Originally written by Tim Pigeon
I’ve been anticipating this album for a long time. Evergrey blew me away with their last opus, In Search of Truth, a concept album dealing with alien abductions.
I’ve always felt that Evergrey was a criminally underrated band, so hopefully this album, as well as US festival appearances this year, will generate the success that they deserve. While Evergrey hail from that breeding pit of metal, Gothenburg, Sweden, there isn’t any melodic death here. What you get is exquisite power/prog metal played with intensity and passion. Evergrey always manages to do a lot with a little. They create powerful atmospheres and soulful songs without drowning the listener in show-off virtuosity. Not that I’m criticizing the band, as they are extremely capable musicians, but they know when to sacrifice the wankery for the sake of the song.
The production fits the album well, although the guitars get buried at times, such as in the first 40 seconds of “Visions.” Tom Englund delivers a phenomenal vocal performance here, complimented by the standout drumming of Patrick Carlsson. Apparently the band has switched keyboardists for this album, so I can’t find his/her name, but unsurprisingly, the keys are stellar and very prevalent. Henrik Danhage’s guitar and Mikael Hakansson’s bass bring the crunch that rounds out the Evergrey sound.
“The Great Deceiver” bursts out of the gate with a flourish of keys/guitar melody and rapid-fire drumming. The middle of the song brings a choppy riff backed up by eerie keys and haunting vocals, then back to the speed. One of their heaviest and best tracks. “End of Your Days” is standard Evergrey. “As I Lie Here Bleeding” kills, with Englund showing his range, lengthy solos, and heavy riffs. The title track is nothing short of fantastic. It starts off fast and hard, and then slows right down with a bass-driven verse and uplifting chorus. At 2:25 we’re treated to an incredible solo. A long, slow instrumental passage, then the chorus, and synth keys close it out. Who said metal couldn’t be beautiful?
I could go on and on, but each track has its great moments. “Visions” races through with speed and crunch. “Fragments” features more majestic melody and shows that Evergrey plays the slow and doomy game as well as anyone. “Madness Caught Another Victim” and the bonus track “Trilogy of the Damned” (a medley of three older songs) adds acoustic guitars to their arsenal. “Your Darkest Hour” (why does every band name a song by this title?) has an enchanting piano piece, and yet another solid vocal chorus. Who would’ve guessed?
In summary, Evergrey rules. If you’re a fan of moving, emotional, well-played music, then rush out to the store and pick this up! It’s definitely top 10 material in my eyes.