‘Greater Than’, the sophomore full-length from Birmingham’s SHVPES, is certainly an energetic album – that can’t be denied – but, ‘creative’ is not an adjective that can be used, despite the abundance of shoehorned screams and rap verses.
This album introduces itself as a metalhead’s metal album, with huge chugging guitars and a voice that is no doubt strong but doesn’t really know what to do with itself. However, about three songs in, it decides to be a hip-hop album, and while there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying new things and changing up the tone of the album for a song or two (‘Pour Me’ by Hollywood Undead is a great example of this being done well), ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights’ completely kills the vibe.
‘Greater Than’ bears a resemblance to other metal bands incorporating rap into their sound, with Stray From The Path instantly coming to mind; the difference being the latter doesn’t sound as forced and doesn’t disrupt the energy of the performance. The vocals feel just a bit more shallow coming from SHVPES, who give the impression that they’re being edgy just for the sake of being edgy (“Your mother should have swallowed you” from closing track ‘Counterfeit’ are quite possibly the single most try-hard lyrics found in any song ever).
It’s a little disappointing when the realisation hit that after hearing a couple of songs, you’ve basically heard the entire album, the unwelcome intermission notwithstanding (the album would be better off without the entire one minute and forty-five seconds of ‘Two Wrongs, No Rights’, which seems like the product of vanity rather than an artistic decision to actually add something of value to the album).
While a few tracks from ‘Greater Than’ would most definitely be welcome on the soundtrack of a mid-00s WWE or Tony Hawk Pro Skater video game, it just doesn’t offer anything interesting or new, and isn’t an album that could be enjoyed on its own.