EVILYN STRANGE – Mourning Phoebe (2013)
I’ll be the first to admit that I rarely listen to new bands anymore, even though 20 years ago I was on top of every new band coming out, good or bad. It was a pleasure to hear a strong album like Mourning Phoebe. Then I found out that the band Evilyn Strange aren’t newcomers, although Mourning Phoebe is the first release under that name. When they first started releasing hard rock as Double Eclipse, it was the height of Brit Pop, grunge, and all that. Thankfully times have turned since then.
I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect based on the artwork. What I ended up getting was a pretty solid mix of hard rock, heavy metal, grunge, pop rock, and other assorted loud music. The first song “The Ballad of Evilyn Strange” is a perfect example. The verses have an Alice In Chains drone-y vibe to them, while underneath I hear a guitar hook reminiscent of “Tower’s Calling” by Europe. With that already in the mix, the choruses blast out in singalong fashion.
There’s a lot of great playing here, particularly the guitar playing. The solos sound like a great mix of shred and composition. I also hear a lot of that 80’s LA metal sound that I like. It’s mixed up with more progressive moments, piano breaks and plenty of hooks.
There’s an epic quality to many of the songs, and others just rock out. “Just A Little” is a good example of a solid hard rock song that delivers hooks directly and immediately. “Love Finds You” also rocks solidly with a slippery slide guitar. I’m a sucker for the slide. Good song, great chorus.
The only other thing I would criticize is the drum sound. I’m not a big fan of it, but the truth is you get used to it and it doesn’t detract from the songs. Songwriting is more important than a snare drum sound.
Evilyn Strange are an English/Swedish band consisting of twins Phillip and Al Strange (vocals & bass, drums & keys respectively) and guitarist Mikael Johannesson. Lemme tell you, Johannesson smokes! I don’t know his exact influences, but I think I can hear a bit of Dio-era Vivian Campbell. Either way, he absolutely cuts it.
Finally, I think the cover art is cool and eye-catching, and I like that they included a guitar pick in the CD. To me it’s a touch like this that keeps physical product interesting in the face of downloading.
I like this album. I wish them success.