Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Evergrey Compendium

Evergrey.

What a cool name for a band!

Tom and Dan Nojd the original bassist came up with the name after they saw their life and situation as always grey. Everything seemed to be forever grey. The logo and the artwork remind me more of a black metal band, which is the yin and the yang because musically Evergrey are melodic and progressive.

To anyone that is prepared to listen to me, Evergrey is one band that I continually try to spread the word for. Just recently I was asked to give a few people a list of the Top 10 songs from my point of view. At first I relished the challenge and then I struggled with it. Evergrey are 16 years into their career and nine albums deep. If you take the average 10 songs per album, there is a pool of 90 or so songs to pick from. Also for a band that hails from Sweden their Spotify presence is not huge so I needed to bring out the good old CD’s and YouTube.

Well after spending a week playing a John Kalodner style role with the music of Evergrey, here is the sequenced list just like they would be on that imaginary album in my head.

The Masterplan

Evergrey was started in 1995 by Tom Englund and former guitar-player Dan Bronell. By the time 2001 rolled around their career had been moving up. There was a fan base to please when they set about creating their third album.

The tone is set with the tape recorder spoken intro.

“I have decided to keep this tape recorder with me at all times, just so that I maybe one day can explain all the strange things happening to me.
The lack of sleep…the loss of time. But most of all, the sensation of never being lonely…always being watched…”

“The Masterplan” is from the 2001 concept album “In Search Of Truth”. On hand again to produce was former King Diamond guitarist Andy La Rocque. How good is that 7/8 syncopated intro? This is Evergrey in Progressive Metal territory.

We are all a part of
Forced to live within
Conspiracy for ages
The masterplan

The vocal melody and the frantic energy of the music seals the deal.

This was a new Evergrey from the previous two albums that came before “In Search Of Truth”. Founder Tom S Englund and hard-hitting drummer Patrick Carlsson welcomed a new keyboard player in Sven Karlsson and a new bass player in Michael Håkansson. Both of them came from the band Embraced. And then there was the new guitar virtuoso from Denmark, Henrik Danhage.

Changes happen in bands because it is hard to have people hat are just not putting in the same effort as to what the others put in. That is why bands make decisions at certain points in time. They all want to have people around them that have the same drive and goals as them.

Broken Wings
From “Torn” released in 2008 and this time Evergrey is dabbling in heavy rock.

For this album, gone is the huge stage presence of bassist Michael Håkansson and in his place comes Jari Kainulainen from Stratovarius.

And if you look at the 2001 version of the band, also gone is keyboardist Sven Karlssonn who was replaced in 2001 by Christian Rehn and Rehn was then replaced by Rikard Zander in 2002. Other changes that happened involved the departure of Patrick Carlsson on drums, who was replaced by Jonas Ekdahl in 2003.

I came so close that I felt the flames
I came so close that I’ll never be safe again
I’d give anything to find a way to leave the fear and evacuate

The flame inspires so many different meanings. We feel the flames when we don’t heed or listen to the advice of others. Icarus failed to heed or listen to his father and flew too close to the sun. In life and in relationships, we always want to see the good in people. We always believe that we can help people. And then we come full circle when the people that we believed we liked or helped turn on us.

King Of Errors
Evergrey released “Glorious Collision” in 2011. Awards, certifications and praise followed after the release however the band was about to be broken again with the departures of Van Dahl and Jidell after only a short time with the band. Englund wanted to call time. However a commitment to play a few festival shows led to an unexpected return and a the possibility of a new future.

“King of Errors” is from the new one, “Hymns For The Broken” released this year. The band now is normal mainstay Tom Englund on vocals and guitar. Rikard Zander is still on keys along with Johan Niemann who joined in 2010 on bass, while Henrik Danhage and Jonas Ekdahl rejoined the band again.

“They call us kings
Then watch us fall down broken”

For some reason, we are all attracted to a story of someone high-profile crashing and burning. For some it is seen as a bittersweet “sucked in” story while others see it as a tragedy. In our personal lives, the kings could be our parents, our partners, a certain friend or a work colleague. And normally when “our kings” crash and burn, we just watch.

I watched my cousin, a person who I looked up to immensely and who also introduced me to metal and rock music “crash and burn” as he struggled with bi-polar and schizophrenia. I just didn’t know how to deal with it and decided it was best to just watch him fall down broken.

Soaked

Also from “Torn” released in 2008.

My chest is open
My heart’s on the ground
My bare feet soaked in my blood
As I leave you without a sound

The vocals are straight up.

What a way to start the song?

“Soaked” is a pure metal gem that a lot more people need to hear and digest.

Haven’t you had that feeling in a relationship?

You feel like you have given the relationship everything that you have and it just wasn’t enough. All that is left is to walk away however you never really walk away, as a little piece of you still remains rooted there, like your heart or your blood.

Frozen
The frantic opening kicks off this beauty from the “Glorious Collision” album released in 2011. Another album, another new band dynamic, however due to the monolith that is known as Tom Englund, it is still EVERGREY.

This time around the band consists of Tom Englund on vocals and guitars, Rikard Zander on keys, Johan Niemann on bass along with new additions Marcus Jidell on guitar and Hannes Van Dahl on drums, who came on board to replace Danhage and Ekdahl who left to focus on DeathDestruction.

If we took time to contemplate
The years have passed and now it’s late
Much too late to compensate
The loss that made me frozen

Knowing what we know about the departure of Ekdahl and Danhage, you cant help but feel that the lyrics are about Englund’s emotional state after the departure. Even though they posted that it had to happen to preserve the friendships, there is still a sense of loss and with time, the loss can grow deeper or it can be forgotten.

A Touch Of Blessing
From “The Inner Circle” album released in 2004. You can interchange “The Masterplan” chorus with this one.

Climbing walls of an endless circle
Walking paths you never heard of
Struggling in an endless battle
Searching far for a higher purpose
Drowning in betrayal’s river
The freezing cold will make you shiver
Join the world of greater learning
Crown me king and be my servants

That whole verse vocal melody just reminds me of Maynard from Tool.  Even though the song is part of a concept story about religious cults, that verse just sums up so many different aspects of normal everyday life.

Fear
Another metal classic from the “Torn” album released in 2008. It was like they started fresh again after “Monday Morning Apocalypse”. The “Torn” album to me has three bona-fide metal classics in “Broken Wings”, “Soaked” and “Fear”.

If I could I’d crown myself each day
If I could I’d let myself know I’m okay
If I could I’d throw myself into the flames

I don’t know about you, but I keep my inner fears close to me. So when you see another soul, talk about the same feelings, a connection is made instantly. In 2008, I was going through this fear.

You
“You” is a head banger type of song, purely built for the live show. It is also from the excellent “Glorious Collision” released in 2011.

I wear these marks of shame
Not with pride my head’s held low

History tells me that the people who wore the marks of shame are the persecuted ones and I don’t want to persecute myself mentally anymore. Life is all about mistakes and learning from them, however to others life is about mistakes and then making those people wear those mistakes like marks of shame.

And if weakness is a virtue
And an act of strength a pride
Then I am king and misery’s my empire

So many feelings and emotions.

Archaic Rage

Also from the current album, “Hymns For The Broken”.

‘Cause who I am to you does not reflect the truth

A brilliant lyric. I always keep a little bit of who I am to myself. I call it flexing my style to suit my surroundings. The only problem with that is when I explode, it is never pretty.

Dark Waters

Englund read a book called “Communion” by Whitley Strieber and the book affected him very deeply that he decided to base the concept story on the basic feelings and fears of the character in the book .

This song is a guilty pleasure for me. It is also from the 2001 concept album “In Search Of Truth”. It’s got so many different emotions and movements, that it still stands up as a great song, years later. From about 3.30 the song kicks into gear. It is heavy, then it comes down to a ballad like instrumental movement and it starts to build up again. It just keeps on rolling and rocking.

Deprived of all pride
I’ve been stripped of all value

Welcome to the Evergrey world.

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