Ewigkeit - DISClose - (8.5/10)
Published on March 2, 2019
For incessant composers like James “Mr Fog” Fogarty, the balance of different projects can be key to stirring up creativity and ensuring maximum quality of output. After laying Ewigkeit to rest for a five-year period, Fogarty bounced back in 2013 with a new album Back to Beyond and a straighter head on his unusual shoulders. Arguably, a lot of the eclecticism that cluttered up pre-hiatus albums like Radio Ixtlan and Conspiritus has been weeded out by the resurrection of other projects, such as the progressive/avant-garde side to In the Woods…, the jokier project Jaldaboath, and the more traditional black metal of Old Forest, all of which have been releasing albums since Fogarty brought Ewigkeit back to life. That has provided a focus for the solo project that guides DISClose on a narrower path than ever before, allowing genre distinctions to blur together instead of colliding awkwardly, spreading out a unified style that suits the concept to a tee. In 2019, Ewigkeit has come of age at last.
The transformation perceived here cannot be represented as a sudden one, since two full-lengths of growing maturity preceded this one in advancing Fogarty’s visions of worldwide and extraterrestrial conspiracies onto a suitably broad platform. Nonetheless, the way that the music feels as opener “1947” peels the lid off the conceptual can of worms must be described in such terms as full, complete, and overwhelming. The regular presence of revelatory keyboards behind spacious guitar riffing and splendid flowing melodies applies the necessary sense of scale to the lengthy songs (the average is over six minutes), yet no instrument and no part of the album rushes, content layered over content to form a dense and accommodating whole. Put simply, Fogarty has gone for epic and pulled it off without any fuss. Speaking deliberately about genre and influences seems superfluous, since reference points pivot mainly around the composer’s other work, pulling in tropes of his black metal past with some scratchy harsh vocals and the effect of the keys, the feeling of openness and exploration suiting his experimental work, while minor elements of folk and electronic music share space with one another in the soaring clean vocals of “Guardians of the High Frontier” and the distorted voices that buzz out from “KRLLL” and “Disclosure”.
Given the jarring nature of some of Fogarty’s past bands (Meads of Asphodel and The Bombs of Enduring Freedom spring abruptly to mind), the exceptional feature of DISClose might be its smoothness. Particularly during the middle stretch of the album, where vocals are cleaner and the riffing less oppressive, as well as the general aura more stably controlled by the keys and phased guitars, the listener is enveloped by the songs’ spacious nuclei and left to drift as “Resonance” floats numbly through slow chords and towards a warm, clean chorus. That smoothness produces two contrasting effects in the listener: primarily, it switches off the part of their mind that necessarily engages with the rambunctious palm-muted opening of “KRLLL” and oppressive prophesying of “Disclosure”; later, the apparently smooth surface reveals the depth of those same songs, since Fogarty is usually applying all five instruments to the mixture at any time, prior to the inclusion of some understated lead guitar moments. As a result, the album displays elements of its quality right from the beginning, though additional interest continues to seep out over several listens.
DISClose is an album worthy of close attention then. But, as it doesn’t rely much on the power of instinctive thrills, one may require something more from Ewigkeit to flesh out the potential of balanced production and expertly blended musical styles. The conceptual nature of the album has been hinted at already and, to sidestep the accusation that this reviewer doesn’t really understand the overarching narrative, it can be explained by thinking of that meme with the guy from Ancient Aliens, where he holds up his hands and just says, “Aliens.” Clear though it is that Fogarty has put a lot of thought into exploring conspiracy theories of other races and their influence on Earth, quite how he worked that into fact-based songs like “Oppenheimer’s Lament” will remain a guess for a large percentage of his audience. Nevertheless, the emotions brought up by the themes ring true even when disregarding the lyrics, so lack of belief in the philosophy does not preclude sensations of wonder, unease, and resolution successfully translating themselves through the music. With Fogarty running at full power, you’re on a journey whether you like it or not.
Returning to the opening comment about artists who spread their talents over several projects, Ewigkeit has undoubtedly benefited from the narrower focus that Fogarty has been able to apply in recent years. Instead of feeling like a curiosity project designed to tickle an eclectic itch, DISClose demonstrates that one can make a coherent, captivating album without needlessly following common genre tropes or going off the charts with weirdness. Granted, more conservative listeners may raise an eyebrow at the lyrics or the vast discrepancy between the quiet harsh vocals and soaring cleans, but when the overall effect of an album is as powerful as this, such thoughts need not trouble the majority. Ewigkeit’s latest is an accessible, invigorating salvo of innovative metal.