Having already had monster radio hits with “100 In A 55,” “Hero,” “Last Man Standing,” “Monster You Made Me” and “Boss’s Daughter” and after the hugely successful Onyx album in 2013, which produced 3 #1 singles with “Torn To Pieces,” “Deal With The Devil” and “Trenches,” expectations surrounding Pop Evil’s new album Up were extremely high. You can all rest easy knowing that Up lives Up to all those expectations and then some. Up continues the band’s long standing relationship with label eOne Music and is the band’s fourth studio album and fifth if you count their 2004 independent release War of the Roses since forming in Michigan in 2001. It was produced by Adam Kasper at studio Litho & London Bridge studios, was mixed by Jay Ruston, mastered by Paul Logus and features cover art by Chis Lovell. To help keep things fresh and to continue the band’s evolution of sound, there are subtle hints of other bands they have toured with over the years throughout Up’s glorious nearly 50 minute running time. From tracks like lead single and video for “Footsteps” and “Take It All” that draw inspiration from Finger Eleven musically or “Core” that takes it’s musical cues from Rage Against The Machine and is driven by Leigh Kakaty’s powerhouse vocals, to the Al Jorgensen tinged vocal delivery in the verses of “In Disarray,” there is something for even the most discerning listener to enjoy on Up. There are even some musical elements that will no doubt catch their diehard fans off guard. Like “Ghost of Muskegon” which mashes the industrial percussion of Nine Inch Nail with the melodic sensibilities of Darkhaus and “Ways to Get High” that mixes Beck with Shinedown, but somehow makes it work beautifully. Meanwhile, the riffs in “Vendetta,” which is one of the album’s true highlights goes to show that you can’t share the stage with some of the biggest names in Hard Rock & Metal and not have it rub off on you a little, while the massive melodic hooks of “If Only for Now” wind up being not just some of the best on the album, but some of the best in the band’s 15 year history. Elsewhere, “Seattle Rain” is an amazing power ballad that evokes the spirt of 3 Doors Down that is destined to be a huge radio hit and speaking of hooks, “Dead in the Water” and “Till Kingdom Come” have razor sharp hooks big enough to catch a killer whale. The latter of which closes the album as strongly as it began. Here’s the bottom line. Up is a stunning musical proposition that will lift your spirts Up and take your soul on a journey into musical nirvana. Rating: 8 out of 10. -Eric Hunker