With his prodigious technique and deep knowledge of theory and composition, Evan Brewer could thrive in any genre. For the most part, however, the 34-year-old virtuoso prefers to dwell in the deepest depths of metal. And since he’s made a name for himself with his previous bands, Animosity and the Faceless, and he’s released two solo albums, it’s only natural that Brewer’s latest project, Entheos, is his most brutal, technically challenging, and sonically jarring outfit yet. The all-star lineup also includes drummer Navene Koperweis, guitarist Frank Costa, and vocalist Chaney Crabb.
Entheos’ debut, The Infinite Nothing, finds Brewer matching the drums fill-for-fill and the guitars riff-for-riff with his slapping. His bass hustle serves as the album’s backbone, although his tapping work on “New Light” and his odd-time groove acrobatics on “Neural Damage” stand out amidst even the heaviest surroundings.
How did you approach the bass for this recording?
As in most metal, most of the songs originated from guitar ideas. I record my bass parts after all the drums and guitars are completely done so I can adhere to what’s going on with them. I have a good idea of what I’m going to do, but once I get the final drum take and I can get all of the nuances, that’s when I finish my writing. The drums are going to dictate more of what I’m doing, because I like to match fills and link up with different things based on exactly what was recorded, down to every little detail.
What challenged you most about creating this album?
In this band, it’s always been a two-part challenge. The first challenge is memorizing the music—there are so many different riffs that are linear and don’t repeat often, and it’s very technical. The next challenge is figuring out how to put my style over the songs and infuse them together. I’m not approaching this from a traditional metal-bass approach, where you just play the low notes along with the drums and mirror what the guitar is doing. So the hardest parts are memorizing and digesting the basic riffs and then figuring out ways to divert from them.
You slap for most of this album. Describe your technique.
I strike down through the string, and I’m playing in what I call an “underhand” position. You’ll see a guy like Flea slapping with his thumb essentially pointed down to the floor, and I call that “overhand” position. Marcus Miller, Louis Johnson, and Larry Graham play in the underhand position, which is what I use. That enables me to strike individual strings. When I played overhand, I had a hard time hitting the exact string I wanted to hit. By striking through the string, I’m able to control everything.
What is your ideal bass tone?
There’s no one singular tone I’m looking for. For my solo stuff, I’m going into a territory that’s completely different because I’m not supporting a band, and I’m having the bass function in multiple ways. In the Faceless, I didn’t do any slapping at all, so I had a completely smooth, midrangey, almost fusiony tone, because that’s what I felt fit. In Entheos, I’m doing almost all slapping, so I use a “scooped” tone. You find your identity in what you’re doing, but you do the right thing for the specific project. I’m not going to go into a smooth jazz gig and turn on my overdrive and start slapping. To me, there’s no one definitive bass tone.
Entheos, The Infinite Nothing [2016, Artery]
Bass Warwick Thumb NT 5-string, Sandberg PM5 Custom 5-string
Amp Aguilar Tone Hammer 500, Aguilar SL 410x 4x10
Pedals Aguilar TLC Compressor, Tech 21 SansAmp Bass Driver, Two Notes Torpedo C.A.B. Speaker Simulator, MXR M81 Bass Preamp
Strings Dunlop Super Bright Mediums (.045–.105)