a piece on their then brand new – and debut – album Mourning Phoebe and I got interested because said reviewer, Mike Ladano, usually write reviews of old records, so I figured if he decided to do a new record, then it must be something special, probably a request and I wanted to hear for myself what the band with the strange (sic!) name what was all about. So I got in touch with them and they sent me a copy – yes, they sent me the actual CD instead of a download link – to review. It so turned out that Evilyn Strange’s – Phillip Strange – lead vocals, bass, Mikael Johannesson – guitars and Al Strange – drums – had made one hell of a debut album, an album that I converted to mp3, synced into my iPhone the same day I got the CD and it’s still there. The words from the guys on their band was that they had all those songs lying around, some of them had a few years on them and they needed to release them and at least make one album. Turns out that Evilyn Strange had – if I’m not totally lost out in space here – had been active before, many years ago but never made any real recordings. But if there was a future for the band, they didn’t know back then, that was to be seen, I guess. If there have been any gigs or tours since then, I’m not sure of, but I follow them on Facebook and I haven’t heard squat about them playing live, so my guess is no. That’s why it was some really awesome news when I got the e-mail from Phillip asking to which address he should send their new E.P. to. I have issues with E.P.’s – five or four songs are never enough – but in this case, I was just happy that they had decided to keep the band going – any sign of life is great. Also, it looks like this E.P. is just a taster for their forthcoming full-length record later this year. Very good news indeed. But it seems like drummer Al have jumped the ship for this one and the cover only says The Ghost as the drummer.

The press release also talks about this E.P. as heavier and harder than the last album. I’m not sure if heaviness and aggression are needed within this band, I mean, Evilyn Strange’s album is very melodic and it sure has its fair share of hooks and catchy choruses, but never in a million years is it possible to call their debut album soft or laid back, no the album is all about hard rock with a melodic vein throughout the whole record and they weren’t afraid to mix styles, something that made that album varied, interesting and totally impossible to get tired of. A sure contender for the Album Of The Year title of 2013. And we all know what that means, right? Yes, expectations. High ones.  So when opener “Let It Rain” breaks loose, it’s quite a shock. Heavier, you said? Really? Oh, f**k yes! The drums set off like a raging bull going for your guts and the guitar riffs like there’s no tomorrow. At first, I was sceptical. It wasn’t bad but this wasn’t the Evilyn Strange I had expected – or wanted. But, already by second listen, I’m smiling. Even though they went totally metal on us – it even bears resemblance to old, early 80’s NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) – they still have managed to keep the Evilyn melodies and it is a damn good tune. “Invisible Man” is also a heavy rocker, but it’s not as furious as the opener. It also holds a killer groove and some amazing catchiness. My favorite song on the record. They get even heavier and harder with “Storm Clouds” and at first, the song is totally lost on me – it just runs by real fast and I couldn’t catch anything that might stick. Fortunately, it does better at second listen, but I’m afraid the song is a bit too hard and aggressive, I just don’t think it fits their brand. That said, I don’t dislike the song, but it’s not my favorite either. On the last album, the ballads were really strong and as “Never” is an atmospheric yet heavy ballad, it’s no surprise that this is another one of their brilliant ballads. “Stay” is also a ballad, but this is more like a power ballad, a power ballad with Thin Lizzy influenced twin lead guitars, an amazing melody and a very emotional vibe all over – awesome!

After their brilliant debut, I expected a lot from this E.P. and I must say I’m not disappointed. It’s way heavier and harder than the debut album and part of me loves that, but part of me isn’t sure if that this heaviness really fits them. I mean, to me, Evilyn Strange’s debut album wasn’t a metal record, but on here there is metal stuff, some of it so heavy I get thrash vibes. But. The recognizable melodies are still intact within their sound and the songs are really strong, so strong that I’m longing for September when Evilyn Strange’s new full length album will be released. I hope that they will go for the more melodic sound they had on their debut, but with some of the heaviness of this E.P. Just leave the most extreme parts at home, please. This E.P., however, is recommended to all rockers out there.

8/10

Other Evilyn Strange reviews:
Mourning Phoebe

Tracklist:

1. Let it Rain
2. Invisible Man
3. Storm Clouds
4. Never
5. Stay