Despite the shit hitting the fan on planet Earth for the past few years, it hasn’t stopped Puppy doing their bit in making the world a better place. Becoming underground heroes over the past seven years with their off-centre grunge/metal hybrid, fans have been on tenterhooks for a follow-up to 2019’s belter factory, The Goat. Though the band delivered on their third EP, iii, that same year, which displayed their doomier side, it seemed that they were ready to take on a sound that fans could really sink their teeth into. And goddamn, have they delivered here.
In its riffalicious glory, the aptly titled Pure Evil is what every sophomore album should strive to achieve. The Goat showcased that the three-piece could undoubtedly write massively catchy tunes by the barrel-load, but this record utilises their songwriting abilities to the next level, adding a gravitas that sucks you in from the off.
Make no mistake, there are plenty of earworms the album delivers on, like The Kiss or Angel, but it’s tracks like headbanger Wasted Little Heart or the Deftones-meets-Ghost concoction Spellbound that take you by complete surprise. Just when you think you know what Puppy are capable of, they chuck a U-turn and bash out an onslaught of pure heavy metal, weaving through hooky melancholic alt-rock that is totally unexpected yet doesn’t feel contrived.
Pure Evil feels like a natural progression that’s led to Puppy really flexing their musical muscles, especially for vocalist/guitarist Jock Norton, whose range on a six- string just baffles the brain – from serenading tenderness to gut-busting shred. Though jaw-dropping, it wouldn’t have the same effect on this album without Billy Howard Price’s thunderous drumming and Will Michael’s driving basslines. Puppy’s most sophisticated release to date, and an absolute must-listen.