Sound — 8
(həd) p.e. formed in California in 1994, labeling themselves g-punk (gangsta punk or possibly a play on p-funk), and began their weird career as a rapper-fronted punk rock band. They've mixed genres and influences quite a lot through their career, naming everything from Notorious B.I.G. to NIN to Bob Marley to Sex Pistols as influences. The only founding members remaining are Jahred (vocals) and Mawk (bass) since the departure of DJ Product 1969 in 2013. Currently, the band also includes Jaxon on guitar since 2004 and Trauma on drums since 2009. "Evolution" is the band's 10th full-length studio release, and includes 12 tracks with a runtime of approximately 52 minutes. The track "One More Body" was released as the lead single for the album. There is much more in the way of guitar fills and solos than on previous releases.
The album opens up with the track, "No Turning Back," which has an intro of bongo or congo drums, but heavy riffing comes in and quickly drowns out the almost tribal drumming. The lyrical delivery has a gang vocal "Huh!" between each line, which is actually has a pretty awesome effect on this track. "Lost in Babylon" has a melodic guitar intro, with a groove-heavy bass line coming in and some more traditional rapped vocals with the subject being drug use, or as the title says, being lost in Babylon. "Jump the Fence" has a very RATM vibe in the intro, which in a way runs through the whole track, but there are also aspects that are very much not playing on that RATM vibe during the track as well. There is a little guitar "fill" near the end of the track, and part of a live performance spliced into the track that has a really cool effect near the end of the track. "2 Many Games" has a chorus-heavy clean guitar riff in the opening, with a nice watery wavery effect. There is an instrument I'm going to say it is a harmonica, but I know I'm wrong, but I can't place the instrument, that kind of plays along with the intro melody for a minute. The song has a pretty cool structure to it, and kept me interested throughout. "No Tomorrow" has more of a modern metal or metalcore feeling to it than most of the rest of the album, and the lyrics and vocal delivery kind of match that style. "Let It Rain" is an interesting track to me, in large part because of the choir type chorus and the muted guitar riffs running through a lot of the track. "One More Body" won me over pretty quick because of the lyrics - I can't help but applaud anything that is anti-establishment. "Never Alone" opens up with a cool little guitar melody and a driving drum part and the song basically is about how the singer will always be there for you. I don't know if this is a traditional love song, or if possibly it was written to the songwriter's child or something like that. "The Higher Crown" starts out with some odd little sounds - crickets, a storm with thunder, possibly some kind of machinery, a crowd chanting sometimes, etc. There isn't really any real "content" in the track. Now starts the album's heavily reggae influenced songs. "Nowhere 2 Go" has a strong reggae sound to it, even carrying over to the way in which the vocals are delivered. "Let It Burn" also has a strong reggae sound, and less rap and more traditional reggae singing until a short rapped verse near the end of the track. "Hold On" is another reggae track, with some heavy use of delay on the vocals, but some of my favorite guitar soloing on the album - kind of like if Gilmour was playing reggae.
Lyrics — 9
Jahred (aka Jared Gomes) is a founding member of the band, and provides the diverse vocal performances on (həd) p.e.'s albums. This includes rapping, screaming, melodic singing and even metal-style death growls occasionally. He has, if nothing else, proven himself to have a diverse skillset as a vocalist over the years. On "Evolution" there is less in the way of the occasional death growls, but more rapping and screaming with some limited melodic singing. I was fairly impressed by Jahred's performance on this album. As far as lyrics go, it is the same type of lyrics the band has come to be known for - basically politically charged anger, sex and drugs. As a sample of the lyrics, here are some transcribed by me for "One More Body," so please excuse any errors on my part: "Yeah, uh, yeah/ one more body/ feed the machine/ gotta keep it running/ the gears crush the limbs/ boy, gotta keep 'em coming/ the bodies they pile up/ one by one/ the grinder spits bones and brains just for fun/ bleed the machine/ gotta keep on fighting the shadows until the darkness fades/ gotta keep on lighting the way/ we grind up the greed, the fear and the hate/ so wake up or be swept away/ I'm nobody's victim/ I'm the predator not the prey/ I'm much more than a number/ How can you sleep when your head is on fire/ I don't wanna be one more body for the grinder/ one more body/ grind em up/ one more body/ grind em up." I can definitely get behind this song and the message.
Overall Impression — 8
(həd) p.e. isn't one of my favorite bands, but their past couple of albums have done a much better job of hitting the spot for me, with a much more focused rock/metal sound. Jahred's lyrics have been more focused and his vocal delivery has seemed much more focused as well. My favorite tracks from the album would have to be "One More Body," "Hold On," and "No Tomorrow." I didn't really dislike any tracks on the album, but the closest I got to dislike was thinking that "The Higher Crown" didn't really serve any purpose besides separating the reggae tracks from the rest of the album. At the end of the day, this is one of my favorite releases by (həd) p.e., and I think a good album for existing fans or as a gateway album into the band's other work.