Animals as Leaders
YouTube solo bassists
4. Altered Perspective One
5. Altered Perspective Two
7. The Decline
9. Looking West
10. A Climate for Change
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Evan Brewer is undoubtedly one of the most talented and articulate bass players in the metal community today. When I first saw him play with deathcore outfit Animosity in 2007, my 14 year old self was blown away at how effortlessly he switched between his fingers, a pick, his thumb, and both hands. Coming from a musical background made up of Animals as Leaders members Navene Koperweis and Tosin Abasi, as well as Victor Wooten’s guitarist brother Regi, it should come as no surprise that Brewer is stepping out on his own.
Alone is his first solo endeavor, featuring 10 songs and sounds only produced by bass guitar. As he has stated in promotions for the album, the bass is a very young instrument, leaving many areas of its sound unexplored. Bassists as band leaders are nothing new, but very rarely has the instrument been explored this openly and at the forefront of compositions. Armed with an array of effects, Brewer uses heavily modified tones and slap techniques to produce basic percussive elements in place of drums. He also makes use of lo-fi white noise to fill empty space and backmasking to provide different perspectives for certain pieces to round out his own sound.
Each song has a unique personality, which instigated a sigh of relief on my part. As a bass player myself, the idea of an entire album made up of the instrument made me slightly hesitant. Tracks like “Degenerate” show off a nasty set of grooves that show the Wooten family influence, while the “Altered Perception” duo has a smooth jazz feel that really benefits from the all-bass approach. The album doesn’t come off as over-indulgent, pretentious, or any other negative adjective that could come to mind thanks to Evan’s extensive musical background. His technique is ridiculous, and his library of tricks offers many to exploit, which he does on every track. His songwriting isn’t on the same level, but it’s strong enough to steer the album away from falling into a technique experiment. For instance, noodling with faux-jazz 7th chords is one of my favorite time-killers, but they don’t hold much ground on a bass. Brewer uses them tastefully and keeps the album at a respectable 27 minutes so as to not fall into a rut in either playing or songwriting.
Alone ends up tastefully produced, technically impressive, and a fun release as a whole. As typical with the young Sumerian crowd, this will receive tons of praise, especially from bassists who feel underappreciated and revel in metal standouts. It isn’t groundbreaking by any means, but it is a unique release and has something for everyone who enjoys musical virtuosity. I can recommend this album to any bass player, any musician, any fan of progressive music, and just about anyone into metal. Evan Brewer goes on tour with Animals as Leaders and Intronaut next month. Check him out.