Rockin’ Engine – Altered by Evil (Self-Released)

Monday, 3rd July 2023
Rating: 8 / 10

The fascination with serial killers documentaries and horror movies lives through the musicians here in Ottawa’s Rockin’ Engine. Together since 2018, they’ve developed releases at a quick pace – Midnight Road Rage as a first album in 2019, and a follow-up EP The Wretched and the Damned in the fall of 2020. Combining fantasy with historical elements, the latest EP Altered by Evil explores the realm of movies like The Exorcist, Army of Darkness, and The Shining as well as real psychopaths such as Richard Ramirez and Ted Bundy, while musically combining elements of thrash and modern, groove-laden heaviness.

Instantly the rhythmic elements become a focal point of the band’s modus operandi – although they properly inject the right melodic textures be it specific catchy hooks or a hummable chorus so that listeners can retain these individual tracks easier. Upon initial playback, “Monsters Under Your Bed” possesses immediate attention qualities: the tempos, riffs, and commercial-driven chorus combining the best of Lamb of God, Gojira, and 90’s-era Metallica. Soundbites add that extra level of chill factor, making the White Zombie-like measures during “Carnival of Evil” snappy against the staccato-driven riffs or militant verse delivery, the musical components swirling into this explosive payoff as lead guitarist Ste Vy Leff showcases a mix of his circular tricks. Closer “Room 185” has a stalker-ish atmosphere throughout the musical components, certain riffs being a bit more from the early Coal Chamber days and others fusing together aspects of Forbidden, Slayer, and Crowbar believe it or not. Rhythm guitarist Steve O Leff performs double duty as main vocalist, cutting through the airspace in a gritty yet easily ear pleasing manner – “Day of Wrath” a prime example of his emotional range to hit those key memorable notes especially to carry the chorus home.

The fusion of hard rock, thrash, and modern groove metal gives Rockin’ Engine potential to appeal to numerous audiences based on the material present with Altered by Evil. Standing on the precipice of glory, this quartet could be valuable to most label rosters based on the talent and quality songwriting delivered here.

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