Hell In A Box by President Evil
Release date : January 2008
Reviewed by Eric Stephens
Bremen, Germany's President Evil was formed on 13th December 2002, composed of members who belonged to different projects within Bremen's music scene. Self-produced, the 2003 four track demo The Electromagnetic Superstorm was sent to various online magazines in the hope of generating positive media. Initial gigs were played, and the outfit participated in the competition Live In Bremen against more than three hundred other competitors in the final. President Evil duly one, and did so before more than one thousand people within a Bremen slaughterhouse. Following this, a local gig supporting Smoke Blow in October materialized. In 2004's spring, the group confined themselves to Stage One Studio under the direction of producer and erstwhile Holy Moses guitarist Andy Classen (boasting production credits for the likes of Dew-Scented, Belphegor, Tankard, Krisiun and Die Apokalyptischen Reiter amongst others). Thirteen tracks were laid down, and local gigs with the likes of Mnemic, Ektomorf and Fireball Ministry followed. On 18th December, the group performed at the Fuck Christmas festival in Hamburg, Germany. A four track EP entitled Evil Goes to Hollywood was issued that same year, and sold out.
Throughout October and November 2005, President Evil, Disbelief, By Night and Betzefer supported Ektomorf on the Monster Mosh Down European tour. In November 2005, it was announced that the group had inked a record contract with AFM Records. Trash'n Roll Asshole Show arrived in April 2006, and was plugged via a supporting slot under Ministry during late July and August. In October, bassist Typhoon Tilsener left as the result of musical differences and was replaced by Mr. Godspeed Topf. Late March through to mid April 2007 saw a German supporting tour slot, under headliners GWAR. During early July, the outfit performed at the Rock Harz open-air festival in Osterode-Dorste, Lower Saxony, Germany, and by August 17th, President Evil performed at the Summer Breeze festival in Dinkelsbühl.
Cut at Bluebox Studios In Troisdorf during September 2007 with producer Guido Lucas (Blackmail, Smoke Blow), sophomore album Hell In A Box was mastered by Andy Classen at Stage One. Directed by Steven Schulze, a video to accompany the title track was completed in October. The group's moniker indeed happens to President Evil, though is this specific outfit as callously evil as their chosen title would suggest? When you catch wind of the fact that Hell In A Box forms the name of the group's 2008 full length, this nurtures curiosity further. Until the lyrics which accompany the inaugural composition are mouthed, such curiosity isn't alleviated. Raw Punk / Metal which closely approaches Hardcore comprises the group's adopted stylings, one in which the group channels their very message. The production values, meanwhile, opt in favour of a live ambience. Casting a glance upon songs christened with titles such as “Jesus Factor Negative”, “White Fire” and “One Brain Army”, it doesn't prove altogether difficult to sharply arrive at a critical judgment. Brief, unsophisticated affairs which adhere to Punk's usual musical structure, Hell In A Box pulls none of its punches. From the track's inaugural notes to its concluding moments, an angry, upbeat posture defines “Viva La Muerte”, and the same applies to the album's remaining compositions. A coarse, leathery feel underlines vocalist Johnny Holze's chords, and that lends the songs a distinct attitude. It may be an attractive premise to blindly assume that President Evil are a politically themed act, though careful listening intimates that the group employ a significantly darker message. “Bring Out Your Dead” seems to verify this opinion, as does the track “Godforsaken”.
President Evil comprises angst-ridden Metal laced with satanic elements, more or less. Whilst Hell In A Box will earn the affections of some admirers, others will be frankly critical. Punk tones dominate much of the material, making it greatly difficult to hear any notion of doom. The album's lyrical content may iterate evil, though when compared to those penned by groups like Slayer and God Forbid, the words fall on deaf ears. Mainly as the result of Punk ingredients, it is personally difficult to warm towards Hell In A Box. Numerous acts claim to possess evil traits, though relatively few live up to such statements. In this reviewer's opinion, President Evil fail to defy this trend.