It has of lately come to my knowledge that Evergrey’s later albums are a bit of a watershed among their fan-base. Why that is, I’m not really sure of as to me, Evergrey have always sounded like Evergrey. Not that they are on repeat at all, but they do have their own sound and identity and you could spot an Evergrey-song in seconds miles away. It seems like for the fans that discovered the band from day one, their later releases aren’t up to match with their earlier (est) efforts. I wasn’t a fan since day one, I discovered the band with 2003’s Recreation Day and even though I dug the album – and every release after that – I never became a huge fan. I liked the band and that’s it. It would take me up to 2011 and Glorious Collision, one of their most disputed albums ever, to get it and from that moment on, things have just gotten better and better.
Hymns For The Broken (2014) was another leap forward and 2016’s The Storm Within is a damn masterpiece in my book. And this is where I can spot said watershed. Reading on different forums and blogs, some totally loves the new stuff while some thinks that the band has been on downward spiral for some time now, something I can’t get my head around. To me, Evergrey has never been better than they are now. What I found out with the release of the new album is that the three latest albums forms some kind of trilogy – which makes sense by looking at the cover-art – but I’m not really sure about what connects them lyrically. Google and you shall find. Maybe. But what I do know is that after two stunning albums in a row, my expectations on the new one is up above the clouds.
Opener “A Silent Arc” is at around eight minutes a monster of a track. It opens in a heavy, dark and aggressive way with beats and riffing that sends a nod towards Black Metal. It slows down after a while into a more doomy, Black Sabbath-like gloom before it blasts away again into brutality. The song also continues passages that are even laid-back and some more plain Hard Rock sounding but everything in the song creates a bleak and anguished sound-scape, all within the frames of the Evergrey sound. And this, folks, is the leading single. It might not stick by first listen but when it sticks, man does it stick. Thanks for the brilliant punch, guys! “Weightless” is heavy, punchy and in-your-face for starters but turns into a more straight-forward bouncer with a more hook-laden main melody, so it might be more appropriate as a single. It’s still dark and somewhat cinematic with a refrain that’s almost tranquil but also holds lots of catchiness. Killer!
Evergrey gets into ballad mode with “All I Have”. It’s in slow pace but still heavy, dark and desolate and at times even subdued. It might be the closest Evergrey has ever been to a power ballad but there’s no cheese or syrup to be found here. It’s heartfelt and passionate and it really gets under my skin – a stunning track! “A Secret Atlantis” is hard, robust and powerful. It’s a Metal track that lurks around Thrash territory but it’s still quite bombastic and big with all of Tom S Englund’s trademark vocal-melodies. It’s punchy and rough yet melodic and memorable – and the keyboard solo reminds me of Tony Carey while in Rainbow. Brilliant! “The Tidal” is more of an intermission of electronica, atmospheric in a way that brings sci-fi movie soundtracks to mind. And it works splendidly as a transport to the next track.
Which is “End Of Silence”, a dark and saturnine rocker on a heavy foundation and some crunchy riffs. It’s also laid-back and even soft at times and holds a fabulous piano arrangement which brings a dynamic contrast to the punch and power of the tune itself. It’s also the latest single/video. Great stuff. “Currents” is another uptempo rocker that’s more straight-forward on simpler, plain Hard Rock structure with some elegant melodies that almost touches Melodic Rock. That said, it’s hardly any radio-flirting we have here, it’s still a heavy number but more direct and hook-laden. Very good. “”Departure” is slower and more earthy and brings on the piano to the front and the acoustic guitars also brings on a different approach here, all of which contrasts masterfully to the heavy rhythm and the groovy bass-line beneath it, something that brings Classic Rock to mind and changes the dynamics. I have never heard Evergrey like this before and I love it.
“The Beacon” serves us some major heaviness but also a synth that brings on a cold, sterile and industrial sound. But at the same time it’s dramatic and groove-laden with some brilliant melodies ensconced in the darkness that brings an erratic vibe to the song. It’s a rowdy stomper, but with sounds of acrimony and also a very memorable main melody and a refrain that really catches on – very good. They close the record with “This Ocean”, a bouncy, heavy and aggressive piece that’s really in your face, going for the throat. It holds a Metal groove with cocksure punch, it’s dark and sinister with a cinematic ambiance – and it never loses any memorable melodies. As a closer, this is song is perfect as it leaves the listener (me) wanting more – which in turn makes want to take it from the start once more.
Quality-wise when it comes to the songs, this album lands somewhere between Hymns For The Broken and The Storm Within – another brilliant record in other words. As a whole, this record is something of a contrast in itself. It’s one of the heaviest and darkest albums they have ever made with lots of brutality and aggression but at the same time it’s probably their catchiest as well. The record contains loads of memorable melodies, hooks and catchy choruses – which is not to say that there are cheesy elements waved in because that’s not the case at all. Musically, the record might need a few spins to stick but when it does, it sure bloody sticks. It’s both quite direct and a grower. What early-day fans will think of it needs to be seen and time will tell but for me, this album is almost up their with its predecessor. The Storm Within is still my favorite but this one’s sure breathing down its neck.
More Evergrey reviews:
1. A Silent Arc
3. All I Have
4. A Secret Atlantis
5. The Tidal
6. End Of Silence
9. The Beacon
10. This Ocean