Having been an avid listener of prog-metal for about 7 years, I have always been one to say that every act that falls into this genre is usually a definite hit or miss. Judging from Everwood’s “Mind Games,” however, this is not the case. This record from the Hungarian natives has its strengths and weaknesses that come together to deliver what in the end is overall good, solid, experimental prog-metal.
Everwood formed back in 1997 by founding members Viktor Erdos and Attila Tanczer, and came complete in 2000. After recording a small demo, touring with a few Hungarian metal acts (Stainless Steel, Arnyak, Dying Wish) and picking up vocalist Balaz “Balu” Koncz, EVERWOOD began to start gaining its momentum. Its second demo in 2002 started to gain notoriety, leading them to play through all of Hungary and eventually led them to create the Taste of Metal Festival in 2004. Shortly after the festival, EVERWOOD entered the studio to record their debut “Mind Games.” The result is a fine work of progressive metal in the vein of Symphony X, Evergrey, and Pain of Salvation, completed with a raw sense of ambition.
The musicianship of the band is precise, well crafted, and tight although it does have its flaws. The vocals of “Balu” are at times inconsistent in the changing of registers. His strength lies in his lower range in which his voice resembles Russell Allen (Symphony X) and Fabio Lone (Rhapsody) and pulls it off extremely well. When trying to hit the higher notes, his voice comes off as a bit rough around the edges, and does not match up with his lower sounding voice. The guitar work of Ferenc Farcas is excellent, at times resembling the patterns of John Petrucci (Dream Theater) crossed with the guitar sounds of Swedish death metal acts (Soilwork comes to mind). However, the guitar playing is a bit too overshadowed by the keyboard work of Attila Tanczer. While the musicianship and sounds of his keyboard playing is almost flawless, it tends to be overly dominant throughout the album and does not seem to give the phenomenal bass work of Victor Erdos, the guitars, or the drums much justice. This is a bummer because the rhythm section (Erdos, drummer Nandor Barabas, Farcas) plays a very important part of the songs and structures of EVERWOOD.
Having said all of this, “Mind Games” is nonetheless a good record with a lot to offer musically. Tracks such as “The Past is Alive” and “Heart So Cold” are strong songs with a heavy Dream Theater influence and a heavy bottom end sound. “As the Ocean Cries” is a nod to classic Queensryche, and at times sounds like EuropE. The big stand out, however, is “Jean D’Ark (Never Surrender)” that puts it all together for the band. Complete with a Maiden-like introduction, with musical passages resembling Evergrey, it is the best song on the album. Some of the other songs do not seem to flow as well or as consistently; “Sense of Guilt” tries to showcase Everwood’s thrashier side, but in the end sounds a bit too contrived and tense.
In the end, EVERWOOD has a solid sense of direction, a great deal of determination, and a lot of heart. “Mind Games” was a good start for a debut album, but not without room for improvement. All the band has to do is to smooth away the rough edges, musically be a little more consistent, and to improve the production so that all of the instruments are evenly layered and heard closer together.
- Balazs "Balu" Koncz - Vocals
- Ferenc Farkas - Guitars
- Victor Erdos - Bass
- Nandor Barabas - Drums
- Attila Tanczer - Keyboards
- Into the Mind Games
- The Past is Alive
- Heart So Cold
- Remembrance of a Fallen Angel
- The Colonists - Black Leaves Fall
- As the Ocean Cries
- Jean D'Ark (Never Surrender)
- Sense of Guilt
- Who's the One to Blame?
- The Two of Use
- Where I Belong