Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Eumeria - Rebel Mind (2011)

Formed in 2009, Eumeria are making a brand of music that is both aggressive and melodic. With members from both sides of the Atlantic, this progressive metal outfit has an international flavor that may have been lacking from your life. With dazzling keyboards provided by band mastermind Bobby Williamson, there is no shortage of intricate melodies and fluttering harmonies. On their debut album, "Rebel Mind," this five headed monster looks to set the world ablaze.

The barrage of drums that assaults you on "Legion" is a rush. The tempo is lightning fast, but not overbearing. Guitars come in lockstep with percussion, with a eerie synthesizer melody providing the mood. As frontman Jonny Tatum enters, the puzzle is complete. His soaring vocals are simply brilliant, showing a command of both pitch and range. The occasional screech of harmonics is a cue to swing your hair upwards. The breakdown is exceptional, led by a bass rumble and a wailing guitar solo. Not to be outdone, Williamson takes over with a blazing keyboard solo of his own, bolstered by the machine gun drums of Kevin Bartlett. No rest, no reprieve until the final notes. Even as "Delusions" begins, the battery is non-stop. Whether the tempo is fast or slow, each member is in sync with the others. The rhythm section keeps the tempo, throwing in a liberal amount of flare. Guitars are devastating, in the form of thrashing chords or fretwork, and the keyboards are, in a word, insane. Finding a weak link here is damn near impossible. A ripping solo section takes the track to new levels of greatest, completed by the rousing vocal melodies that will surely creep into your frontal lobe.

The title track to the album may as well be renamed "a drum clinic." Bartlett is in rare form, and it must be heard to be believed. Double kicks are a constant, but not in the cliche metalcore way. His fills are outstanding, and one roll could leave you with a case of whiplash. But not lost on your ears is the melodic sensibility that Eumeria possess. Even at their heaviest moments, they never lose sight of the need for structure. Tatum's vocals sit atop a mountain of immense riffs and bass lines. He commands the army, an infantry of synthesizers and blast beats. This is everything progressive metal can and should be. The track would be perfect, even without the solo portion and subsequent down tempo bridge. Adding them in, with a dash of piano keys, is the proverbial icing on the cake. There is a more straightforward approach on "Father," a song that boasts emotional lyrical content in spades. But unlike songs of this nature you may have heard before, the music isn't dumbed down to ballad standards, but rather it is tailored to fit the scope of the song. You'll still find all of the intricate guitar work and raucous drumming, but mixed to perfection. Williamson is at his best here, with a solo that is both riveting and well placed. There is no shortage of heavy guitars, nor will you be left searching for kicks.

The track "Tides" is one that shows off the ability to provide contrast in the music itself. A darting guitar riff opens, joined by the punch of kicks and snares. But just as quickly, the music quiets, and the vocals enter, soothing and subdued. Even when the riffs get substantially heavier, Tatum's voice keeps the softer, melodic edge. Keyboards come and go, moving in and out of the foreground. Finally, an eruption of high octane musicianship bursts forth. Drums, keys, guitar and bass top the 100 mph mark, melting many a face in the process. The skill required to execute contrasting styles and tempos would be enough to crush a lesser band. Moving through track after track with relative ease, Eumeria only grow stronger as the album progresses. Tatum's voice his new octaves on "The Key," putting countless power metal singers to shame. The bass line that occupies the latter half of the song is smooth as silk, giving things a velvety feel. On "Red Light Flies," the first truly somber moments emerge, with a two minute interlude showing a softer side. Acoustic guitar tones and synthesizers accompany Tatum's voice, as he wears his heart on his sleeve once more.

Back to life we come, and "Dreaming Of Death" is the perfect vessel to get us there. The guitars shred the scales, alternating between picking and distorted chords. The drumming is truly smashing, hitting you upside the head with fill after fill. The mere thought of a drum track getting tangled into a ball with guitars and keyboards may turn your head to mush, but I assure you, that is precisely the case here. Each separate instrument fulfills the characteristics of a "lead," with each one adding their own spin on the melody itself. The closing track, "Secret Places," can be viewed in one of two ways. On one hand, it is the end of a journey, the climax of a building story. On the other hand, it is the beginning of a new endeavor, a way to transition from this album to the next. By now, you know what to expect musically, though the idea of it becoming stale is impossible. Each note, whether it be musically or vocally, is delivered with mechanical precision. Perfect pitch, perfect placement and perfect timing. A piano breakdown takes the tempo down, and the band cruise to the finish, with Tatum leaving one lasting impression with you as he exits.

Without question, there is certainly an "it" factor that bands must have if they are going to turn their art into a career. For Eumeria, they possess exactly what fans and critics alike are looking for. Well crafted songs, deftly played instruments, and the skills of a powerful vocalist are only the beginning. "Rebel Mind" has so much more, just below the surface. It may take more than one listen, but patience will lead to a treasure chest of progressive metal riches. Don't let this one pass you by.


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