Pop Evil, live in London

Support: In Search Of Sun, Beneath Dead Waves

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Winter breathes a cruel, unforgiving wind upon the UK once more, granting us access to use the 'It's bloody cold, isn't it? It's getting dark proper early, eh?' icebreaker within any social situation. As we prepare for the annual financial suicide that is Christmas, Pop Evil grace us with their presence and remind us that it's not all bad.

A modest crowd congregates for Beneath Dead Waves [5] and we’re greeted with a slight disappointment; their groove metal riffs and occasional forays into Painkiller-era Judas Priest melodies are clumsily constructed and delivered in a somewhat lacklustre fashion. If these guys hone down their tunes and scrap the clean singing (this dude’s screams are wicked), they can concentrate on being a damn good metal band rather than a bit of a mish-mash.

In Search Of Sun [7] have no such problems – tighter and more well-rounded as a unit, frontman Adam Leader coaxes the growing crowd into a half hour display of showmanship (despite a dire mix for the first few songs). Coming off as a hench hybrid between Phil Anselmo and Myles Kennedy, Leaders’ voice packs enough grit to keep pit-fiends happy but also possesses that undeniably anthemic quality. This, along with the rest of the band busting out Maiden-level twin harmonies and doing their best Steve Harris impressions satiates the crowd’s auditory appetite. For now…

And then we have Pop Evil [8]. Having released three albums since 2008, the band’s only foray into British territories thus far came with last year’s support slot for Five Finger Death Punch. Understandably, with this being Pop Evil’s first headline show in London following little media buzz, you can forgive the audience for being a tad sparse.

That being said: for such a small turnout, they make a right bloody racket. Responding to the Michigan metallers’ sleazy metal in a rather fabulous manner, London do not disappoint – the words to Hero are roared back at vocalist Leigh Kakaty, a man visibly dumbfounded and humbled by such a response. In his own words: “It’s not about how many people… It’s about what kind of people”. Damn right, mate.

Throughout the band’s hour-long stint, no time is spent on filler. Every track on display is an iron-clad, certified hard rock tune – whether it be ballad Monster You Made Me or the larynx-lacerating screams at the end of Goodbye My Friend, it’s sonic gold. And let’s not forget that spine-tingling, pant-shitting grunge throwback during Deal With The Devil. The band are clearly having fun; drummer Chaci Riot frequently launches from his stool as if he’s playing atop a colony of angry termites while bassist Matt DiRito dances the night away in his Cradle Of Filth-cum-Ann Summers lacy shirt.

Punters always flock to see the likes of Nickelback, Buckcherry and Shinedown. Pop Evil surpass the aforementioned acts in both song-writing and performance, any day of the week – basically, they’re not re-inventing the wheel, but they are keeping rock accessible without being beige. We know it’s only rock ‘n’ roll, but we like it.

Alec Chillingworth

Alec is a longtime contributor with first-class BA Honours in English with Creative Writing, and has worked for Metal Hammer since 2014. Over the years, he's written for Noisey, Stereoboard, uDiscoverMusic, and the good ship Hammer, interviewing major bands like Slipknot, Rammstein, and Tenacious D (plus some black metal bands your cool uncle might know). He's read Ulysses thrice, and it got worse each time.