Evans Blue - The Melody and The Energetic Nature of Volume Review
By Dan Upton
So let's say a band surveyed the modern rock scene and noticed that some of the biggest things going are melodic hard rock, nu metal bands trying to reinvent themselves, and emo. And just for kicks, let's say they named themselves after a carcinogenic medical dye. (Who says reviews aren't educational?) Sounds like a recipe for success, you say? Well, you'd probably be right; the first single from Evans Blue, "Cold (But I'm Still Here)," has hit #1 on some charts and is doing well on several others, and this CD has already seen some pretty good reviews. On the other hand, it might sound like the band would be completely derivative and end up as fodder for the flavor of the day crowd.
The truth lies somewhere in the middle. I'm a little turned off by the title of the CD and a few of the tracks, such as "A Cross and A Girl Named Blessed," just on the grounds that they strike me as overly pretentious. Their bio doesn't help much on this front, categorizing themselves with titles such as "the influence/the drive" (the drummer) or "the lead/the aura" (one of the guitarists). Creative, maybe, but unnecessary. Then again, I'm reviewing the music, not their promotion, so I guess that's a moot point. The music writing shows heavy influences from bands like Crossfade, Earshot, and Breaking Benjamin, along with fellow Canadians Nickelback and Default. Vocalist Matisyn hits his stride in the realm of those bands as well, although there are places on the CD where his vocals are reminiscent of Taproot or Rise Against. The emo connection comes in heaviest on the lyrics, all apparently relationship oriented, with degrees of darkness/sadness even in the otherwise positive ones. The aforementioned single is one of the weaker tracks in my opinion, but there are a few seriously catchy songs, such as "Beg" or "Possession," with big choruses begging for singing along. On the other hand, there are some I just can't get into, such as the mellower "Quote," which encapsulates far too many lines of the song with the words 'quote'/'unquote.' Again, starting to strike me as a bit pretentious.
Maybe pretentiousness is okay, if you have a long history or you're an art rock band. On the other hand, when you're doing modern heavy rock and writing a CD full of radio length songs, I'd say there's a fine line to walk. Fortunately, there's enough to rescue this CD from all of the bashing I might do over that: the writing has enough character so as to not sound completely ripped off, although I wouldn't credit it as overly original, and even most of the weaker songs are still well-enough written to be enjoyable to listen to. This isn't absolutely necessary listening, but particularly if you're into bands like Breaking Benjamin, Crossfade, 10 Years, and the like, you'll probably enjoy Evans Blue too.
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