Everdawn – Cleopatra
Reviewed: February 2021
Released: 2021, The Laser’s Edge
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
With the onset of every new year, I find myself binging on a steady diet of traditional, symphonic, and power metal albums. I don’t remember when it started or why, but I like to chalk it up as a psychological palate cleanser for all of the doom and discordance that fills my earholes for most of the calendar year. The cerebral slate and enduring cynicism gets wiped clean, allowing for a full mental reconnect with the purity of heavy metal. And in that process, I typically stumble into a few surprisingly good albums that otherwise wouldn’t have gotten a second look. Exhibit A – CLEOPATRA, from New Jersey’s Everdawn.
Formerly operating as Midnight Eternal, CLEOPATRA is the first release under the new Everdawn moniker. The outfit delivers a pretty competent brand of female fronted symphonic metal that isn’t that far removed from the likes of Delain or Sirenia. Soaring operatic vocals, heavy duty orchestration and a general vibe of too much is never enough permeate throughout CLEOPATRA’s 11 tracks with abundance. A concept album of sorts based on the namesake last Ptolemaic pharaoh of ancient Egypt, you don’t need to be a history scholar to enjoy CLEOPATRA, but the sheer magnitude of arrangements and musical scale require some endurance.
Most of the tunes follow a common blueprint of big, declarative riffs that gallop and chug as if their lives depend on it balanced against Alina Gavrilenko’s otherworldly vocal range, and then smothered with synth work and orchestral machinations. Truth be told, I usually tend to find this much keyboard work distracting, but the way it’s deployed across CLEOPATRA is pretty smooth – it’s always present, but the presentation works to support the overall songs in way that you don’t realize that it’s always present.
But it all comes down to the songs, right? And that’s the other beautiful thing about CLEOPATRA; it’s filled with a lot of great songs. “Stranded In Bangalore” works on its own as a power metal anthem with a sing-a-long chorus, “Your Majesty Sadness” is an epic power ballad (and features a duet with Therion/ex-Candlemass vocalist Thomas Vikström), and “Rider of the Storm” sweats with some AOR-era Malmsteen vibes. And “Lucid Dream” and the swooning title track allow Gavrilenko to full show off her chops and hit some ridiculously high vocal notes. As a collective body of work, I’ve enjoyed the hell out of CLEOPATRA and absolutely love the fact that the same state that gave us Overkill and the Misfits can also breed bands like Everdawn. If you prefer your metal with an abundance of pomp and revelry, Everdawn is sure to be a crowd pleaser.