Evil Beaver Album Review: ND2015
By: Keith Amerson
This six song EP is a perfect introduction to the frenzied, kinetic sound produced by avant-garde punk rock duo Evil Beaver (Evie Evil Beaver on bass and vocals/Slammin’ Sammy Kickass on drums). It consists of older songs with a reworking of Night Dreamer to kick things off (hence the title).
Musically, it feels wrong to pigeonhole this duo as simply punk rock. While their heart, sensibility and sound is most often punk, you can also hear the influence of metal and ‘90s’ alternative (which makes sense since the band has been together since 1999). They provide an odd amalgam of styles, nuance and miscellaneous musical ingredients that simply work.
Although the band is a bass and drums duo, guitars do appear on certain tracks. Evie Evil is a reliable and interesting bassist and vocalist. Her voice is often close in timbre and tone to Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland. Slammin’ Sammy is a rock-solid drummer adding tasteful, simple pounding throughout.
The bottom line is that Evil Beaver is a punk/metal hybrid without fear of adding a dollop of sweetness. In sound, songs like “Honey Pump” and “Night Dreamer” harken back to Dirty era Sonic Youth, while “Closer to Hell” and “Handz of Fate” wear their metal influence proudly on their sleeveless denim vests. That leaves ND2015 and “Serial Monagamisn’t” which both rest in the punk camp. This would be a perfect EP to put on repeat while reading Get in the Van by Henry Rollins or Girl in a Band by Kim Gordon.
We start with ND2015 and it takes us on a byzantine trip filled with tempo shifts that slow and stop violently, only to restart as our equilibrium tries to settle. This is followed by “Serial Monagamisn’t” which is a heavy, yet catchy two minute blast with a clever title and the lyric: “I, I will change for you if that’s what you wanted.” While not a groundbreaking sentiment, the aching honesty in which it is delivered hits in the gut. It also serves as a perfect summation/encapsulation of the common theme running through these tracks: “Love is pain and compromise, yet we still ache for it.”
This segues into “Honey Pump,” a song that would have charted in the early ‘90s. It has infectious backing harmonies and the best bass line on this outing. It also includes their best tempo-lurch as the song builds to its climax at a little over two minutes. Next comes “Closer to Hell” with verses that could have been on a Motorhead album coupled with a chorus that lightens things up a bit before heading back into metal.
Staying in a similar vein, “Handz of Fate” kicks out of your speaker like a head-on collision with an oak tree. This song would have been right at home with the early thrash of Megaforce-era Metallica and Overkill. It is driven by an evil-oozing, sicko distorted bass riff that is probably exactly the sound John Wayne Gacy heard every morning when he woke up.
For the finale, the band brings out the original version of the opening number. This version of “Night Dreamer” unfurls at a slower, more beautiful burn than the rest of this collection. It is a perfect closer and amply completes the circle on a high note.