State of the Art Review by Odyssey
*This is part of the State Of The Art series, showcasing bands every Monday from a featured State*
This month’s State is Minnesota!
Coincidence, fate or just good timing, it is funny how things work out sometimes. While we are having no difficulties finding good Metal in Minnesota, a band was brought to my attention just before the state was chosen for this month’s State of the Art series. Heavy Power Metal (which, incidentally, is one of my favorite types of Metal) analogous to legendary bands like Iron Maiden, Hammerfall, Blind Guardian, Amon Amarth and Iced Earth. This week I give you Eternal Voyager.
While not widely known outside of the Minnesota area where they are long-time staples, Eternal Voyager is no noob to the Metal world. Not by any stretch of the imagination. From Bloomington, MN and having been originally named Eternal Requiem, Eternal Voyager was some formed eighteen years ago and has been tearing it up ever since. Frontman, guitarist and songwriter Brian Blake has been the point-man since the band’s inception and continues to be the standard-bearer for their brand of heavy Power driven by strong choruses and melodies with the addition of European Power Metal dramatics and dynamics not often heard from North American bands. Not unheard of, by any means, but not often done as well as Eternal Voyager does it. Starting life as a trio many years ago, there have been numerous personnel changes over the years, Eternal Voyager currently enlists the talents of Brian Blake on guitar and vocals, Micah Devereaux on vocals and keys, Kurt Johnson on the lead axe, Mike Durenberger on drums and Jeff Igelrud on bass and is said to be “comprised of the most professional, powerful, and dedicated musicians the band has ever seen” according to Blake from the EV website. This is a huge compliment to everyone involved considering former guitarist for Epecurian Rob Nesco and Firewind/Outloud keyboardist Bob Katsionis have both played in earlier incantations of the band. Individual influences include Iced Earth, Hammerfall, Iron Maiden, DIO, Judas Priest, Rush, Tool, Led Zeppelin, The Police, Opeth, Testament and an assortment of early eighties thrash that give Eternal Voyager a range that allows them to produce music ranging from introspective and thoughtful slower pieces to hard hitting and angry songs based in mythology, war and the ongoing battle of good vs. evil and freedom vs. tyranny. Fitting subject matter for the genre they aim to dominate. Eternal Voyager has released two demoes called “Holy Warrior” in 2009 and “Vagabond” in 2010 along with a recently re-release LP entitled “The Battle Of Eternity” originally released in late 2014. All are heavily driven by ariose guitar-work, rich and strong vocals stratified over pounding bass and drums blasting analogous to a volcanic eruption. Since recruiting the keyboard/songwriting talents of Devereaux and producer Stu “The Hammer” Marshall (Death Dealer/Blasted to Static/Zephaniah/Vanlade/Corners of Sanctuary), the next concept album due out by the end of the year entitled “Darkened Times” promises to be more dynamic with a more a more straight forward storyline and will solidify Eternal Voyager as a top player in North American Power Metal. EV normally plays in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area but has been seen on the bill at various music festivals with numerous touring acts in and around their local turf and is anxious to have the opportunity to formally tour as soon as possible. A video for “Winds Of Fire” is also in the works but is yet to be released. Definitely looking forward to seeing this. In the interim while we wait for the next album, “The Battle Of Eternity” can be picked up from CDBaby, iTunes, Amazon or from various other music outlets.
With a band basing its name on the eternal, undying belief in oneself on the voyage of being true to yourself and those that support you, Eternal Voyager brings the fire, playing their long loved flavor of heavy Power Metal and should, without a doubt, be on your list of discovery bands to listen to, support and go out and see when they reach your area as they expand their influence.
Eternal Voyager is Back in Action
WRITTEN BY BRETT KIHLMIRE
It’s been a year since Eternal Voyager unleashed their debut ‘The Battle for Eternity,’ but the Minnesota power metal outfit is far from done. With a new album in production and a revised lineup, Eternal Voyager is getting ready the hit the pavement.
“A lot of new things happened,” says vocalist and guitarist, Brian Blake, in reference to the enlistment of a new drummer and lead guitarist, Mike Durenburger and Kurt Johnson, as well as new material on the horizon. “Everyone cares about this band and the music is better than ever.”
A revolving door lineup has been the bane of the band’s existence for much of its history causing a four year gap between their 2010 EP ‘Vagabond’ and 2014’s ‘The Battle for Eternity.’ Fortunately, the band has finally found the right lineup and is powering forward with a new album, as well as touring ambitions that include negotiations to join Warbringer and Enforcer on their upcoming North American tour. In the meantime, the band has booked a performance at the Northern Wisconsin Metalfest, and a few bar shows around the Twin Cities. Blake also states his ambition to break into the Milwaukee scene and his hope to perform alongside established acts such as Conniption and Mercy Isle.
“We’re ready to do something. We’re ready to get in people’s faces. We’ve worked hard to get this far and we’re ready,” says Blake in regard to itch to take the band beyond the Twin Cities.
While Eternal Voyager is putting a good deal of focus on playing live shows and building their fan base, they’re also working on their upcoming album. Vocalist and keyboardist, Micah Devereaux, shared an exclusive sneak peak at an unfinished song entitled ‘Tyrants.’ For longtime Voyager fans, you’re going to notice heavier riffs and increased technicality in the drums and rhythm section. Rest assured, the may have evolved, but at its core, this is still Eternal Voyager.
“The direction is different, but not too far from the original Voyager sound,” says Blake, while Devereaux adds. “I’m feeling really positive now that we’re getting a product that we can finally hear. It’s going to be a little bit different and a little bit bigger sounding, but more streamlined. We’re very excited about it. This band sounds better than it ever has.”
Given the intensity and complex storyline of the previous album, there’s little doubt that the forthcoming follow up will meet or exceed expectations. As with the previous album, Devereaux will once again be lending his artistic talents by creating the cover art. This time, however, he will be expanding his input by producing the album in the band’s home studio, as well as adding his keyboard skills. As for the storyline, the heroic, time travelling Voyager will be making a return, but with some subtle changes.
“We’re going to carry on the storyline. It’s a rough, loose concept based on mythology,” says Blake. “The two albums are going to be night and day.”
Due in part to their songs “Holy Warrior” and “The New Jerusalem,” the band received a bit of scrutiny with some writing the band off as religious. Blake has since fired back stating that the story is a metaphor for good vs. evil, and freedom vs. tyranny. As such, the new album is promises to be less philosophical and more straight to the point in its meaning, while still delivering an epic power metal concept.
Currently, there is no date for the new album, for the band is taking their time to perfect their songs. Given that only a year has passed since their latest release, this decision is acceptable on the grounds that an album of superior quality is on the way. In the meantime, fans will have to check the band’s Facebook and official webpage for updates on the album and shows. Chances are the band just might play a few of their new songs to test crowd reaction, so that they can better tweak the final sound. Until then, here’s to hoping the next Eternal Voyager album is as good, or better, than their stunning debut.
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