Adjectives that can be used to describe Onyx: heavy, different, solid, fantastic, amazing. After a few spins it is easy to state that Onyx is the best Pop Evil album to date. And while that may seem like a bold statement, it is a true statement. Fans expecting to hear “Monster You Made,” or “100 In A 55,” will not find that here. That doesn’t mean those fans will be disappointed, because Pop Evil has still delivered greatness. Acoustic guitars may be absent, and ballads may be few and far between (technically only one ballad appears on Onyx), but phenomenal music is definitely present and accounted for. Here now is Hard Rock Hideout’s track by track breakdown of the latest LP from Pop Evil.
Goodbye My Friend
Opening track, “Goodbye My Friend,” is a solid, hard rocking, modern blast. The addition of Nick Fueling (lead guitar) and Chaci Riot (drums) are felt immediately. And while the absence of Tony Greve and Dylan Allison is noticeable, the new players are taking Pop Evil in a whole different direction. “Goodbye My Friend” sets the tone for what the rest of Onyx is going to sound like: a fast, hard hitting masterpiece. The solos in this song are outstanding and vocalist Leigh Kakaty reaches down and pushes out a growling, gravelly voice that has not been heard previously.
Deal With The Devil
“Deal With The Devil” is a fast song with a hard and heavy beat. This song hit hard right out of the gate and quickly became an instant favorite. I didn’t think that there was a song that I would enjoy more than “Trenches” on this record, but I was wrong. There are multiple songs that are better than “Trenches” and “Deal With The Devil” is one of them. Crunching guitars from Nick Fueling and Dave Grahs dominate this song and turn it into a gem. Add to that Kakaty’s voice in peak form, and there’s high chance for “Deal With The Devil” to become a huge hit.
“Trenches” was the first single released for Onyx and for a while I really thought it was the best song on the record. That is no longer the case (as you will see). Yet, “Trenches” is one of the best Pop Evil songs to date. Crunching, heavy guitars open the track and are immediately followed by the pounding drums of Riot. The powerful vocals that Kakaty nails throughout along with the urgency that the song is sung in makes this one of the most powerful anthems to come out of the Pop Evil camp.
Torn To Pieces
This is easily the weakest song on the album. That’s not to say it’s a horrendous song, it’s just not as strong as the other tracks. The subject matter is very touching (Leigh Kakaty wrote it as a tribute after his father passed away), and the song is heartfelt, but “Torn To Pieces” lacks the power that all other Pop Evil ballads have contained. And considering this is the only true ballad on Onyx, it was quite surprising. Heading into the disc, I thought “Torn To Pieces” was going to be a song that I constantly played. However, it looks like it will be just the opposite. I seem to hit skip a lot to get to the next track.
“Divide” is another strong, hard hitting, modern rock gem that only Pop Evil can deliver. This is also another song that defines the new direction Pop Evil is heading in. There would never be a song like “Divide” on the band’s previous two albums because they hadn’t emerged to that state in their career yet. With “Divide” the band has embraced the modern rock sound that they seemed to be keeping at bay on previous records. Here, they embrace the sound and turned in a strong, enjoyable song.
“Beautiful” is a mid-tempo piece that is quite enjoyable. The subject matter is exceptional, as the message in the music is we are all beautiful to someone in our own way. Regardless of sexual orientation, the color of our skin, personal interests, or anything else, we are all beautiful today and everyday for the rest of our lives. “Beautiful” is a very uplifting song and one that I believe has the potential to be absolutely astonishing in concert. Personally, I can’t wait to hear this song performed live.
Silence & Scars
Another ballad is delivered in the form of “Silence & Scars.” The song emerges with a strange, yet cool, attention grabbing guitar riff. It sets the stage for the rest of the song. Once again, Kakaty’s voice is strong and smooth and while it’s not a true ballad, “Silence & Scars” is up there with “Monster You Made” for one of the best ballads in the Pop Evil catalog. I expect that this will be a chart topping hit in the very near future.
This is the heaviest song that Pop Evil has ever done. It sounds like a mash up of Marilyn Manson, Rage Against The Machine, and some darker modern rock bands. After the first couple of listens, I didn’t think that I was going to like this song at all. Then, after a few more spins, it started to grow on me. Now, “Sick Sense” is one of my favorite tracks on the record. It clearly shows the evolution of Pop Evil and the deep influence that Fueling and Riot had on the band for the recording of this record. Three years ago, I wouldn’t even consider “Sick Sense” a Pop Evil song. Now, part of me is hoping this is the direction the band heads in over the next couple of albums.
“Fly Away” is a return to the Pop Evil sound that fans have come to know over the years. Hard rocking, clean, and a whole lot of fun, “Fly Away” is one of the strongest Pop Evil songs recorded. This is destined to be a sing along classic in almost no time. “Fly Away” is another song that I am anxious to see the band perform in concert. There is so much raw power and potential for this song to be a climactic moment during their concert. And while the song structure is very simple, the delivery is impeccable, and it is what pushes “Fly Away” over the top.
Behind Closed Doors
This is another song that took a few listens to grow on me. At first, I wasn’t quite sure that I liked this song, but after a few plays, I realized how grand of a song “Behind Closed Doors” is. Starting off slow and then building into a hurried frenzy, “Behind Closed Doors” is a song that has a lot to offer. The song is rich, layered, and deep, which may be why it took so long to grow on me. There is a lot happening within “Behind Closed Doors” and it takes several listens to truly appreciate all of the great music that is being played back at the listener.
Welcome To Reality
Another quick, simple, and highly enjoyable song, “Welcome To Reality” is standard Pop Evil flair. Filled with high energy and strong vocals from Kakaty, “Welcome To Reality” is a song that delivers. If “Trenches” has a sibling, it would be “welcome To Reality.” This is a strong song that serves as a great reminder that music can sometimes just be straight out fun.
“Flawed” is an odd song that I haven’t quite decided how I feel about. I love the opening guitar riff from Nick Fueling and I love how the drums come crashing in behind the riff. Yet, there is something about the song that keeps it from standing out as all of the other tracks have. I am unable to identify exactly what is holding this song back, but the simple fact remains that “Flawed” isn’t as grand as 10 of the other Onyx tracks. Maybe it’s due to the fact that it is the last song on the record? I have no idea. What I do know is that it will take several more listens to determine if “Flawed” is one of the better Pop Evil catalog songs.
Rating: Out of 10
01. Goodbye My Friend
02. Deal With The Devil
04. Torn To Pieces
07. Silence & Scars
08. Sick Sense
09. Fly Away
10. Behind Closed Doors
11. Welcome To Reality
Pop Evil Is:
Leigh Kakaty – Vocals
Matt DiRito – Bass
Dave Grahs – Rhythm Guitar
Nick Fueling – Lead Guitar
Chachi Riot – Drums