Devah Quartet is back and more ambitious than ever. Continuing on the footsteps of their last release 2112, Prometheus is packed with a behemoth 33 minute progressive epic, a song about Joan of Arc, a few radio friendly songs and a tribute to Tool. Devah Quartet is a group that defies categorization. They are classical by the nature of their instruments- it’s a string quartet after all. They are prog rock due to their influences and lengthy structure and lyric matter. They are heavy. They are quiet. They are masters of their instruments. But above all, they are simply an amazing group that demands your attention. If you want to hear these songs on our world premier show, check out this link to Wanderings and Woolgathering on YouTube. Or wait until August 1 to hear the official versions.
Grain of Sand is the first track on the double album. This one kicks off with a cool groove laid down by cellist Liza McLellan and drummer Mack Longpre. The violins fill in the background making this one feel full. In typical Devah fashion, the breakdowns are filled with heavy strokes from Liza on cello and violins complementing and expanding the song. Liza takes a turn on vocals for this one- Not something she felt entirely comfortable doing in the past, but she does an outstanding job. At four minutes long, I could imagine this one on the radio. It’s super catchy.
Lateralus is a cover of Tool’s Lateralus, the title track to their 2001 album of the same name. This version is entirely done within the context of a four piece string ensemble. There are no vocals, but a beautiful reworking of the original. Like their work with Rush’s 2112, McLellan manages to rework the song in a new and interesting way while paying 100% fidelity to the original. You know it’s the same song, it’s unmistakeable, but this version feels fresh and new. Please pay attention to the 7:04 mark. The song drops and Liza kills it with her deep cello groove. NOT TO BE MISSED!
Prometheus is Devah’s most ambitious song to date. It comes in at a whopping 33 minutes and eight seconds. It is broken into seven parts: I. Overture, II. Drifting / Touched with Fire / The Voice, III. the Gift: Cursed with Knowledge, IV. Early Warning / The Asteroid, V. No Time for Caution / See the Pattern / Listen, VI. Launch / Sudden Impact / Dying Day, VII. Deus Ex / Believe. Songs like this can be daunting for listeners who have limited attention or only feel comfortable with radio friendly fare. The listener should look at this as an experience- a musical story or poem. Singing on this one is David Michael Moote. He has a huge voice, similar to what you might hear on Broadway.
Prometheus begins with a long intro, the movement and short strokes on violin and cello give the impression of going on a journey. From there we get a tempo and tonal change leading into our first vocals at the five minute mark. It’s here that we meet David, a listless man wandering through life. Cleverly, he is linked to Don Quixote through “Tilting at Windmills” as David has demons that are not real. It furthers the idea that David is lost and struggling mentally. In the background of this part, there is an “otherwordly” sound. It gives the impression that change is on the way. It’s the classic adventure where someone, seemingly insignificant, must answer the call. David must die to his current self and become something entirely new whether physically or metaphorically- a savior.
Then comes the asteroid, which brings up all kinds of questions about the state of man and our place in the world. What is David’s role? Is there anything that can be done? When Prometheus arrives, is he here to burn the world down or ignite the fire within our protagonist? Can we highlight our problems to solve them, “paint it white?” Will belief save us? How do we react in the face of impending doom? Or, is this simply a drama playing out in the mind of David? There are no easy answers, but it’s delivered in a nifty package of strings. You will have to listen to see how it all plays out- no spoilers here.
Each of the seven movements has a distinct musical change. The music matches the lyrics thematically and induces the proper reaction in the listener. There are minimal effects throughout the song, but there are some atmospheric keyboard/synth touches in Dying Day. The piano-esque sound hits the mood. Following that is a beautiful instrumental that paints a somber picture- all sad, slow strings. It’s a nice respite from the intensity that preceded and the “shattering fragments” in the sky that follow.
There is no doubt; this song takes effort. It’s long, it’s intricate and it’s thought-provoking. Your effort is definitely rewarded. Prometheus is bursting with excellent musicianship, structure and lyrics. Listen close- you’ll be glad you did.