Few recent bands have made a bigger splash than Evership in the world of modern progressive rock. Their solid and impressive self titled album was one of the best modern debuts we’ve heard here at Proglodytes. It wouldn’t be completely fair to say that Evership came out of nowhere, because all of the participants involved had been in the music scene in Nashville for many years in some form or fashion. But, after their debut album, they were discovered by numerous folks in the modern prog scene, and the strength of that record catapulted them to the forefront of the prog world- leading to mainstage performances at RoSFest and ProgStock, and numerous glowing reviews from the major prog outlets.
Following the acclaim of this debut, the pressure was on to create an album that both moved the band forward, but retained the strength of the initial album. I don’t normally compare albums in reviews, because I think each work should be able to stand on its own, but as this is called Evership II, and even features some musical continuations from the debut, it seems like a fair approach.
I felt like Evership’s first album’s biggest strength was that it pulled influences from the past (with very Kansas and Queen-like soundscapes), but brought them into a modern light, incorporating elements from modern rock and pop. Evership II is a continuation of these elements, but if I had to pinpoint the more apparent influences, I hear more elements of Yes, Rush, and even, dare I say, grunge on this latest record.
The musical and lyrical themes still maintain the same epic quality that was present on Evership, but there is an edge and a darker atmosphere that wasn’t as present on the debut. This is definitely the case for the brooding opener, “The Serious Room”. which, compared to the lively opener on their last album “Silver Light” is somber and moody. Beau West’s voice, as always, is powerful and expressive, and I particularly love the orchestral swells that compliment the solos as the song finishes out.
“Monomyth” is a more driving number, with clever lyrics and melody lines over epic chords. There is a very Yes-like midsection that drifts off into the clouds, complete with strings and even a Howe-esque slide guitar, before the song returns to the original melody and ends with the same intensity that it started with. “Real or Imagined” is a longer form musical journey, with 3 distinct sections- an ephemeral acoustic intro, a midsection reminiscent of Rush, and a final section with big, strong melodies and a refrain that will be stuck in your head for weeks.
“Wanderer” is the introspective path that winds and curves to prepare you for the massive album closer, “Isle of the Broken Tree”, which is a continuation of the track “Ultima Thule” from the previous album. Clocking in at 28 minutes and 37 seconds, it is a magnum opus. It covers so much musical ground- following a “Dust in the Wind”-esque intro, it goes from rock to blues to prog, somehow managing to keep your attention with hooks and jams, without repeating itself.
Evership’s debut album was instant infatuation- it somehow felt both fresh and familiar at the same time. Evership II, however, has taken me a bit more to understand and process . Even though Evership´s lyrics had a lot of depth, the music seemed more epic and, although the lyrics could be personal, they were told in a way that was more symbolic. Evership II´s forays into melancholy and introspection are more prominent on this album, replacing the swashbuckling fun of Evership with more exposed emotional depth (though the album features a lot of kickass, melodic musical moments as well).
Evership II is one of those albums that just keeps revealing itself with every listen, and is a perfectly worthy follow up to the debut. Each time I listen to the album, a new chorus gets stuck in my head, or a new section stands out to me. The two albums together cover such a wide range of musical and emotional ground that they act very well as complimentary albums, much like a musical yin-yang. Evership is definitely a band to keep your eyes on, and I look forward to what Shane Atkinson and his merry band comes up with in the coming years.
Evership II was released on October 19, 2018 through Atkinsong Productions LLC. You can buy Evership II, as well as Evership’s self titled debut, here.