(Hed)p.e. – Forever! album review

California’s nu metal underdogs (Hed)p.e. refuse to fade away

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Whether you regard the nu metal era as the epicentre of all known fun or a calamitous aberration in metal’s complex history, the sheer fact that (Hed)p.e. are very much still a thing in 2016 should at least earn the Californians a hearty ripple of applause.

What is perhaps even more surprising is that they’re making some of the best music of their two-decade career.

2014’s Evolution was the band’s strongest effort since the brilliant Broke back in 2000 and, against the odds, Forever! is even better. It certainly helps that they always had plenty of punk rock snottiness to underpin their relatively straightforward blend of metallic grooves and frontman Jared’s gutter-level rhymes, and the reggae influence that made the second half of Evolution such an unexpected joy has been plundered again for the bubbling, red-eyed likes of Shadowridge, Together and Always. As ever, though, the best moments come when Jared’s motormouth kicks off over big riffs: Closer is an insistent ragga-tinged, rap-rock skirmish with a giant chorus, Waste is a sub-two-minute thugcore neck-wrecker and JahKnow basically sounds like Skindred after a cheap glue binge.