Pop Evil “Versatile” Album Review with Hayley Cramer on Drums – 5/21/21
In early 2021 Pop Evil released two singles “Breath Again” & “Work” in advance of their new album, “Versatile”, released today on Entertainment One. “Breath Again” soared to the top of the rock charts and hit #1, setting the stage for this band’s 6th studio album release.
Originally hailing from Michigan, Pop Evil has earned their place in the evolving rock scene since 2008, achieving (now) six #1 singles along the way. The band features Leigh Kakaty on lead vocals, Dave Grahs on rhythm guitar and backing vocals, Matt DiRito on bass and backing vocals, Nick Fuelling on lead guitar and backing vocals, and the newest addition of Hayley Cramer on drums. “Versatile” is a robust work, combining the strengths of each member to form a powerful and uncompromising modern rock sound.
Despite being the third track on the album, “Breathe Again” was the first single released, marking the tone for what was to come. As implied by the groups name, this track and the bands sound as a whole is a striking combination of catchy, euphoric melodies and chord progressions, offset by chugging riffs, slamming drum grooves, and attention grabbing vocals with poignant lyrics. All these elements are carefully constructed and packaged with a tight, polished production style, giving the band their unique signature sound.
Opening with clean guitar chords and a relaxed but driving drum pocket, “Survivor” immediately strikes a more personal tone, giving the listener time to ease into the song, before suddenly being dropped into a head-banging riff accompanied by furious screams, only to be released back into the clean and easy-going feel for the remainder of the song. Hayley’s drumming provides a solid and comfortable foundation for the rest of the band to expand upon dynamically, while simultaneously adding nuance to the feel. This takes the listener on a quick, but incredibly satisfying musical journey cleverly presented in the feel and form of a more traditional pop song.
“Set Me Free” immediately grabs your attention, ripping into a groove-face inducing riff complimented by drummer Hayley Cramer’s driving backbeat and syncopated bass drum patterns. Each section of the song leaves the listener satisfied while continually introducing something new, setting up the sections to follow effortlessly.
Wasting no time, “Fire Inside” launches the listener into an anthemic atmosphere filled with distorted guitars and synthesizers, before opening up into an uplifting chorus. The production on the drums combined with Hayley’s straight forward, no-nonsense playing style keeps the song driving through the lilt of the chorus, and the contrasting straight riff accents that define the verses. The rest of the song feels like a rollercoaster, taking the listener from the highest highs of the chorus, to the mosh-pit creating riffs, finally concluding as suddenly as it began, making for an excellent closing track.
“Versatile” gives both new and long-time Pop Evil fans something to celebrate, staying true to the bands recognizable sound, while also presenting something new at each turn. This record delivers a powerful and captivating performance, earning its place amongst the best in Pop Evil’s body of work.
You can buy, download or stream the album by visiting: www.popevil-versatile.com
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Visit Haley’s artist page on WFL III Drums:
WFL III Artist Page: https://wfliiidrums.com/pages/hayley-cramer