Here's an unusual setup from Brazil. Evals Mess isn't one band but three, who share a name and a logo. The line-up is mostly the same across all three, but they play different genres. Evals Mess, in this form, which is also known as Evals Mess Project, play prog rock. However, they heavy up into a thrash/death metal band, Evals Mess Insane, and also lighten up into Evals Mess Acoustic. Two of the three members of Evals Mess Insane play in Evals Mess Project but, while Andrey Cardoso has the same bass guitar slung around his neck, Sandro Maués shifts from drums to handle vocals and acoustic guitar. Samuel Wesley takes over on drums and Guilherme Andrili adds a second guitar.
This is my introduction to Evals Mess, so I haven't hear Evals Mess Insane yet, though I'm intrigued after hearing this. It's their third album and it's a generous one, almost making the eighty minute mark, though it's broken up over tracks of very different lengths, two under four minutes and two over ten. It's a rare album indeed where not more than two songs of the eleven on offer share the same minute length, but this is one. I like that the band are confident in letting them simply be as long as they should be, rather than cropping them down for better chances at airplay or extending them out with unnecessary sections.
It's a neatly varied album too, ranging from the poppy commercial prog of Cloistered through to a heavy midsection on Martyrdom that's arguably metal, albeit one nowhere near thrash/death in approach. Most of it sits in between, of course, rock rather than pop or metal, and thoughtful in a lot of its dynamic play. Witch's Fury was my early standout because of that. It grows magnificently during its eight and a half minutes, thoughtful and careful becoming intense and vehement. It's a given that I'm not going be to doing anything to invoke this witch's fury any time soon, if I can help it.
Of course, I'm sure she's fictional because this appears to be a concept album based on a novel by Sandro Maués, though I may not be translating the Portuguese properly there. It doesn't surprise me to find that this is a concept album, because it evolves like one, a shifting in tone and style as a change in the story requires it. It also explains how Maués can get so much emotion into songs like Witch's Fury, because he's not merely invested in these songs as a songwriter or performer, he was the creator of the characters whose stories they tell. He's this witch's mother and father and god.
While Maués sings at least primarily in English, I couldn't follow the story from his voice so got as much of its progression from the song titles, the sound effects and the general flow. It sounds to me like it's a period tale of hardship and restraint that eventually finds rebirth and freedom. The anger is met with boundaries, so the lead character dreams of peace and freedom. A melancholy tone that pervades many of the earlier songs gradually shifts into a darker tone and eventually a happier one.
I think those tonal shifts affect what the music appears to be inspired by. Cloistered is prog infused by sixties pop, a dream of something else. Many of the slower sections or indeed entire songs, like Redemption, remind of Queensrÿche's slower moments, though ramping up is done in a different direction. The opener starts out with a western pirate vibe that segues into a very Mark Knopfler guitar, which returns on Martyrdom before it heavies up, when Queensrÿche come back to mind. I caught odd moments here and there of Styx, Iron Maiden and Pink Floyd, though only moments. I can't imagine that there aren't Brazilian bands in here that I wouldn't recognise either; there's a rich South American scene that I've only dipped my toes into thus far.
What impressed me most here was how lush it felt without also feeling dense. There aren't thirty layers going on at once, even when there's orchestration, but it always feels like we're surrounded by interesting things happening, with the core thrust of the album moving through them. I think that's the main reason why this never feels too long, even at eighty minutes, a length at which I'd feel safe in saying most albums would struggle. This always has something to say. Twice through is almost three hours and it didn't lose my attention once. In fact, some of the most magnetic songs arrive late, like Death in Doubt, with its menacing post-punk overtones and strange rhythms, not to forget its perhaps subconscious nod to Knockin' on Heaven's Door.
It has to be said also that everything leads up to the thirteen minute epic kinda sorta title track, a gem of a piece called Anturiah, Born of the Flower. At this point, you probably know whether you'll be checking this out or not, so I'll just say that, if you do, it's the centerpiece of the album. I think I prefer Witch's Fury, just on a personal level, but everything this album does, it does it most on the final track. And I guess that means that it's the one you should check out on YouTube if you're still undecided. Enjoy.