E-Force

Evil Forces

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With a name that sounds like a third-string rapper from the late '80s, and an album cover seemingly heavily influenced by Emerson, Lake and Palmer's Brain Salad Surgery and the covers of hundreds of cheap mass-market sword and sorcery paperbacks, E-Force's debut album doesn't look like it promises much. Underneath that underwhelming exterior, however, Evil Forces is actually one of the best death metal albums of its time. Led by singer and bassist Eric Forrest, who had led cult favorites Voivod during their latter days in the '90s, the Montreal-based trio avoids many of the traps of their death metal brethren -- Forrest actually sings most of the time, largely avoiding the clichéd death-Muppet growl, and the band shifts effortlessly from tight Motöhead-style speed riffing to more open, atmospheric passages and back -- while creating music that's genuinely interesting and exciting to listen to, such as the surprisingly catchy "Satanic Rituals," and the extended instrumental passages in the centerpiece, "Forest of the Impaled." It's still strictly for death metal fans, of course, but Evil Forces isn't bad at all.

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