The Forces of Evil – Friend or Foe? (CD)

Hey, I didn’t know a guy from Reel Big Fish started a new band! Seriously though, The Forces of Evil is a band in a style that I haven’t heard much of in the recent years, excluding Slow Gherkin and The Spitvalves. The Forces of Evil are much more pop-influenced than either of those bands, and could even draw comparisons to the earliest Goldfinger. As what could be taken from any album from Jive Records, best known as the label who unleashed both Britney Spears and the Backstreet boys on the world, the production on this album is immaculate, even going too far at points, making the band sound like nothing more than a computer sub-routine.

Still, The Forces of Evil are immensely fueled by their anger towards various causes, starting off with the obscenity-laden “Angry Anthem”, going into the Dead Kennedys-influenced hate-fest (against bigots, of all people) cover of “Go To Hell”, originally by Suburban Rhythm. .The Forces of Evil really take the soul out of the Van Halen classic “Dance the Night Away”. Even if both Goldfinger and Reel Big Fish were able to re-do the same 80s anthem in “Take On Me”, this neither means that any song from that era is ripe for plucking or that The Forces of Evil should be doing covers in the first place. Actually, the original tracks, even if they do sound like pretty generic ska infused with pop-punk, still are tracks that will get your toes tapping and your head bopping. Still, I found myself not really finding much to like with The Forces of Evil beyond this very shallow level of sound. There really is not much depth to any of these songs – most of these are the traditional songs about nothing – at best, they deal with loss and love.

Nothing is wrong with the technicality of The Forces of Evil – in fact, everything is scripted to a tee with little room for any improvisation, even in the solos. “Worst Day” tries to expand the horizon of The Forces of Evil with the incorporation of a sizzling bass solo, but negates any gains by incorporating a horn section with a number of identically-sounding pieces of brass. To be serious, some of the lyrics have almost as bad of rhymes as the new Rancid album; for example, take “Maybe I’m Wrong”, which has: ”Well every time that I think I’m gonna do it / I never make it through it, and every time I hold my head up high someone punches me right in the eye.” The Forces of Evil can run with any of the remaining pop-ska acts, but I’ve heard this album done too many times before. The Forces of Evil do have brief flashes of brilliance that could be worked on to make a sublimely excellent ska band. I know I will be looking forward to their next album.

Rating : 4.9/10

Top Tracks : Angry Anthem, Independent, Go To Hell

The Forces of Evil – Friend or Foe? / 11 Tracks / 2003 Jive Records / http://theforcesofevil-ska.com / http://www.jiverecords.com / Released 21 October 2003 / Reviewed 17 November 2003 /

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