Every now and then, reviewing one of the albums that I have selected proves to be a frustrating endeavor. Such is the case with Ever Forthright’s debut self-titled release. This six piece progressive metal project from Long Island, New York is oozing with talent that begs to be recognized, but not without a very unfortunate detractor.
Ever Forthright opens with “All Eyes On The Earth”, and while it’s not the best song on the album, it’s certainly a great indicator of the level of musicality the listener can expect from the remainder of the tracks. The sound is super technical and very dense, boasting endless polyrhythms and elements of djent. The vocals are a fair mix of (what I imagine to be deliberate) off-key clean singing and a varying range of growls. “Latency And Tendencies” pushes the envelope a bit further by adding extreme intervals of discordance and jazz fusion elements to up the ante. Between these first two songs, it’s very clear that you are dealing with the product of real prog aficionados. Unfortunately, the second song is the harbinger of exactly what is wrong with this album: the singing. More on that later.
The instrumentation is such that I could go into detail on every track and talk about how it stands apart from the rest, but I don’t want to drag this review out more than I have to. Some of the standout moments are the opening measures of “Lost In Our Escape”, the groovy breakdown in the middle of “The Counter Shift”, and the song “Clockwork” as a whole. I’d like to add that “Clockwork” is the only song where I felt like the singing didn’t destroy the rest of the track. The jazz fusion parts were extremely well done, and sometimes these elements transitioned into the metal side of the sound as well – “The Little Albert Experiment” contains an awesome saxophone solo over a mean chugging riff. It’s worth mentioning that “Infinitely Inward” opens with a verse of rapping, and closes with a female hip-hop/R&B arrangement. This felt a bit out of place at first, but upon further review, it sounds to be integrated about as seamless as possible and actually wasn’t all that bad. Also, the production quality of the record is well done overall.
So yes, about those vocals. As I said, the growls are well-varied and the execution is great, but the best way to describe the clean singing is, in most cases, absolutely atrocious. The singer’s voice is great on a technical level, but his tone is, more often than not, completely uncomplimentary to the music it is coupled with. The vocals end up fighting the rest of the music, and the whole thing turns into a sort of unflattering cacophony. What’s worse, there are backup harmonies that frequently accompany the vocals, and they only serve to make the mix even muddier. The only exception to this was the end of “Clockwork”, where the vocals actually suit the music very well. If this album wasn’t that great, I probably wouldn’t be so upset about this, but as it is, the clean vocals ruin what would have been a review rife with praise for Ever Forthright.
When all is said and done, I have trouble recommending Ever Forthright over other similarly talented acts such as Periphery or Circle Of Contempt. The music is very good and certainly noteworthy, but you will have to be a special class of music nerd to get past the awful singing. I’m not being facetious when I say that I pray this band rectifies the problem, because this album could have been my go-to recommendation for prog fans everywhere, and the fact that it won’t be is kind of a tragedy.