Review – Evership – The Uncrowned King Act 1 – by John Wenlock-Smith

Evership are, if you do not already know, the new face of American Prog, their music is a graceful and enticing mix of lots of classic US Prog and Pomp Rock bands like Kansas, Styx and Starcastle, to name just three. This ,along with their love of European progressive rock like Genesis, Yes, Gentle Giant and PFM (and romantic classical music) makes for a heady mix of sounds and textures.

They are most definitely a band to watch in the next few years. Led by Shane Atkinson (keyboards, drums, vocals, percussion, theremin and sound design) and aided by Beau West (lead vocals), James Atkinson (lead guitar) and John Rose (rhythm, classical, acoustic and lead guitar). They are also supported by Ben Young on bass and a few other friends also lend their talents to this album.

The album takes its inspiration from a book published in 1910 by Harold Bell Wright called ‘The Uncrowned King’, an allegory in the style of John Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrims Progress’ with a story arc that fuses Mark Twain’s ‘The Prince and the Pauper’ with Charles Dicken’s ‘A Christmas Carol’. The book is about the search for truth and how real truth cannot be found solely with just our five senses. That truth  is a more transcendent concept and one must show courage in the pursuit of it and its consequences. This is a two part story, this album is part 1, with part 2 in the pipeline. If you like the works that Neal Morse has offered, like ‘The Great Adventure’ and ‘Similitude Of A Dream’, appeal to you then I suspect that this one will too, as it ploughs a similar furlough in style and meaning.

Unlike Neal’s work, this album merely hints at spirituality rather than making any blatant declarations. This is, I feel, a highly effective tactic as it means the listener must reach his own conclusions about the viewpoints raised in the album. The album touches on religion, but it is not about religion although it does feature throughout.

The album has seven tracks, an epic sixteen minute track, three long tracks around ten minutes long and three shorter tracks. Together, this all lasts for just around sixty minutes and is full of excellent music and songs with quality lyrics. You will need the booklet with you to comprehend and grasp the subtleties of this album to get maximum enjoyment and appreciation of this piece of exquisitely crafted music.

The album opens with The Pilgrimage, which starts with a long instrumental section of about four minutes with lots of keyboards and synths, this is followed by some chunky guitar riffs as vocals are introduced. This is very symphonic sounding prog and very well done indeed. The pilgrimage details the journey the traveller makes from the Desert of Facts to The Temple of Truth and acts as an opener to the tale. Upon reaching the temple the traveller must meet the criteria for entry. The traveller is granted entry to The Quiet Room where he will be visited by four voices, firstly The Voice of The Waves who speaks of The Great That Is, The Uncrowned King and a Magic Crown.

This is followed by Crownshine/Allthetime which relates more of the backstory to the tale and commences with keyboards for one and a half minutes before Beau West starts singing of how the Crown was beautiful, magical and marvellous. All this is aided by some soaring guitar lines, choral voices and what sounds like tubular bells, although it could be played by the the synths of Shane Atkinson, all in all a strong and agreeable opening section.

The Tower follows where the narrative is told in song, of how the two princes in the kingdom wanted more than what they could see. Whilst looking from the tallest tower in the land they could see in the distance another land that looked good to them and so they sought consent from the king to go and discover this land for themselves. As they looked beyond their world to seek out and find new experiences and attractions to satisfy their wanderlust, the two princes, Really-Is and Seemsto-be, are prepared to risk everything.

There is a lot going on in the section with some excellent musicianship and some strong themes, along with lots of information pertaining to the story. We are also introduced to the two princes, Really-Is and Seemsto-be and we are also told of the life they lived, happy in a land where they enjoyed freedom of choices about what they chose to believe and the way they lived by. It also tells us of how they both looked the same and no one could tell them apart, a critical part of the tale as it transpires. 

The Voice of The Evening Wind introduces the two princes, their steeds Reality and Appearance and set us up for the adventures they had in the pursuit of what they did not have. This is the paradox at the heart of the tale and how truth can be deceptive, and wisdom can be forgotten and forsaken in foolish quests.    

The book on which this tale is based is certainly an interesting and intriguing one, one that, because it is over 200 years old, is not always clear in the points it makes but it is worth looking into. It is a book much loved by Shane and Beau and the video on their website details its impact on them. 

This album takes you partway into the tale with the remainder to follow later this year and if it is as good as this one is it too will be very warmly welcomed and received, you really need to listen to it several times to understand, excellent work from all concerned.

Released May 21st, 2021.

Order direct from the band here:

Evership Store – Purchase CDs, Vinyl, T-shirts and other Evership Merchandise

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