(hed) p.e. – Forever! (Album Review)

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One thing is clear, (hed) p.e. has never pigeonholed themselves to one genre of Rock since their inception over two decades ago. Releasing a total of nine studio albums since 1994, they have amassed an incredible underground following as they blend Rock, Metal, Rap, and many others styles. Staying true to who they are, the band has been able to experiment with different ideas, and have defined their specific style while the songwriting has incorporated everything from conspiracy theories, to sex, to everything in between. Led by founder Jared Gomes (vocals), while the band has seen several line-up changes, as well as label changes, they continue to craft music that is immediately recognized as (hed) p.e. Currently made up of Gomes, Major Trauma (drums), Gregzilla (guitar), and Kid Bass (bass guitar), the unstoppable force returns in 2016 with their tenth overall studio album, Forever! Set for release on July 22nd, it marks their second with Pavement Records and promises to be yet another unapologetic journey into the world of (hed) p.e.

Beginning the album with an eerie fade of high-pitched guitar and military style drumming is “Live.” Continuing the sinister feel, Gomes cuts in with periodic growling and Rap style lyrics before female vocals chime in, creating a Horror movie-esque harmony. With a Hard Rock introduction, “Pay Me” comes in next as Gomes offers more harsh vocals that trade off with graveled tones. The melody and lyrics combine to create a story about struggling under the weight of societal norms before ending the track with a seminar style clip. Keeping the Rock vibrations coming, a solo guitar echoes sharply through the intro of “Closer” before dueling vocals create a conversation style verse and a chorus of voices comes together, giving the impression of unity. Then, changing it up slightly, “Hurt” brings on a hint of Southern Rock before quickly morphing into a fast-paced Metal style piece with warped voices and growling for a confusing, but wicked sensation.

Relying more on Metal, meaty guitars and heavy drums start off “It’s You” prior to Reggae tinged singing once again combine with screams to create a very dynamic sound. Thereafter is the headbanging “Waste,” dressed with wild drums and guitars as monotone screaming add to the frenzy before abruptly ending with an organ beginning to play, almost as if the song was an interruption of something else. Leaving the listener on edge, “Jahknow” mixes squealing guitars and Reggae styled vocals. Interestingly, the accent is combined with growling for an added facet of passion on this track. “One Of A Kind” opens with a quiet synth, and easy drumlines. A return of the Reggae vocals, along with a music box tinging away, it creates a lazy vibe before jolting to a more Rock-n-Roll sound. Interestingly, rather than settle on one or the other, Gomes and company drift back and forth between the two styles, creating an uneasy, yet inviting atmosphere. Even more compelling, a resonating wood flute brings on “The Higher Crown” before quickly layering on chanting and wildlife sounds. Almost as if (hed) p.e. decided their fans would benefit from a meditation interlude, this song provides a break in the fray.

Diving back into the Reggae tones, “Shadowridge” comes on with harmonica as well as lyrics that tells a story about love and having found somebody worth it all. Inviting another instrument to the party, “Together” features an accordion which continues the relaxed pace, with harmonized vocals in the chorus, and a saxophone dancing around the perimeter of the music. With an island vibe, “Always” is equally as colorful with keyboards, saxophone, and heavy Reggae textures as Gomes’ words criticizes overbearing religious views. This is prior to “Ganja” summing up Forever! with a bouncy beat, soft vocal melodies, and lyrics speaking of marijuana. Carrying on the relaxed feel, more saxophones create warmth, making it an overall chill cut to relax to.

With Forever!, (hed) p.e. continue the tradition of musically non-conforming. Fans can expect the same quality from this album as the band’s previous releases, but should know it is not simply more of the same. Impossible to describe each and every detail laid within the fabric of Forever!, listeners will find themselves on their own through this delightful treasure hunt. CrypticRock gives this album 5 out of 5 stars.

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