I have been a (hed)pe fan since forever (pun intended) and when I heard that they were releasing a tenth studio album I couldn’t help but get excited to see whether or not they could follow their worldwide critically acclaimed album ‘Evolution’, released in 2014; to the same success.
(hed)pe have always mixed many genres of music into their songs and this album is no different. In fact despite the many influences you can hear they still manage to maintain their core (hed)pe sound mainly due to lead vocalists Jahred; whose vocal range continues to impress me after 10 years. From the heavy metal riffs in the song ‘Pay Me’ to the reggae sound of ‘Shadowridge’ this album is as varied as it is catchy.
The album is organised in two halves; but they ease you in from one half to the other. The first half is very metal/rock while the second is very reggae and the songs progress from one style to the other seamlessly. Listening to the whole album I did not notice when one clear style finished and the other started mainly because of the metal/rock/rap/reggae fusion that (Hed)pe are known for.
From the very first song I knew this album was going to be something special. ‘Live’ starts with a guitar crescendo then kicks in with a death metal growl from Jahred and straight into rap in true (hed)pe fashion. Metal riffs blast in with ‘Pay Me’ and continue through ‘Closer’ and ‘Hurt’ (which are my personnel favourites) and then the punk hits you with ‘Waste’. The song ‘One of A Kind’ starts off reggae and then kicks in at the chorus with some punk/rock and at this is the point the album starts to progress to reggae.
Jahred’s voice and and style stays very strong throughout the whole album and it is hard to fault. From his strong rap style to his melodic hooks, after ten years there is no sign of him slowing down. The lyrics are very punchy and sometimes hard hitting. It’s clear that they want to send a message and if you listen to the meanings behind them, I am sure you will find something to relate to. However the songs are so catchy and head boppy, that sometimes you forget to hear the words that are being said which is not a bad thing. Jahred is an amazing vocalist and one of my favourites because he has the ability to sing in any style.
Obviously (hed)pe is not just one man. Gregzilla’s guitar skills are nothing short of amazing on this album. I talk a lot about the different styles used and Gregzilla brings it all to a high standard. At the risk of repeating myself, he fully captures the different sounds from metal in ‘Pay Me’ to the very rock sounding ‘Hurt’ whose style reminds me of Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine, but that isn’t surprising as RATM are one of those quintessential bands that inspired a whole generation. But I am not taking away his skill as a guitarist. Gregzilla has proven that he can play any style flawlessly and it’s an absolute pleasure listening to what he has brought to the album.
Sometimes it’s hard to pick out the bass as guitars normally over shadow the sound but Kurtis does extremely well complementing the overall sound of each song especially in the latter parts of the album. Again I give credit to all the band members for their diverse skills and as with the rest of the band, Kurtis can play a variety of styles. They are clear and give each song a bold and punchy feel. Even when the guitar parts are minimal the bass is filling out the void making the tracks feel full of sound.
Finally we come to the drums. Like the others Trauma is skilled in various styles. I have nothing but praise for his amazing talent bringing his strong playing style to the metal tracks and his soft groove beats to the reggae. I can’t help but start swinging my hands around air drumming.
Overall I love this album as you can probably tell. Even if I wasn’t a fan of (hed)pe I think I would still love this release. I think its easily accessible to many people and I urge you to check this out. To me ‘Forever’ not only gives me the same amount of joy listening to it as ‘Evolution’ did but it surpasses it. For that I am very happy as most bands after 10 years have trouble maintaining its core sound. It seems they have their rawness back by not being too over produced which I feel is a problem sometimes. It’s good to see a band that still has a lot to give after so many years. It is clear they still love to create music they want to make.