Evertale - The Great Brotherwar - (10/10)
Published on November 3, 2017
All hail the Crimson King!
This band astounds me. Back in 2013, German newcomers Evertale absolutely destroyed the competition with their epic opus Of Dragons & Elves. Everything about it was perfect: fabulous artwork, cracking production quality, and over 80 minutes of storming power metal with a progressive tinge that provides maturity. Considering this was a debut album from an unsigned band, it birthed my first ever perfect-score review of any release ever. Four years on, and the mind-blowing effect of that LP has remained unchanged – so what better time for the Europeans to land their second masterwork The Great Brotherwar? Previously, the band developed a concept album based on Laura & Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance novels, but now they set their sights on the futuristic world of Warhammer 40,000 – a lore begging to be covered by the metal community. And how does this starfaring theme fare musically? I’m pretty sure I can safely say that this might be the best metal album released in 2017. It’s that good. How the fuck do they do it?!
Predictably excellent album art notwithstanding, Evertale are nothing like the pompous flower metal of the Twilight Force ilk (as much as I love them). Simply put, this is what Blind Guardian would sound like if they had stuck with the grittier direction of their first two albums – but that’s not to disparage Evertale’s compositional talents; they really own a sound that is inherently theirs. Explosive, no bullshit power metal that never treats the audience like fools. Expect no predictable melody lines or ‘catchy’ hooks; this is the kind of mature songwriting that requires repeated listens to fully experience. The bombastic wall of sound will suck you in; the few memorable refrains will make you want to replay certain tracks; and the overarching storytelling characteristic will keep you coming back for more and more. The Great Brotherwar is the gift that keeps on giving.
I won’t resort to the phrase ‘all killer, no filler’ – because on this album, the filler is fantastic. I love the way interludes break up an album and contribute to its atmosphere, but too many acts dilute them unnecessarily. Here, “The Joining”, “Oceans Of Sand” and “March Of The Nord” all suit the mood of the story arc, and segué with flawless fluidity into their proceeding tracks. Not to mention, the narrative intro “Battle For Mankind” creates an enormous sense of tension with its superb voice acting which might as well be saying ‘prepare your face – Evertale are about to melt it’. This leaves us with eight tracks of furious power metal, all between five and eight minutes, to hammer us into submission. The impeccable production quality brings out the best in every instrument, whilst boxing them all together into one, tight, cohesive package of pure steel.
Despite the length, no track outstays its welcome due to the expansive structure of each song. It’s tempting to stamp the Germans with the oft-misused ‘progressive’ label, because of how songs unfurl melodically, rather than present themselves blatantly. The Great Brotherwar may be lacking in the individual variations – like the nine-minute epic “Tale Of The Everman” or the balladic “Of Dragons & Elves” from the debut – but every song is crafted with such gusto, such hunger, such vibrancy, it almost eclipses the need. Besides, there are surprising touches sprinkled here and there, such as the violin in “For The King And The Crown”, or the recurring motifs (any band who uses reiterated themes is guaranteed at least an 8/10 from me).
Choruses are a crucial characteristic of power metal, and Evertale absolutely perfect the art. The consistently layered voices, vocal patterns that flow over each other, and melodies which ooze triumph make every refrain utterly irresistible (I can’t stop singing ‘We are the grey, GREY, wardeeeeens!’). Mainman Matthias Graf is almost constantly multi-tracked, turning his already phenomenal pipes into a wall of pure power. The chorus to “The Journey To Iskendria” is particularly emotive and makes the most of its velocity; the singles “Empire Rising” and “We Are The Hammer” channel the catchiest material on the record whilst still making a glorious impact; the final chorus to the title-track is a truly theatrical climax (rivalling “The Final Page” in every way); and “For The King And The Crown” is a mighty anthem that is bound to go down a storm in a live setting.
Despite having just listed some highlights, it’s almost superfluous to do so because of the sheer consistent quality on offer here. I will say for absolute definite: “The Swarm” is one of the best power metal tracks ever written – right up there with “In The Sign Of The Valiant Warrior” – no further detail needed, you just have to hear this to believe it. Blazing solos, colossal choral sections, furious riffs…and a Van Canto cover! That was quite the lovely surprise! (More bands should cover the acapella group, seeing as they do enough covers.) Graf and co. make “Take To The Sky” sound as grandiose as it should. I’m practically breathless trying to compound my thoughts like an intelligent human being when such a masterpiece as The Great Brotherwar presents itself before me. Evertale simply have the winning formula with which all future releases will be constructed. They can officially do no wrong. I’m 100% confident in giving this a 10/10. Perfection. Album of the year. As I said when I reviewed Of Dragons & Elves almost four years ago: this is what makes the ability to hear truly great.
ALL HAIL THE CRIMSON KING!!