Everdawn were spawned from what once was Midnight Eternal. After a rather nasty split where former vocalist Raine Hilal took over Midnight Eternal’s social media, the band went all passive aggressive and changed their name to the opposite. It’s actually kinda funny when you think about it, even though that split and the subsequent name change will likely follow them forever. Enter Everdawn, and their debut/sophomore album (depending how you look at it), Cleopatra. The guys released just the one self titled album under the Midnight Eternal moniker, and it was… decent, I guess. Cleopatra is a giant step up, though not without its issues. The main lineup change is of course the change in vocalist and Alina Gavrilenko succeeds where her predecessor couldn’t deliver. A classically trained operatic soprano she has all the talent to bridge the symphonic gap with the progpower elements of the rhythm section. Obviously, Mike LePond is there, but he’s everywhere, so. His bass licks are what you’d expect from him; ass kicking and prominent in the mix, standing aside from the driving riffage of Richard Fischer.
There are a number of kickass tracks on here, mostly the first part of the album. Opener Ghost Shadow Requiem is a massive, operatic blast of thunder and power, Gavrilenko’s massive presence holding court over thick riffing and epic keyboards from Boris Zaks. The melodics and epic soundscape from Zaks keys offset the darker tone of Fischer’s riffing and help add that epic backdrop for Gavrilenko’s vocal performance. It works incredibly well in the best moments, like the title track or the aforementioned Ghost Shadow Requiem. Fischer’s soloing is also very much on point, as he delivers a solid performance and some sweet soloing throughout the album, accentuating the climaxes of the highlights with great delivery. Thomas Vikström of Therion makes a guest appearance on Your Majesty Sadness for a surprisingly potent and emotionally striking duet, the chemistry with Gavrilenko hitting just right. Toward the second half of the album tracks like Lucid Dream offers up some speedy riffing and a punch of an approach in the double bass beats while short instrumental Toledo 712 A.D. brings some sweet melodic interplay between Fischer and Zaks for two minutes.
Though there is an even quality throughout, after a stellar opening 20 minutes some flaws begin to show up. The songwriting seems less focused; epics turn to your average four minute smashers, while the musicianship stagnates a little as well. At times bridging the Kamelot-ian and the Symphony X like with the European school for a darkly mystic sound they pull off superbly, but in the dragging moments more closer to reiterating Nightwish tropes, complete with a couple filler tracks - the biggest offender being the boring Riders of the Storm. The Last Eden closes off the album on a note much like it opened, though without the initial punch that permeated the first few tracks. Cleopatra is nevertheless a very competent sophomore album by a band whose first effort was stifled by some less refined choices and subpar performances. They’ve evolved quite a bit in the five years since its release, finding their sound to a larger extent. The greatest moments on here are stellar, while the decent moments are just that; decent, nothing to really complain about. So keeping with this line of development there’s no way for Everdawn to go but up. As long as they don’t let some disgruntled employee hijack their social media accounts.
Standout tracks: Ghost Shadow Requiem, Cleopatra, Your Majesty Sadness