This album has been quite a long time in arriving so its title, ‘Evolver’ is very apt. In real terms this is the follow on from the Valdez album, ‘This’, from 2017. Their plans for recording the follow up were drastically altered, initially by a line up change and then followed by the impact of the pandemic, which meant everything changed. The result being a name change for the band to Tribe of Names. ‘Evolver’ is the delayed result and what an album it has turned out to be, the new line up and name seem to have worked out well as this album is full of genuinely progressive music and some fine tracks.
Opener Tribe Of Names begins like an 80’s synth pop number but this is soon replaced by some solid bass lines and jangly guitar then latterly by some solid, meaty guitar riffery and an epic soaring guitar line which is all underpinned by that funky bass line and that’s all in the initial 3 minutes of starting! This is solid and exciting music to hear, it has lots of Rush type elements and guitar playing reminiscent of Alex Lifeson. I believe guitarist Karl Eisenhart started by learning Rush songs and still plays in that style, well he certainly learned his chops! The song is a great one with lots of odd time signatures and a great solo from Karl that plays toward the end of the track, a very strong opener. They Live To Cry is a more subdued piece, again this has elements of Rush running throughout but is all so well handled that it doesn’t really matter, This in not a tribute though, more it feels influenced by Rush, although not overly so. The song has great melody and music and I really like it.
Liar Liar has a strong and dominant bass part with touches of guitar arpeggios and linear playing. This is a shorter but no less interesting track and is great sounding too. Everyday Haunted is another brief track filled with sustained guitar tones over a swelling keyboard, an echoed vocal adding menace and interest. This is an intriguing piece of music with tremolo guitar notes adding to the weirdness, all very strange but brilliantly so. We are then back in somewhat familiar territory with White Nile, a track that builds in intensity with lots of drum crashes and rumbling bass over guitar tones that could be straight out of La Villa Strangiato, another great track to be influenced from. The strident opening part gives way to a more mellow section of moody music, this is a highlight of the album thus far, excellent performances and solid and inventive playing from all parties.
The Last Unsung Girl is slightly different with a quirky sound, rhythm and melody. Coupled with its mixed time signatures this is certainly distinctive and yet oddly compelling with a great guitar line after which we get a funky bass and guitar section leading to a fine solo from Karl. This is an album whose songs will creep up on you and take a real grip on you, it’s certainly stirring stuff. Mayfly is another guitar led piece with more crunching guitar lines underpinned by a sympathetic bass. There is much beauty to enjoy here, it is very accomplished and well delivered by the band and another somewhat satisfying song. The final and longest track, Dirt On The Inside concludes this excellent album with its extended run time giving lots of room for the music to evolve without constraints, the slower opening section being allowed to build in its intensity for the initial four minutes. This leaves you waiting for the track to explode into life, which it does around the four minute mark where the guitar line surges forward with power in a dramatic manner before some solid bass runs are joined by guitar unison lines with tremolo again. The pace increases again to another excellent solo with the band firing on all cylinders. This is a most impressive track with lots going on musically and it all sounds really effective, there follows a slower, less intense, part which allows guitarist Karl to play some sustained guitar lines before reprising the earlier solo as the song draws to a solid close.
This album should appeal to folks who miss Rush as it explores similar territories. Overall, this is a very strong and musically diverse album with powerful statements and an excellent sound. The sleeve by Mark Buckingham is also very noteworthy and interesting, I heartily recommend this great album.
Released 4th November, 2022.
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