Written By: Tim Bannock
Label: Strawhouse – Rating:
Some people think that hiring a female singer for a metal band is a fad; others don’t think that, but still treat it like it is. The bad news is that many bands get by on this schtick without any real other qualities of merit. The good news is that some bands just happen to have a female singer, and the “baggage” that the media associates with that (both good and bad) just doesn’t factor into the deal. Czech power metal band Evarest is of this latter type, so let’s jettison the “oh my gawd, it’s a chick singer in a metal band!” stuff right off the bat. Eva (see where there name comes from?) doesn’t do the operatic stuff like Nightwish, nor does she do the death growls of Arch Enemy: this is straight up, classical singing that is probably best related to The Gathering, or even Grace Slick on the harder rocking Jefferson Airplane tunes. Straightforward, but very powerful and good.
There’s a lot of elements that are good about Evarest. The pinch harmonics and whammy bar squeals on songs like “Searching for Lost Times” and the titular “Fear” are fantastic, and the music is really a mesh of Sonata Arctica mixed with classic Iron Maiden. There’s ripping solos everywhere, there’s keyboard-guitar interplay that would make Warmen/Children of Bodom fans happy (but certainly not outperform said bands), and quite frankly, it’s the little guitar fills that showcase this band’s fresh songwriting approach. The drummer and bassist put in workman-like performances, but that’s par for the course with power metal, and frankly, that means that they are solid and do their part; nothing amazing, but certainly nothing to be snobbish about.
But why, oh why 2 Guns, then? The first is the sound of babies crying on “Requiescat.” That’s a sample that was creepy enough opening Queensryche’s Promised Land album, but when you have a female singer? Ten times creepier.
The second is the ho-hum songwriting. Now, I mentioned that there’s some fresh songwriting in the fills, and the fact that you can place this band up there with Iron Maiden and Sonata Arctica in terms of sound says something. But the problem is that beyond the fills and the presence of lots of solos and interludes, you really are getting a pretty stereotypical power metal disc. It’ll sound like 75% of your collection, and you’ll probably toss it out of the rotation within a few weeks. If you don’t like female vocals, then this disc won’t even make into your rotation (but if that’s the case, you’re already doing yourself a disservice). Beyond the few joys I’ve mentioned, you’re getting everything that other power metal bands offer: clean production, perfectly in-time double bass (and lots of it), and verse-chorus-verse-chorus-interlude-verse-chorus-outro music that you’ve heard a dozen times before.
There’s another “but” in there, so pay attention: but for all that, I must stress the greatness of the fills and the sound of this band. With a producer that kicks them in the ass a little more, Evarest could churn out a disc of solo-crazy guitar and keyboard madness the likes of which has not before been seen. Their talent is there on Fear, and it’s not a huge leap for them to pull something amazing out for their next disc.
So check out some songs, and if you like it, pick up the disc and support the band. Keep them around long enough to make that second killer album, and you are sure to be rewarded. If they die off now and fade away though…will they be missed? Ever the optimist, I say, “take a chance on them and the next disc will show you what they can do.”