The Naked High’s Tap Into The Evil is the kind of rock record that encapsulates a wide variety of moods. It works if you’re amped up for a night of drunken debauchery, if you’re too high to get off the couch or if you’re just so angry you need to scream your lungs out. Some nights contain all the above and it’s on those nights that you may find yourself reaching for Tap Into The Evil. Though there are times when the band doesn’t get the balance quite right, I’m sure this will still attract metalheads, hard rockers and stoners alike.
Regardless of how heavy your tastes are, Hugo L-C’s riffs are undeniable. They are the kind that if you’re blazed out of your mind, will have you locked to the back of your seat with no escape until the album is over. Even more impressive is his effortless ability to switch his style within the confines of a song. He is just as capable of bludgeoning you over the head with a doom riff as he is melting your face off with pentatonic solos littered with pinch harmonics that would make Zakk Wylde proud.
This hodgepodge of styles is kind of the band’s thing. They are not quite doom metal, heavy metal or hard rock but a refreshing hob-gob of all three. “Rebirth” is probably the finest example of what The Naked High is going for. Singer Simon Ouellet oozes tough-guy swagger as L-C, bassist Phil Rod, and drummer Charlie Cayouette dig into a 70’s Sabbath-like riff before going full thrash on the chorus. Though most of the tracks here will pummel you across the face, the epic “Pull Off The Void” slows down significantly and hints at a grungier side to the band as well. Think Sleep meets Alice in Chains, which probably shouldn’t work but for the most part does.
If there is one thing that sometimes grates on my ears it’s Ouellet’s delivery. Don’t get me wrong, the guy is a mega-talented vocalist, but he doesn’t fit with The Naked High’s gloomier side. He has this Axl Rose screech that is FANTASTIC on the harder-rocking material, but is lacking in subtlety when L-C and Rod dig into a down-tuned chug like they do halfway through “Moon Turns Red.” He sounds hornier than possessed by evil. Add in some over the top backing vocals and you have yourself one clunky interlude.
That said, when the band is locked in, implementing their influences effectively and utilizing Ouellet’s hard rock prowess, they have the power to be hypnotic and rabble-rousing. I, for one, would pay to go see them live as I’m sure their sound is best felt in an environment where you can feel the bass in your feet. The Naked High may have a little while to go before they truly “tap into evil,” but if you let them, they may just tap into you.
Written by Shawn Thicke
*Edited by Dominic Abate