Hailing from the great state of Michigan, this band of hardcore rockers have actually been around since 2001, formed from pieces of other Michigan bands, known as TenFive. They independently released an album, War of The Roses in 2004 and a 3-track EP, Ready or Not in 2006, the latter featuring the concert favourite Somebody Like You, which also features on their debut studio album Lipstick On The Mirror, released in 2008. In 2011, Pop Evil released War Of Angels which contained lots of rock songs but also ballads, and got good reviews. Can Onyx exceed the standard of their past albums?
“Onyx” Album Cover, designed by Christopher Lovell
Album Rating: ***** (5/5 Stars)
The record starts with Goodbye My Friend, a song with very heavy guitars, giving us an indication of what they joined the music business to do: play rock music. It also has its metal touches too, with lead singer Leigh Kakaty’s vocals almost being shouted in some parts, but that’s what makes it a great song. The message of the song is pretty self-explanatory: saying goodbye to a friend who has betrayed and lied to them. It’s a the perfect first song to give just a taste of what has yet to come. Deal With The Devil has a similar format to this, but is shown in a completely different way. The guitars are used to build up to the song, but don’t stop and start again in a massive burst, like in Goodbye My Friend. However, this is a high energy, fun song, which could easily be played a show with the whole crowd rocking out to the rebellious lyrics.
Trenches, the single they released from the album,shows the true style of their new music: heavy guitar riffs, a message of struggle and hope, and Kakaty’s vocals being stretched to the limit, but for good reasons. This song just has so much liberation to it and puts the message in my mind that anything is achievable and that you will find your way out of the trenches and stand up proud. The mood of the record is darkened slightly with the ballad Torn To Pieces. In true Pop Evil style, the verses of this song are sung by only Kakaty’s voice an acoustic and bass guitar, leading up to the chorus which contains some heavier guitars. I like this song a lot, partly because it’s a lot less intense than the last 2, but also partly because of the message of the song, which is something a lot of people can relate to; missing someone that isn’t with them anymore and being torn up about it.
Divide brings the mood back up by including a classic rock sounding song, with a mix of heavy guitars and short verses, also with a big build up to the song, which just makes it sound even better than is shown from the iTunes preview. Beautiful is a great song, with a reassurance to the listener that they are beautiful and everything is going to be okay. I think the guitars and lack of them at the chorus make the song more special and is empowering to anyone going through any type of emotional battle, needing a song that they can use in help to overcome their troubles. Silence & Scars begins with a light plucking of a few guitar strings, and I honestly didn’t know what to expect, but it was another ballad. That’s not a bad thing though, as it’s a great song with relatable, meaningful lyrics and great vocals from Kakaty, as you can hear the pain in his voice whilst singing this song. Sick Sense starts off in the same way as Silence & Scars, as Kakaty sings a verse with just the drum beat and what seems to be a dubstep beat, but then develops into a rock song in the chorus with heavy guitars and vocals. Later on in the song, the guitarists really show their true ability by backing up Kakaty’s harsh vocals brilliantly.
Pop Evil get back to full on guitar and vocals in Fly Away, which has a really catchy chorus and again gives the guitarists to show what they are really made of with some great solos. However, the song lacks a real message or much vocal adventure. Although it’s great, it’s not one of my favourite songs I’m afraid. Behind Closed Doors starts off as a ballad, but you can feel that the song is going to evolve into a rock and roll song, which it does, very well. The song also brings back some metal influences with a few shouty vocals and heavy guitars. Speaking of which, there is an amazing guitar solo in this song, that I absolutely love rocking out to every time I hear it. Welcome To Reality starts and continues with heavy guitars, which is good for a song like this, with a message of brutality and the need of a good wake up call. I like this song because the message of the song fits the guitars and brutal rhythm. This is another one of my favourites because it feels like a song people can relate to a lot, if they are having troubles and need a bit of a reality check.
Flawed is another one of their songs which starts off sounding like a ballad, but goes into this amazing guitar riff and Kakaty’s vocals show how much he has improved his voice since his early work, to create an amazing song and reach new limits. The Beautiful Alternative Bonus Mix is a song that is exclusive to the iTunes album and is not included in the bundles that are being shipped. Even though only people who bought the album from iTunes can listen to it, I’m going to review it anyway. The song is an acoustic version of the song; just a violin, piano and Kakaty’s vocals. The fact that it’s completely stripped down from the original and is so pure is what makes the song amazing.
Overall, Onyx is a great Rock album, and is certainly Pop Evil’s best work yet. So if you’re into Rock music, I would definitely recommend getting this. Keep up the good work boys!
DISCLAIMER: I do not own any of the copyright for the content of this post, the album cover is used with permission from the owner.