From the full-on power metal assault of album opener Dig in the Night to the melodious Beethoven-inspired strains of closing instrumental Note, there’s an awful lot to get your teeth into on the first release from Italy’s Hevidence.
If you know anything of DGM, the Italian prog metal band from whence guitarist and leading light of Hevidence Diego Reali hails, you’ll probably think you know what to expect from this album, but you’d be just a little off beam if you thought you’d be getting simply a new incarnation of DGM. Hevidence are more immediate, more hard-hitting, more simplistically melodic, and therefore probably just a little bit more accessible to the casual ear.
Central to this state of affairs are the superb vocals of Corrado Quoiani, a man with a superbly flexible voice that would appear to be able to cope with anything Reali can throw at it. To my ears he’s best on the more melodic material – the title track in particular is very impressive – but he handles the heavy and fast stuff pretty well too, meaning he’s quite possibly one of the vocal finds of 2016. A latter day Joe Lynn Turner anyone?
Hevidence (who are rounded out by the rhythm section of Andrea Arcangeli on bass and drummer Emiliano Bonini) as a band however seem to be most in their element – on the first half of the album at least, of which more later – on melodic, classically-tinged power metal of the sort Yngwie J. Malmsteen made his own in the late eighties. There’s barely a whiff of progressive intricacy on show in terms of song structure, with the highlight being – and justifiably so – the fabulous guitar technique of Reali, who manages to fit in about a million notes too many on the superb Miracle yet still stays in touch with words like taste, if not restraint, the resultant barrage being counterpointed beautifully by the melodic singing of Quoiani. Fans of old school shred will be in seventh heaven listening to this track.
So Unkind is less successful to this reviewers ears, at least; Arcangeli walking his bass all over the place whilst the rest of the band indulge in some slightly hamfisted Van Halenish hair metal, but that could well be personal taste impinging on critical rigour.
The first half of the album ends with the excellent Ave Maria, a super-melodic, high-octane romp that again lets Reali run riot, Overdrive is a bit looser, a bit more rock n’roll and might come as a bit of light relief if the shred isn’t totally your thing. Reali does however manage to fit some stellar solo work into the song though, of course! Next track I Want More is a rollicking, Deep Purple/Rainbow style blues, built around a triumphant riff from Reali and another superbly self-assured vocal performance from Quoiani. I wouldn’t be surprised if this isn’t my favourite track on the album after a few more listens, such is it’s quasi-perfect representation of modern ‘classic’ metal…
The band get their funk on (or is it out? – Ed.) for Out of Time, and again, despite some nice vocal harmonies this track sticks out as possibly not quite fitting the mood the band set elsewhere. Deep Purple sans Blackmore, Extreme and the Chilli Peppers are all reference points the listener might pick up here, but for me it’s just a little too far into what Ritchie Blackmore might term ‘shoeshine territory’ for this album. It’s here that fans of the harder stuff might start sensing that things are going a bit wrong – Pack Your Bags is a strident funk metal workout also, souped up possibly to the very edges of that genre by the band’s impressive, muscular playing, but funky nevertheless, with the album now seeming to form two distinct halves. Reali excels again, he really does, but it’s all a bit of a disappointment after the first half of the album… Penultimate track All I Ever Needed is a turbocharged boogie workout, a bit of fun but not much more, which leaves that closing instrumental to put things back on an even, neoclassical keel.
In conclusion the album ends up a little disjointed, almost as if two seperate EPs have been bolted together and put out as an album. However the combination of Reali and Quoiani really is rather good, and probably worth further investigation if you like a bit of eighties-styled showing off from your singers and banjo players…