rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Arrival
02. Paranoid (Crash & Burn)
03. Circles
04. Eye Of The Storm
05. Sound of Glory
06. Skeletons
07. Worth It
08. Who Will We Become
09. Wrong Direction (featuring DEVOUR THE DAY)
10. Dead Reckoning (featuring FIT FOR A KING)
11. Raging Bull (featuring ZILLION)

POP EVIL faced an uphill battle from the get-go. While most rock acts in the mid-2000s were coming out of major rock markets, POP EVIL hailed from the small town of Muskegon, Michigan, an unlikely spot for a blockbuster rock band. But, armed with catchy, well-written tunes and a lot of rock star attitude, the band rose up, becoming one of the most popular names on active rock radio.

POP EVIL released their debut studio album, "Lipstick on the Mirror", in 2008, and the album was re-released by Universal Republic in 2009. Now, "Skeletons", the band's seventh studio album, carries forth their familiar brand of melody-heavy arena rock.

"Arrival", the sparse, eerie 22-second musical introduction bleeds into explosive single "Paranoid (Crash & Burn)". Here, POP EVIL set the mood for the record, delivering an epic guitar introduction and vocalist Leigh Kakaty's powerful vocals. "Circles" is another melodic rocker, with a huge chorus and mega hooks, buoyed by heavy guitar riffing. Vocally, Kakaty has a more rhythmic delivery in the verses, which moves the song along and gives the verses and chorus a very different feel. Early single "Eye of the Storm" follows, again bringing POP EVIL's tried-and-true brand of warm, melodic choruses and guitar-driven fury.

In an album of similar-sounding tracks, "Sound of Glory" is a refreshing break from the norm, with a pulsating synth beat and dance-worthy chorus. Kakaty pulls out his rap-rock chops with a vibe that recalls P.O.D. or FALLING IN REVERSE in the verses. Elsewhere, "Worth It" is a highlight and no-brainer choice for a single at some point. It's a heartfelt ballad with Kakaty singing about his skeletons — get it, "Skeletons"? — and feeling like his heart is frozen.

Even if there isn't much experimentation on "Skeletons", the album is solid with lots of stand-alone tracks, and if you're someone who loves radio-friendly active rock, then "Skeletons" has everything you would want from a record in 2023.

Author: Anne Erickson
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