To be released on March 7, 2016 (Thirteen 772 Music)
The expression “jack of all trades, master of none” is in some ways applicable to Evilyn Strange given that their five-song EP Evilution covers a lot of ground from slow moody ballads to thrash like speedy deliveries without truly excelling on each extreme. However, where Evilyn Strange may well have mastered their craft is when it comes to playing mid-tempo rockers. I am thinking specifically of the song “Invisible Man” which has so much feel and melody and oooohh, sounds so good! If every song on Evilution was as good as “Invisible Man” — this album would have to be a contender for album of the year.
As it turns out, Evilyn Strange appear to be a two-man band featuring singer Phillip Strange and guitarist/bassist Mikael Johannesson. I am not sure if The Ghost who is credited with drumming and keyboard programming — don’t be scared about the latter, it is tastefully done — is an actual fledged member or a ghost player on the album as the promo photos only seem to include Strange and Johannesson. Evilution is the follow-up album to Evilyn Strange‘s debut album Mourning Phoebe and precedes a new 11 song album to be released later this year. If Evilyn Strange‘s plan was to whet people’s appetite with their five-song EP Evilution, they have done a good job because the production and songs on Evilution sound overall very good.
There’s no question that when a band tries to cover such a wide range of styles, there are going to be some musical styles that stick better than others. Strange‘s bluesy vocal delivery excels on the moody mid-tempo rockers which Evilyn Strange mostly deliver on Evilution. Aside from the amazing “Invisible Man” which is definitely the highlight of the album, the EP opener “Let It Rain” and the slower “Never” are also strong compositions which will give Whitesnake and their frontman David Coverdale a run for their money. The thrash like musical pace of “Storm Clouds” mixed with Strange‘s singing, which mostly stays at the mid-tempo song pace, is an odd addition and makes for a weak track compared to the aforementioned other songs. I find that although Evilyn Strange do pull it off, thrash metal is not an area where they excel in any way aside from the guitar solo which would make Metallica‘s guitarist Kirk Hammett proud. Evilution ends on a slower pace with the ballad “Stay” which while not my favorite on the album grows on me a little more each time that I listen to it.
Having never heard any songs from Evilyn Strange prior to popping their Evilution album into my CD player, I have to say that I am now excited to hear their upcoming new full-length album later this year. Evilyn Strange are definitely worth checking out and in particular, their song “Invisible Man” is a real winner (in a non-sarcastic way).
01. Let It Rain
02. Invisible Man
03. Storm Clouds
Phillip Strange – vocals
Mikael Johannesson – lead guitar, bass guitar
The Ghost – drums, keyboard programming
Produced by Evilyn Strange
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, February 2016