CD Review: The Forces of Evil – Friend or Foe?

Like the formation of ska ‘super-group’ Streetlight Manifesto, The Forces Of Evil got together in 2001 in an attempt to liven up the dying ska scene in Orange County. Frontman Aaron Bennett (Reel Big Fish) teamed up with Chris Colonnier (Jeffries Fan Cluband The Specials), Derek Gibbs (Jeffries Fan Club), Justin Ferreira (Jeffries Fan Club), Jay (The Scholars), Jonny (Lone Raspberry) and Jon, and went on to produce an EP in 2002 titled Because We Care. This record is a full-length, with 5 remakes from the EP and 6 new songs. FOE is mostly a humorous ‘fun’ band, as seen in the lyrics and the way the members add ‘Evil’ to their names. Many of the tracks have a jokey Reel Big Fish feel to them, as Aaron Bennett (who is still with them) sings and writes the songs.

Angry Anthem, the first track, is a melodic blast of anger directed at just about no-one. With 43 F-words, the song is surprisingly catchy and actually good, when compared to other songs that try to be funny with the over-use of cuss words (*ahem* Hot Dog). This is an upbeat song, and the horns blare along nicely.

The next track, Go To Hell is a cover of a song originally done by Suburban Myth. FOE makes full use of its 4 piece horn section as heard in this song, reminding us of the strong ska roots the band has.

My Life is a song about independence and such, although it isn’t really serious, with funny lines like: I know you shouldn’t rhyme s*** with S***!/But this is my song I’m gonna sing it how I wanna sing it.

FOE pays tribute to Van Halen with their cover of the 80s song Dance The Night Away. The horns in this track make the piece much more skank-able, and I personally find it better than the original. This song is also a good example showing the different styles and tones Aaron can sing in.

In the first serious song on the album, Vague Love Song, Aaron sings about losing out on love, yet the horns manage to make this track lively and upbeat. Other songs like Mistake, Worst Day, and Independent make use of the horns to transform them into happier pieces.

The instrumental Hey! Woo! Yea! is (unlike most instrumentals) actually not a dull track at all. All 4 horn instruments and the guitar get their chances to show off and solo, while being accompanied by shouts of Hey! Woo! Yea!

Independent is a duet with Aaron and another female singer, in a sort of ‘call and response’ style, with the guy asking the girl out, but the girl saying she can’t as she’s independent. It’s a nice fun song, which is sort of similar to She Has A Girlfriend Now by Reel Big Fish.

The last track on the album, Fight, is a 100% skankable’ piece. They used this as the ‘theme song’ for the 2003 Ska Summit, and it’s obviously a very suitable song. Aaron sings about the old ska scene and how ska is being forgotten these days: How come nobody plays ska anymore?/I guess they all forgot what we were fightin’ for/They’re grown up now and they want to be respected/And be a part of the business we rejected/I liked things how they used to be/And now I’m doing what I can to save the scene!. The chorus is also extremely catchy: You gotta fight for your right to skank/You gotta fight for your right to skank/We can’t do it on our own, so pick up the telephone/And tell your friends they gotta fight to skank!. It’s a perfect track to end the album with.

Overall, this is a very solid album, with a strong ska sound and catchy lyrics. There’s nothing negative to really say about it, although the language may be unsuitable for minors.

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