Evil Nine's 2nd artist album effort They Live! is direct effort to ride the "zombie" theme to the max, as it features a plethora of undead cover art, dark death-marching beats, and even samples quoting various zombie film classics. Some may find this entertaining, but frankly, I was bored.
Evil Nine's debut CD
Of course, on their 2004 debut, You Can Be Special Too, the general sound was good, but it lacked anything unique or "special," to quote the title track. They Live! finds Evil Nine developing their identity more and discovering a certain style of 80s-style electro, scary sound effects and some technologically-tweaked vocals.
On the opener, I felt brains being devoured on "Feed on You," with eerie synths accompanying a marching beat. Its sci-fi beginning is overshadowed with minor (darker) sounding chords, giving the listener the mental picture of undead bodies emerging out of a cemetery, as if from the opening of a zombie movie. Thus, the mood of this bizarre album begins.
A "cinematic" Evil Nine album
As a whole, the album is cinematic, and sometimes references not only the horror/zombie genre but even specific films. The title track features simplistic synthesizer arrangements put over an 80's type robotic-voice, announcing hypnotic statements over and over again. Then the short & creepy "Ngempa Guzom" and "How Do We Stop the Normals?" takes the 8-bit keyboard sound and shoves it into a housey track that'll make you "stomp" your feet a bit. On "Dead Man Coming," the duo starts sampling their favorite horror films as a backbone to a dancehall rap. Some of the music from the sampled low-budget horror films works decently as electro. Then, El-P drops by for the bass-heavy "All the Cash," and it becomes a powerful moment with a solid rap.
What is less successful is the strange keyboard arrangement on "Born Again" or the overly poppy "The Wait," whose male vocals are irritating. For most of They Live!, Evil Nine stick to their guns and promote their love of the darker side. What makes it unique is that horror themes are usually assigned death metal, so it's somewhat refreshing to see artists from another genre tackle it..
Summary of Evil Nine's 'They Live!'
Overall, I tried to get into the darker mood of this silly selection, but I found myself wanting to hear more sincere synthesized sound, not dramatic orchestral hits that clang and shimmer without substance or justification. This kind of "playing" on instruments seems too sophomoric, perhaps appropriate for a "second" album.
Released October 2008 on Marine Parade Records.