James Fogarty has a bit of a dilemma on his hands. Having dismantled his solo project Ewigkeit some ten years ago, coupled with a rant about metal being conservative and out of touch, how on earth is he going to resurrect the project and make it relevant? Having had a few other endeavors on the go over the past ten years, including the electronic/metal Bombs of Enduring Freedom, the comical Jaldaboath, and a hand in the last In the Woods effort, the man has proven himself an adept singer/songwriter/multi-instrumentalist, but overcoming his Ewigkeit-ending statements will take a certain amount of chutzpah. Let’s see if he’s got it.
Cosmic Man, Ewigkeit’s sixth release, starts off in the worst possible way: with a meaningless two-minute instrumental, “Quantum Eraser.” It’s one of my two pet peeve errors Fogarty commits on Cosmic Man. After a few obligatory listens, I prefer to skip it and get right to the meat of the music, which comes in the form of the extreme metal “Cold Souls.” With Ewigkeit having taken root in black metal way back in the 90s, “Cold Souls” should come as no surprise, but does leave me wondering what the point is. It’s a great-sounding song, blasting away with furious vocals, but why bring a band back from the dead to rehash old sounds? A closer listen reveals the truth, as a minute in Fogarty switches to his clean vocals, which are very much like Hammers of Misfortune’s Joe Hutton, and we’re into a more traditional NWOBHM feel. The extreme vocals come and go, as does the blasting, but it turns out they’re a well-used effect rather than a crutch, and despite clocking in at a lengthy seven minutes, “Quantum Eraser” is a solid start, but turns out to be a bit of a red herring as the extreme vocals disappear the rest of the way.
“Death is the Portal” is another long song – hell, they’re all long – and for much of Cosmic Man it does sound remarkably similar to Hammers of Misfortune, with maybe a touch of Torche stylings thrown in. Fogarty sings and plays all the instruments, and excels the most on his Hammond organ, which brings some 70s stylings to the record. Overall the feel of Cosmic Man is a mashup of 70s Deep Purple hard rock, 80s NWOBHM, and a lot of psychedelia. The combination is engaging, and despite the songs averaging over six minutes apiece, they’re well written such that we generally don’t want to skip ahead out of boredom. I love “Neon Ghoul Ride,” with its fuzzed-out Leslie cabinet blaring organ notes throughout to heavy chugging riffs and spaced-out vocals, and the instrumental “Space Horse” kicks ass in a way not a lot of instrumentals do.
I mentioned two pet peeves of mine that Fogarty commits here, the first being an annoying intro song. The second is the use of Native American whooping in the weak “Thief in the Sky,” a song that could have easily been left on the cutting room floor. Even if the song is about white man’s atrocities in the settlement of North America, the chants in the opening and the bridge are gratuitous. Another song I have mixed feelings about is the album closer, a cover of Iron Maiden’s “Two Minutes to Midnight.” I love Maiden, and the cover is refreshing, with an organ solo being a cool feature, but Fogarty can’t sing the song. I have a love/hate feeling for the result – but I do keep listening to it.
These nitpicks are more than offset by excellent production and musicianship, and overall stellar songwriting. I found myself coming back to Cosmic Man even when I was supposed to be listening to other review promos, which is a good sign. The more I listened to it, the closer it came to a 3.5, but it just couldn’t quite get there. Nevertheless, a great comeback record for Ewigkeit. Fogarty has done well: Cosmic Man is certainly relevant.