Throughout 2017—and for years prior, truthfully—much of the heavy music community has been calling for change: a deviation from the low-and-slow status quo or a collective maturation from fifteen breakdowns per every two songs by a “new” band. While often irritating and elitist, the calls for heavy music “reform” aren’t without a reasonable impetus: in the months and years passed, things have gotten a little stagnant. While many bands are working at changing that in increments—going either further into the “heavy” rabbit hole or adding new and exciting genres to create fusion styles and genres, one artist in particular decided to kick subtlety to the curb, creating something truly out of this world.
The brainchild of Dallas Turner and studio/live guitarist Eli Slamang, Uprise, Ev0lution’s debut full-length release, is a wild and unrestrained mash-up of EDM, trap, hip-hop, house and…deathcore. Featuring nearly an hour of grooves, gutwrenching breakdowns, dazzling drops and excellently programmed electronic elements alongside some of heavy music’s most renowned vocalists, guitarists and drummers, Uprise is an intensely polarizing album that—like it or not—is the thoroughly original and completely unique boost brutal music didn’t know it needed.
Conceptually driven and creative for its entirety, describing Uprise and all it’s twists and turns is a little like trying to describe color to someone who was born blind. From the sirens and samples of “Fallout,” to the contagiously catchy “The Greada Treaty” and the immense, jaw-breaking closer “Ev0lution,” Turner and Slamang incorporate progressive metalcore and deathcore elements into a framework of various electronic music stylings and soundscapes seamlessly. “Fallout,” for example, sees Turner adding a thick, fluid groove to a bleak and dreary trap backdrop, just as “My Nightmare” sees him using bright and bouncy, ass-swingin’ electronic beats alongside a splash of eccentric alt-rock/post-hardcore styling to create something you’re as likely to hear at a club downtown or through the headphones of an angsty 15 year old girl. Turner’s inventiveness is at its peak, however, during “The Greada Treaty,” which sees Adam Warren’s full (and I mean full) vocal range over a glitzy, bright dubstep sample (courtesy of Blast) and Turner’s ability to create steady, sinister moments of groove-tinted heaviness. This dynamic carries on through much of Uprise—some tracks on the heavier end (namely the entire first half and the titular closing number), while some feel like ever-so-slightly more aggressive EDM numbers (“My Nightmare” and “Future”). Then, there are numbers like “Conquer,” which see Traitors frontman and hip-hop enthusiast Tyler Shelton step to the mic with Drew Gates, creating a raunchy and supremely catchy trap/hip-hop number with a handful of hellish aggression tossed in.
Trying to do a by-the-numbers analysis of every vocalist and artist Turner brought on board to make Uprise a reality would be as exhausting to write as it would be to read—but make no mistake, every single person involved adds something thoroughly their own to Ev0lution that, in a sense, makes it more complicated than just a sprawling solo/studio project. With many tracks featuring the captivating cleanly sung voice of Devin Barrus (recently announced as the vocalist in Sumerian’s mystery project In Motive), Turner and Barrus in turn recruit no shortage of talented vocalists. Thy Art is Murder frontman CJ McMahon makes two appearances, gracing the listener with his own brand of brutality, be it over “Fallout” and it’s trappy allure or “Uprise,” closer to his true form. Similarly, Infant Annihilator’s Dickie Allen, Enterprise Earth’s Dan Watson and Shadow of Intent’s Ben Duerr also appear alongside Oceano’s Adam Warren—some of heavy music’s most renowned names. Warren’s performance in “The Greada Treaty” is especially noteworthy—as his true singing voice is magnificent. Tyler Shelton works with slick-tongued rapper Drew Gates on “Conquer,” giving listeners diversity in more ways than one would think could fit into a single track. Even guest instrumentalists appear—Emmure’s percussionist Josh Miller and Slaughter to Prevail’s Jack Simmons among them—working with Turner to capture intensity and aggression in a less-vocalcentric manner. Ev0lution as a project is, ultimately, as good as the features that show up to add flair—and the features are damn good.
Amid the praise for creativity and diversity that Ev0lution rightfully earns, Uprise has still been met with heaps of dissent from metal purists. In the end, Ev0lution is the very definition of a polarizing act; it’s practically impossible to be indifferent to, as anyone who gives Turner a shot seems to love it or loathe it. While the first half of the album is loaded with songs that are peerless in style and quality, as the album goes on, it feels less unique and brilliant and more like an EDM release with a couple breakdowns—until “Treego” and “Ev0lution” finish things off. Personally, the vibe created by the first twenty five minutes of the release is surreal and excellent, with it tapering sharply after “Conquer” ends, but for most, Uprise is a love-it-or-hate-it experience. The fact remains: heavy music is in dire need of an overhaul—and beggars can’t be choosers. Ultimately, Turner/Ev0lution deserve hearty praise for the courage and wherewithal to make it a reality.
For Fans Of: The Algorithm, Modern Day Babylon, Oceano, Blast, The Browning
By: Connor Welsh