Well alright alright alright! 2016 has been a stinky year so far with the winter “blahs” and far too many musical deaths. It’s time for something new and something positive. Thankfully the trio Evilyn Strange have picked this time to return with their new EP, Evilution.
I like a sense of continuity in cover art, and lead singer Phillip Strange is responsible for this one. I like that you can immediately tell it’s the same band. With the last album, Mourning Phoebe, I couldn’t quite tell what kind of music I was going to find inside. Evilution on the other hand looks like rock and roll and nothing but. Are you ready to be slain?
I was surprised by the heaviness and speed of the opening track “Let It Rain”. Great riff, great vocal melody, and tasteful use of backing keyboards — I get a sense of 80’s metal meeting the modern age, and I like that just fine. In particular it’s the menacing double bass of “The Ghost” (drums/keys) that drives the song into your skull. Once it’s in there, it ain’t coming out.
“Invisible Man” grooves rather than thrashes, but again the tasteful backing keyboard adds nice accents and moods. Phillip kicks ass on this vocal, imbuing the song with melancholy power. Throw on a smoking solo by Mikael Johannesson and step back because this baby explodes! I can’t say who this song reminds me of. It has elements of lots of bands that I enjoy, from Sabbath to Whitesnake. But “Storm Clouds” is thrash metal, pure and simple. I can’t find a more appropriate tag. The Ghost’s slamming on it, while Mikael riffs away faster than I can headbang. The only thing unlike thrash metal is Phillip’s singing, always melodic. This is challenging, impressive stuff — maybe a bit too busy? It packs more into one song than most hard rock bands put into an entire side.
More Strange-like is “Never”, a powerful metal ballad. Phillip injects the song with the required angst and there’s even a hint of some bluesy slide guitar. A proper soft ballad ends the EP on a dramatic note. This song “Stay” couldn’t be more different from “Storm Clouds”, only two songs prior. Somehow it all works as a fairly cohesive EP. That’s the vocals of Phillip Strange holding it together, I think, tying the songs.
Evilyn Strange named this EP appropriately. They are evolving, as all bands must. That they took such a strong lean on old, classic thrash and metal influences was a delightful surprise to me. I didn’t see that one coming. But much like evolution in the biological world, old traits still remain. These are the memorable riffs, melodies and musical themes. What’s very interesting however is that Evilyn Strange have a full-length album coming later this year, and it’s entirely new material. Can we expect another evolution? I think it’s possible….
Check out Evilyn Strange at evilynstrange.co.uk, where you can buy this limited edition CD for a piddly £3.99. Click the link on their page if you prefer iTunes. Do what you need to get this in your ears!