There was a lot of excitement generated when Bobby Williamson and Shawn Kascak announced the formation of Eumeria, rising from the ashes of Texan prog metallers Outworld. There was even more excitement when they said they'd tapped 3 promising UK musicians to help out. As a result, when the date for début album Rebel Mind was set, hopes had reached fever pitch. Praised has flooded in, and rightly so, as Eumeria have created one of the strongest modern progressive metal albums of the past few years.
From the opening drum blasts of “Legion” to the final resounding chorus of “Secret Places”, it is clear that each bandmate clicks with the others very well. This is also facilitated by a pristine production job; evidently the distance across the pond has tightened the Eumeria sound. Bartlett is a wonder on the drumkit, throwing many syncopated patterns and rhythms like on power ballad “Father”, which enhance the music rather than distract from it. Miraculously, Kascak's bass is more than audible, even playing a Rush-like melodic role in the title track and interweaving with Fullwood's 7-string groovy riffing and melodic soloing, which Williamson ties everything off with atmospheric synths and keyboard solos that easily match the guitars'.
Despite quite a unique sound, there are a several influences that jump out at me; of course Dream Theater, Fates Warning and Symphony X get a mention, but also newer bands like Lost In Thought and Circus Maximus, the latter especially in the vocal performance. Jonny Tatum is one of my favorite vocal discoveries this year; he gives a powerful performance throughout the album, going from a pleasant Michael Eriksen-esque mid-range to slightly harsher notes like on “The Key”, but also knows when to bow out and let the instruments do the talking. His lyrical ability is also impressive, crafting lines that suit his voice such as “Will you embrace the promise of spring/So I can never see/You cannot relive those forgotten years/So join me now my father”*, along with the pre-chorus of “Rebel Mind”.
One of the admirable qualities of this release is its longevity; after a number of spins it is still very enjoyable, and even weaker tracks like “The Key” and “Dreaming Of Death” begin to melt in with the standout tracks. “Secret Places”, a reworking of a previous Williamson track called “Heirs Of Peril”, indulges in a more power metal ethos, and feels a little out of place, but is still a strong song with a catchy chorus. The 7-minute title track also takes a while to sink in, but when it does the excellence really does shine through.
From the heavier grooving lines of “Delusions” to the ethereal acoustic interlude “Red Light Flies”, Eumeria manage to pack in many different ideas and package it off as authentic and fresh. Rebel Mind is not an album to spin every day, but I can see myself returning to it often, especially for the vocals. Needless to say, my appetite has been whetted and I am very interested to see where this band are going in the future.
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Angel's rating: 4.25/5
*Transcribed from hearing