The Forces of Evil - Friend or Foe? (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Forces of Evil

Friend or Foe? (2003)


It just came to me. The Forces of Evil are fucking genius in their intentions.

They are trying to appeal to a younger crowd using a pretty eye-rolling gimmick that has the band's surname simply "Evil," overly simplistic, purposely immature, pointlessly vulgar lyrics, and cartoon-drawn animals being depicted on the liner notes in violent fashion (done by the Rock and Roll Villain) that asks "Just how much crack were you smoking?" But why, oh why, are these ex-members of Jeffries Fan Club and vocalist Aaron Barrett from Reel Big Fish shooting for the same demographic already being cock-slapped by numerous pop-punk bands at the moment? Answer: this particular market is too young to remember the revived period last decade when RBF themselves garnered fame with "Sell Out," and other bands like Less than Jake and Save Ferris flourished in the mainstream. So why not make an attempt at starting yet another wave?

Well, maybe because the formula is a little too ridiculous in some scenarios. They cover Van Halen's "Dance the Night Away" for chrissake, not to mention Suburban Rhythm's "Go to Hell" with enough bells and whistles to sedate even the most sagacious of cover-song disparagers. As is with RBF, we also, of course, have to have the "song with the cheesy girl vocals song," here it being "Independent."

Hell, the band themselves realize the silliness of this whole side project, with self-mocking lyrics like the part in "My Life" when Aaron sings, "I know you shouldn't rhyme shit with shit, but this is my song I'm gonna sing it how I want to sing it," though the song includes some nice-yet-underused rising vocal harmony overlapping. Some chorus excerpts read as follows:

This is the worst day of my life ("Worst Day")
I think we made a mistake but it's all right, I didn't like you that much anyway ("Mistake")
Maybe it's all right and I'm the one that's wrong, maybe if I die this sadness will be gone ("Maybe I'm Wrong")
She's independent, trys not to let it show, independent I hate that stupid ho ("Independent")

The music is competent itself, but blatantly derivative of the most poppy, straightforward RBF moments. Think Why Do They Rock So Hard? without any of the rap and reggae that occasionally surfaced, but then melded together with the mostly-mid tempo pace of Cheer Up!.

On the plus side, the musicianship itself is tight, and the horns are not only used plenty more than the fair share of proposed ska major-label releases we've seen lately, but are actually audible in the mixing levels.

"Fight" takes a swipe on the what's currently labeled the "emo" scene, asking "Whatever happened to the bands that make you dance and laugh so hard you nearly wet your pants? They want to be emotional and that's so boring, take out the fun and we're left snoring." At least the Orange County crew is definitely making an attempt to infiltrate the mainstream back with its horns cocked and ready to fire, regardless of the way this attack is planned.

Whether or not this will hit with the right promotion and single is the big question that hovers in the air.