Evilyn Strange

REVIEW: Evilyn Strange – Evilution (2016 EP)

NEW RELEASE

Scan_20160301EVILYN STRANGE – Evilution (2016 limited edition promo EP)

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!

4.5/5 stars

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For Deke‘s review over at 80’s Metal Shatz N Giggles, click here!

For Aaron‘s review at KeepsMeAlive, click here!

For Jon‘s review at e-tainment reviews, click here!

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REVIEW: Evilyn Strange – Mourning Phoebe (2013)

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.

E STRANGE_0002I 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.

I found the album to drag a tad towards the beginning.  “Your Eyes Give You Away” and “Everything”, while both great songs, are a bit slow for me at the start of an album.  To say they’re ballads would be selling them short though, they’re more dramatic songs with heavy moments as well.  “Everything” picks up at the end, and goes into something almost like Poets and Madmen-era Savatage for a minute!

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.

4/5 stars
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