An Evening Redness – An Evening Redness Review

Only that man who has offered up himself entire to the blood of war, who has been to the floor of the pit and seen the horror in the round and learned at last that it speaks to his inmost heart, only that man can dance.” So goes a notable passage from Cormac McCarthy’s bleak masterpiece Blood Meridian, or the Evening Redness in the West. It’s a brilliant and endlessly quotable novel that serves as the source material for An Evening Redness’s debut offering of Americana-tinged drone/doom. Band mastermind Brandon Elkins set out to make a record that plays like the score to the movie version of Blood Meridian that should exist but doesn’t.1 Is it a fool’s errand, or have Elkins and company earned the right to this dance?

Six soundscapes inspired by McCarthy’s apocalyptic vision of the Old West sprawl across the album’s fifty-five minute run time. They vary in tone and arrangement, from the Earth-like drones of opener “Alkali” to the slide guitar and harmonica-tinged abstractions of “Winter, 1847” and “The Judge.” Weighty passages coexist throughout with plaintive sections that can reasonably be called “pretty.” Bridget Bellavia’s gorgeous clean vocals feature heavily in two of the shorter pieces (“Mesa Skyline” and “Pariah”), and she shows up again to summon hellfire towards the end of epic closer “Black Flame at the Edge of the Desert.” Eclectic flourishes abound, some of which work better than others. The Americana elements bolster the platter’s ominous tone, but the King Crimson-style noodlings that carry the middle section of “Black Flame at the Edge of the Desert” feel limp and out of place. LIstening to An Evening Redness really does mimic the experience of listening to many film scores, in that it features a few thrilling highs punctuated by long washes of aimless, almost ambient sound.

The drone movements that highlight An Evening Redness achieve a hypnotic effect through sheer repetition. This is common to masters of the subgenre like Om and Sun O))), and it works kind of like the classic Simpsons gag where Sideshow Bob steps on rakes and smashes himself in the face over and over and over again. First, you register the basic joke (or riff), then your mind rebels against the repetition, and finally–if you can get past stage two–the repeated element transcends its own confines and breaks through into something new and unexpected. In opener “Alkali,” an acoustic riff slowly transmutes into a massive doom section. Listening to the song feels like watching a storm approach, only to suddenly find yourself in the middle of the tempest with no shelter in sight. It’s a riveting twelve-minute crawl, but unfortunately it’s the high point of the album.

Vast swaths of the record devolve into mere ambiance. Only the meandering “The Judge,” stands out as a true lowlight, introduced by rattlesnake noises that are intended to feel sinister but instead register as a cliche. Even so, none of the other compositions stick to the ribs. Bellavia’s vocals add welcome variety to three of the songs, but she’s given little to work with in terms of hooks or melodies. Other numbers take too long to snap into focus. “Black Flame at the Edge of the Desert” reaches for the epic scope of “Alkali” but loses its way in a wandering middle section that clashes with the climax rather than building to it. The tortured solo that closes “Winter, 1847” is powerful, but you’d be obliged to forget the five-minute bed of keys and slide guitar that leads into it.

An Evening Redness takes a potent work of art as its point of departure, and the album gets full marks for using some original techniques in pursuit of its muse. The comparisons to Earth are obvious and valid, but An Evening Redness succeed in creating a sound of their own. They fall short of using that sound to craft a wholly compelling listen. You can throw this album on to set a mood while you’re working the back forty, but until the project commits to making more pieces with the drive and scope of “Alkali,” this is music that’s safely consigned to the background.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 6 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Transylvanian Recordings
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: February 25th, 2022

Show 1 footnote

  1. Note to self: make movie version of Blood Meridian.
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