[25th March 2013]
[Frostbyte Media Inc.]
02. Broken Pieces
04. Looking for Myself
05. Bring On The Rain
07. The Evil Inside
10. Burn City Burn
It’s always a slightly odd experience listening to a new release from a band your only knowledge of is several albums out of date. Back in 2004, 12 year old me was a big fan of Breed 77‘s sophomore full length LP Cultura and so I came into The Evil Inside, the Gibraltan rockers’ newest release, with an outdated and poorly recollected point of reference. The results were a little disappointing, the magic I evidently once felt has been all but lost, but this album is not without its strengths and is simple enough that I don’t feel my detachment from their material is all that much of a hindrance. Breed 77 have always been a pretty simplistic entity musically and in the last 9 years have not significantly veered from their patented “nu-metal with occasional moaning noises and flamenco guitar” sound.
As seems to be so characteristic of rock/metal of this variety, Breed 77 rely incredibly heavily upon vocalist Paul Isola to differentiate themselves from the crowd and the characteristic elements of his heavily-accented vocal style have changed little over time. Though the persistence of the slightly odd whining noises, as evidenced on track “Fear”, is of no great benefit to their sound, Isola is certainly still capable of pounding out a powerful chorus and singing with a degree of conviction as demonstrated well on the album’s title track. His ability to instil apparent emotional weight into tracks is often reminiscent of David Draiman’s performances on Disturbed records and is vital for making the album, at times lacking in depth and clout, more engaging. Clear album high point “Looking for Myself” achieves this accolade almost entirely on the back of a strongly Eddie Vedder-esque vocal performance lending the track the quality of a solid rock ballad and effectively compensating for the less developed elements of the band’s sound.
Instrumentally, the basics of their style is a pretty archetypal example of what you might expect from the genre: distortion-heavy drop tuned riffing making way for more groove heavy choruses and bridges, overlayed with a proficient if somewhat muted rhythm section. The small elements of the band’s sound which differentiated Breed 77 from their competitors in the past are still there with “Low” being a solid example of a track making use of flamenco guitars throughout and benefits greatly as a result. Unfortunately, this part of their songwriting seems less pronounced than it was on their previous releases and, though I can certainly understand a desire to not allow themselves to become too gimmicky, I can’t help but feel that if they’d found inventive ways to develop and weave that element of their sound into each track it would have done wonders for the album as a whole. A significant drawback of the instrumentation worth noting is the album’s relatively weak production and at times it seems they are a little bit too aware of how central the vocals are to making each song on The Evil Inside at all compelling.
The major contention I have with The Evil Inside is simply that it attempts to do so little above and beyond the cookie cutter song structure and styles so established in this genre. Every song feels like it progresses in a similar manner, most have predictable and unremarkably executed guitar solos, and banks heavily upon a catchy chorus or central riff to drag the listener through until they can get to the next track and start it all again. That’s not to say there are not good songs on the album and, when it works, Breed 77 are capable of producing solid and fun rock numbers, it’s just unfortunate the album as a whole feels so lacking in depth. Not every album needs to push boundaries but it’s a much more endearing approach to songwriting if your sound is at least unique among its peers and if anything the band seem to be moving further away from this being the case.
Reviewing The Evil Inside was an interesting experience for me and, much though I don’t quite see in Breed 77 what teenage me apparently did, it may be unfair for me to fault the band too much for having found a sound and sticking with it. Though the little characteristic elements which define the band from their contemporaries are few and far between; they occur just about frequently enough for the flamenco guitar and accent heavy vocals to make it clear that this is a Breed 77 record and that’s probably enough to justify its existence. This album isn’t big or clever and isn’t going to change anyone’s life but if you’re in the market for a direct and upfront hard rock album supported by a solid and flexible vocal performance you could do a lot worse.