I have been a fan of this band since their inception so all albums that Evergrey have released have been a pure blind purchase for me (including the debut). They basically came out at a time (1998) when I was losing faith in the music world. At the time, the Industrial metal movement was at its peak and Nu-Metal was starting to rise. Grunge morphed into Alternative and punk became a commercial viable product again thanks to Green Day and Offspring.
Somewhere in between all of that noise came Evergrey. Even though the lyrical issues were dark, the band gave me hope that good music is still being created. Back in 1998, it was the era of the gatekeeper. So in Australia, we got a lot of music from the latest bandwagon the major labels jumped on. Evergrey’s music was available as an expensive import however I took the punt on it.
And to this day I have not been disappointed with an Evergrey release. The fan base is devoted and loyal to them. With each passing year now, Evergrey is being discovered by a whole new generation of fans and yes this “discovery” has a lot to do with piracy, which is seeing the band go from strength to strength. Indeed, I am a fan for life.
One thing that has been ever-present in Evergrey is Tom Englund on vocals and guitar. He has been there since the start, which goes back to 1995. Rikard Zander on keyboards joined in 2002 and has been a loyal servant to the Evergrey cause since then. Henrik Danhage joined in 2000 and by 2010 he departed/was let go to focus on the DeathDestruction project. Jonas Ekdahl first tenure in Evergrey was from 2003 to 2010 and then he also departed/was let go to also focus on DeathDestruction. Bassist Johan Niemann is a newbie since 2010.
Isn’t it funny how life works. If Henrik and Jonas didn’t leave back in 2010, Evergrey would not be here today. It was a massive decision back then by Tom. And the thing is if Jonas and Henrik didn’t return in 2013, Evergrey would not be here today. The “Hymns For The Broken” project started back in October 2013 and wrapped in May 2014. As a loyal fan, it is good to see all of a sudden everyone all over the world getting into Evergrey and understanding what they are about.
“King Of Errors”
After the spoken word prelude of “The Awakening”, the thought-provoking single “King Of Errors” explodes out of the speakers. Then the verse riff kicks in. That is one for the head bangers. Melodic metal at its best. These Swedes sure know how to blow our doors off right off the top, grabbing our attention and keeping it.
“We are crowned by our errors
And we’re lost and alone”
So true. In any occupation and in any situation, as soon as you stuff up, people take notice. Do great things all the time and no one notices. Henrik Danhage is back with his unique style of Euro Shred. Another unsung hero in the world of guitar heroes.
The video is breathtaking, explaining how the band is on top of the world in one shot and then you see Englund drowning in the river of doubt. A perfect example of how we try to portray ourselves as kings on social media. I have said it a lot of times to anyone who cares. How come nobody posts pictures when they are feeling sad? Every picture is happy, which we all know is a god damn lie.
“A New Dawn”
The song is addictive with its modern metal grooves. The keys are there as well, present from beginning to the end. By the third song, you can hear the benefits of a super high quality mix. It is way more professional and crisper than their last couple albums. Great chorus and how good are the latin-esq voices.
Then the breakdown interlude bridge section mellows down with the piano taking the lead. However the song is still rocking.
“Wake A Change”
Like “Back In Black”, “Dr Feelgood”, “Images and Words” and all those classic long players, the album keeps going, sounding different from cut to cut, but still demanding attention.
A change in groove. There’s no fat, just pure melodic progressive rock and metal. Easily it is one of the best songs about social media ever written and recorded. This one is another Evergrey anthem driven by Rikard’s atmospheric style of keys. Plus the mix is top-notch.
“These shells have lost the capacity to hope and be free”
The shells’ are the external layer. It is what people see. And if we allow ourselves to conform to some unachievable standard than the internal self-will disappear as well.
“We rise from ashes and stone
Cause who I am to you does not reflect the truth”
What people see on someone’s’ Facebook’s account is not a real reflection of who they are. So much truth in those words.
Imagine a kid growing up today and they have this ideal of perfect lives all around thanks to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. And these kids are not feeling that perfection, that happiness they see all around them. So they feel isolated. But they are not alone in their feelings. Thousands of others feel the same way. The spoken samples sum it up.
“You are not alone……you will never walk this path alone….there are thousands and thousands of people just like you……”
From the 3 minute mark, love the whole Iron Maiden style solo section. Goose bumps.
A nod to the sound of the day, but for some reason Evergrey still makes it melodic and dark. Rickard has really gone out on a limb here with some great keys playing. It’s got all the classic Evergrey elements, each band member integral to the perfected sound. And Jonas provides a pounding beat.
You need to hear it to appreciate the various soloing on offer from pure Al DiMeola shred to a jazzy/blues section before it picks up again.
It’s dark yet hopeful and what about the heavy riffing and the nod to the progressive influences.
Speaking of Tom, there’s a reason why he’s one of my favourite vocalists. This song is all about the vocal, the urgency, the sadness and the depression. Listening to this makes you forget about the rest of the world, makes you believe that in the black darkness of the undertow there is always hope. You just need to survive the trip to the destination.
“Hymns for the Broken”
“Reach out, show me how that you feel the same
Scream loud these hymns are for the broken”
Another incredible vocal. It’s amazing how consistently good the songs are. No filler, just winners. One thing about Evergrey is that they always stayed true to the core audience. All of their songs have an element of struggle in them and as fans of the band, we have gone through the same stuff that they have. That is their core and Evergrey has served us well.
“The Grand Collapse”
The next video and one of the most progressive songs on the album. Best of all, the seven minute track does not conform to any predictable structure. In essence, it’s a clear return to a style that Evergrey found success with in the past and nailing it on your own terms, and this does! Listen to the guitar work and you’ll know you’re in the presence of something special. At track number 11, Evergrey are shining light on an era when it was all about the album cuts.
When the history of progressive metal is written…Tom Englund and Henrik Danhage will be left out. Spread the word to ensure that they are not missed out.
The ‘Aftermath’ is one of the songs that just has this epic-ness vibe to it. The acoustic atmospherics nail it. It’s a mood and its human. In a world were everything is written to a formula it is good to hear a track that takes you away to some other place. THIS SOUNDS LIKE THAT!
Oh, it’s all good, the groove, the guitar, the bass, the vocal, the keys. But for a track to be indelible it must have a magical element. And in “The Aftermath” it’s the break, at the three-minute and twenty-second mark…
My only complaint is that the album is not on Spotify at this point in time. If you want your voice heard all over the world you need to release to all formats. That is what the internet is all about, reaching out immediately. For Evergrey, their core fan base would mobilise and buy the physical album. I did. So withholding it from Spotify is a mistake. And maybe back in the day it was easier to sell albums with gated windows however today it is all about access.
In the end, Evergrey have released a stunning album. The “WHY” factor is there. By continuing the band when there wasn’t sufficient reason for doing so has inspired and mobilised the fans to see the journey out with them.