Review Summary: Ever Forthright's debut effort entitled "Periphery Plays Dillinger Escape Plan" is glorious at its best, and horrifically erratic at its worst.Ever Forthright
, self-described on their SoundCloud page as a “progressive metal/jazz” band from New York City, hit the airwaves with their self-titled effort last December. Hearing much about the band in different corners of the internet, I, along with many others, was very excited to hear how their debut album sounded, given that I'm a fan of bands in a similar vein to theirs (Meshuggah
, The Safety Fire
). Would it sound like a Periphery
copycat, given the Chris Baretto connection? Would it sound more like Death of a Dead Day? Would it be the next Chaosphere? After giving Ever Forthright
a good listen, I'm confident in saying you've never heard anything quite like this before.
The instrumentals on Ever Forthright
are oozing with skill and musicality. Each member of Ever Forthright
is immensely talented, and it shows throughout the album. It's a real treat to hear when everyone in the band seems to be on the same page, when all the musicality comes together, shown in much of a track like “Screen Scenarios.” Another plus on Ever Forthright
is former Periphery
frontman Chris Baretto's vocals (check out “Spineless,” good lord). I very much enjoyed his work when he was with Periphery
, and I think he sounds even better now with consistency and a much improved vocal range, so it's nice to see he's found a new outlet. The songs on Ever Forthright
are generally enjoyable, the band have a very distinct sound, and it's quite apparent that the foundation for an extremely successful metal band is there.
Unfortunately, the downfall of Ever Forthright
is its detached composition and inaccessibility. The structure of the tracks gets to be so capricious at times that it completely kills the momentum of the track, and in many ways, of the entire album. It seems as though just as you're getting into one of the songs on this record, a random free-form jazz interlude or an unnecessary outburst of atonal shredding will cut in and will more than likely provoke some feeling of confusion. A good example of this lies in the track “Latency and Tendencies.” The first two-and-a-quarter minutes of this track are absolutely solid – the band is firing on all cylinders, Baretto's vocals are on point, and you're really starting to immerse yourself in what sounds like a band that really wants to solidify itself as one of the big dogs in the (forgive my use of this term) djent scene, taking cues from bands like Meshuggah
. However, just as this song is getting good, this unfocused detachment rears its ugly head, and does so again and again throughout the album. It gets terribly frustrating after a while, and a lot of listeners, myself included, will probably lose interest fairly quickly.
Allow me to provide an unnecessarily elaborate analogy to explain. Imagine you're a kid again. You're hanging out in your bedroom, and you're playing with your favorite toy – your Legos. You've got all kinds of sets of Legos you've accumulated over the course of your childhood. You've got the Death Star, the Eiffel Tower, the Capitol Building, and a medieval-style castle. You spend a few hours one day putting all of these sets together, and boy, are you proud of them when you finish. Then, afterward, you arrange all of these structures in some sort of Lego fantasy city, with all sorts of Lego men roaming the streets. Han Solo and Darth Vader are there, and so is Abraham Lincoln. You've got Chewbacca hanging off the side of the Eiffel Tower, King Kong style. Darth Maul and George Washington are about to duel in the castle courtyard. Point being: while each of these sets of Legos on their own are quite the work of art, when they're all forced together into some sort of random hodgepodge, it doesn't make much sense.
Bottom line: I really, really want to like this album more than I actually do. I very much enjoyed large sections of Ever Forthright
, but I find it hard for me to truly enjoy the entire product. This is one of those situations where the whole is not, in fact, greater than the sum of its parts. I've tried listening to this album in multiple settings – driving around town, in the gym, in bed before I go to sleep – and I just can't get into it. It feels incredibly unfocused for much of the record, and downright overwhelming at times. I'll definitely be on the lookout for their next album, where hopefully they can put together a more coherent effort.
“The Counter Shift”