There’s a saying in Hollywood that most production houses dread to hear: “The sequel is never as good as the original.” In the record industry, there is a similar phrase: “The sophomore jinx.” In the case of Pop Evil’s latest album, War Of Angels, both statements are not applicable.
Originally scheduled for a February release, War Of Angels was put on hold the day before it was due to hit stores because of contract issues with Pop Evil’s old label Universal Music Group. A new deal with a new company (eOne Records) was put in place, and the album was finally released on July 5th. All I can say is that War Of Angels was definitely worth the wait.
Pop Evil is a band that took the rock music industry by storm in 2009, with their debut album, Lipstick On The Mirror, one of the best rookie rock releases ever. To me, it’s up there with the first Van Halen record, Kiss’ self-titled debut, and yes, dare I say it, Guns N Roses' Appetite For Destruction. The greatness of their debut release set the stage for easy disappointment with their second record. Fortunately, Pop Evil took everything they did right on the first album and tried their darnedest to make it better the second time around. While not better than Lipstick On The Mirror, War Of Angels easily stands up to the predecessor as a solid, kick-ass, hard rock record.
Opening with the powerful anthem, “Last Man Standing,” Pop Evil starts the record off right. This is a heavy song that people will immediately be singing along with. There is a ton of power felt in Tony Greve's slick licks and Leigh Kakaty’s exceptional vocals. The desire to jump up and scream during this song is strong. The raw power that resonates from the band is incredible and sets the stage nicely for the rest of the disc.
While heavy anthems run rampant throughout the record, they are not the only songs that Pop Evil has learned to conquer. Their take on the power ballad is quite exceptional as well. While “100 In A 55” was the big ballad of Lipstick On The Mirror, “Let It Go” is the huge ballad of War Of Angels, and it could possibly be the ballad of the year. While listening to this album for review, I must have played “Let It Go” at least 20 times. As soon as the song would end, I would hit the repeat button and play it again. It is an amazing song and needs to be released as a single. This monster ballad would tear up the radio charts in no time. Filled with picturesque, poetic lyrics, “Let It Go” features some of the best writing of Leigh Kakaty’s career. “Let It Go” is definitely a strong candidate for song of the year.
Not to be outdone, Kakaty continues his amazing lyric ability on “Purple,” a moderate tempo power track that is filled with greatness. Lines such as “I never realized what you meant to me, until I tried drowning out your memory” resonate with the listener when combined with the beautifully arranged music. The guitar solos stand out strong on “Purple.” Both Greve and Dave Grahs did an amazing job of carefully crafting every note of music to round out this magnificent song.
Overall, War Of Angels is not as grand as Lipstick On The Mirror, but that is mostly due to the fact that there are less songs contained on this album. Clocking in at just over 37 minutes, War Of Angels left me wanting more, which is usually the sign of a fantastic artist. Make no mistake War Of Angels is a strong candidate for record of the year. I can only hope that I will not have to wait another two years for the next batch of Pop Evil songs. However, if their next album is even remotely close to being as grand as this one, then it is a wait that would be worth the time.
Ryo’s Rating: 9 (out of 10)
Last Man Standing
Broken & Betrayed
Monster You Made
Let It Go
Black & Blue