The first thing one notices about J. P. Ahonen and K. P. Alare’s graphic novel Sing No Evil is how blisteringly bright it is, in both appearance and tone. The mixture of skyscraper-boldness in the colours and wise-cracking humour in plot and characters almost feels like a visual representation of what a Rush/Pink Floyd/Black Sabbath supergroup would sound like.
Sing No Evil tells the story of rising avant-garde metal band Perkeros and its stammer-ridden front-man Aksel, who fancies himself as a Freddie Mercury/Brian May combo, although the other band members don’t quite see it. Desperate to make Perkeros a legendary band, Aksel must also contend with the toxic relationship he has with his economics-studying girlfriend. But Aksel and his friends soon discover their music can have a religiously apocalyptic effect, and must confront blood-thirsty demons, as well as face Aksel’s personal fears about leading a band.
Throughout the novel, it’s obvious just how music-centred writer Ahonen and artist Alare are, with numerous references to rock and metal bands from cover to cover, including their own failed attempts at forming bands. That love of music is the key force that makes this story so entertaining.
Sing No Evil is undoubtedly an engaging novel, but its plot plods along with no real sense of danger until it’s approaching the finalé – up to that point, the novel almost reads as a humorous Spinal Tap/Bad News homage. Sing No Evil still triumphs, however, in its humour and its visuals, and its depiction of the everyday goings-on of a struggling band is warm and engrossing.