Ebonivory – The Long Dream I
Released: June 5th, 2020
Charlie Powlett | Lead Vocals
Jake Ewings | Guitar
Louis Edwards | Lead Guitar / Backing Vocals
Connor McMillan | Bass / Backing Vocals
Dave Parkes | Drums / Percussion
To be completely candid, I think reviewing a progressive record is difficult. Let’s consider the genre: you have odd time signatures; the addition of multiple, different instruments; the complex melodies not to mention the abolition of the regular verse/chorus/verse song structure; and a prog song always takes its time getting to where it needs to go. Case in point – ‘Supper’s Ready’ by Genesis (how good were the 70s?) which is 23 minutes and seven sections in one glorious song. Instant gratification? What’s that?
Anyway, I am by no means any kind of expert in progressive rock/metal but the technicality and creative soundscapes fascinate me. So, with that, I give you The Long Dream I by Ebonivory! These guys are basically young visionaries and this album is the first of a two-part concept album.
But let’s get right to the point – this album flows oh so well. The end of some songs morph into the beginning of the next in most cases, or there’s some element that they carry to the next song to link them together. Clever, and super satisfying to the keen listener. Albums like this are meant to be listened to as a whole. Sure, you can listen to a song or two separately, but with an album like this don’t you dare go to Spotify and put it on shuffle. How will you realise how fitting ‘Introduction’ is as the album’s actual introduction with its emotive instrumentals? Or that ‘Cats’ needed to be just after ‘Patting The Black Dog’ to allow you to some down time and softly lead you into ‘A Colour I’m Blind To’. It’s a manipulation that I’m happy to be led into.
But speaking of ‘Cats’ – love the animal, hate the movie and gosh do I love this track. Ebonivory do heavy very smartly when they need to and we’ll come to that later on, but this is their first real soft song on the album and it’s beautiful. It’s atmospheric, floaty but not without substance, and vocalist Charlie Powlett hits some heavenly high notes without any fuss at all. This is one of the best songs on the album hands down. The same feel carries across in ‘Sea Sons’ which I would consider the middle of the album, it’s a soft palate cleanser before the album really picks up and gallops towards the end.
Here’s where we get the heavy heavy. It starts with ‘In Reverie’ which builds anticipation with subtle piano before somehow seamlessly bringing in the drums and guitars with stronger vocals, and then bursts into ‘Window Man’. There are a lot of nuggets in this song (golden or chicken, whatever you fancy) with riffs that start in one place and end up somewhere else, touches of piano and unclean vocals. But you know, let’s take it even heavier with ‘Explosions After Dark’. This is a fierce track with powerful growls, rapid drums and djenty riffs. It’s very different from everything on this album so far in a very, very good way.
A bit more upbeat is ‘Tales of Termina’ and features what I like to think is Ebonivory’s proggy chug. This chug appears in numerous tracks on The Long Dream I and once you hear it you definitely can’t unhear it. There’s also an actual chorus here too! But we really need to talk about ‘The Bluegums’. Going on almost nine minutes there are sounds from the outdoors, trees swaying and birds chirping before transforming into an uplifting song. You want percussion? You got it. You want an emotive soundscape? You got it. You want some sweet, layered harmonies? You got that too! Words do not do this song justice.
The Long Dream I must to come to an end sometime and it’s with ‘Introvection’ that we can see the whole picture. The first half of the album with ‘Hanmer Street’ and ‘Persist’, they were easing you into it all. Don’t get me wrong, these songs weren’t muted in any way. They’re technical and exciting and create a great base for the rest of the album to build upon. The softer songs like ‘Cats’ and ‘Sea Sons’ create a sort of interlude and ready you for a more intense back end. But with ‘Introvection’ it all comes full circle.
Ebonivory’s technical skill is undoubtedly apparent, as is their ability to create emotional and atmospheric melodies. But all that means nothing if you can’t put it all together, and that’s where I think Ebonivory really won me over. The Long Dream I is not a roller coaster that you can only ride so many times before you get bored. No, The Long Dream I is a countryside drive with hills and valleys, with scenery that changes with the seasons. You can travel this road and never be bored looking out the window.
If this is part one of The Long Dream, I can’t wait for part two.
Ebonivory – The Long Dream I Tracklisting:
2. Hanmer Street
4. Patting the Black Dog
6. A Colour I’m Blind To
7. Sea Sons
8. In Reverie
9. Window Man
10. Explosions After Dark
11. Tales of Termina
12. The Bluegums