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The Storm Within

“When we were making this album a lot of these relationship issues were going on around me; people losing a partner or a loved one and grieving. The Storm Within is about a search for identity, trying to make yourself full when you feel half empty, and I placed that storyline in an interstellar world.”
Tom Englund – Evergrey 

Before I left Australia, I pre-ordered the CD via Amazon. And of course, the album came out while I was in a country where I couldn’t obtain it legally. So I went to the pirate sites and downloaded it.

What else could I do?

I couldn’t wait.

Does that justify downloading the album illegally?

Of course not, but if I could have purchased it legally at the time I would have, even if that meant having two copies of the album.

And people need to understand, all we care about is where can I find the music, in a fast, convenient and cheap way. I am listening to the album on Spotify non-stop in Australia and the CD is still in its wrapping, a collector’s item.

Evergrey is one of those bands that connects musically and lyrically with me. Vocalist/Guitarist and founder, Tom Englund has a unique voice and his vocal phrasing is different to the normal progressive melodic metal singers who are either David Coverdale, Bruce Dickinson or Rob Halford. And for 20 years, Englund has kept Evergrey going, building on the loyal following, one fan at a time.

Dissonant piano chords start this song off. When the syncopated guitars, bass and drums kick under a math rock vibe, I’m ready to break stuff. Then the vocal melody kicks in and those same dissonant piano chords are back.

Distance is taking me to new places.

It was the second song written for the album and the vibe of the song caught the attention of the band. Along with the song “Disconnect”, the tone and feel of the album was set in stone. According to vocalist and guitarist Tom Englund, the desolation inspiration came from a French electronic band called “M83”.

It’s not over
We’ll soon be closer than before
Can’t let this distance
Keep our destined souls apart

Relationships are difficult to maintain. Our needs change as we get older. Our tastes change. Pressures of family and work lead to further changes and suddenly those promises of being together forever seem so far away.

And that math rock desolate dissonant vibe is hooking me in even more. Of course it had to be a Swedish band that commercialised math metal.

So many times when I was misunderstood
I just wish we had spoken so much sooner

Life is funny in hindsight and sometimes painful to replay. We all would love to live with no “what if’s” however it never happens that way.

“Passing Through”
It was one of the last songs written for the album.

According to the Spotify commentary, the inspiration came from guitarist Henrik Danhage. It was he who came up with a guitar melody that was then converted into the main keyboard melody during the intro.

The label heads wanted this to be the first single from the album. To me it’s a straightforward rock song with some power metal vibes incorporated and a pretty cool listen.

Ten years from now I’ll watch from far away
Ten years from now I might have found my way
Ten years from now I’ll see through different eyes
Better, wiser and not as blind

There is a reason why artists normally produce their best works after they have experienced life, the highs and the lows. One thing that’s certain is ten years from now we are wiser and not as blind. It doesn’t mean we don’t make mistakes, far from it. It just means we don’t have that same innocence of our youth.

I always looked for acceptance
I understood what it’s like to be different

Growing up I was looking for acceptance from my peers about how cool I was. To show how cool I was, I wrote a letter on behalf of my father that demanded his son be demoted to the lower classes, so I could be with my friends. Looking back, it was the dumbest decision I ever did, however I was so cool to do it, because I didn’t want to be called a nerd. While the majority of people grinded away in high school to get into a good college/university, I did the opposite. And those same friends I wanted acceptance from are nowhere to be seen in my life right now.

Then I finished school and entered the workforce and I’m looking for acceptance from my bosses or workmates. And then I got married and I’m meeting new people and looking for acceptance from those people.

For Evergrey, they are still looking for acceptance. Even though they are 20 years into their career, they are still a fringe artist when it comes to the mainstream, making a living from the loyal cult like following of their fans.

The main riff is written by drummer Jonas Eklund and how good is it. At first Jonas drums it exactly the same as the riff and then he goes into overdrive with a build that leads into the verses.

The lyrics ask the question if you had a chance to do certain things the same way, would you.

I was once like you
Used to be like you
Embrace the same horizons
And shared the setting suns

Tom Englund always grabs me and pulls me down the rabbit hole with his lyrics. It’s like those words came from me. I remember

The chorus was taken from an old Tom Englund song and the key change from the verse to the chorus almost killed the song off. With toil came great reward.

This is not for me
I can’t persist or breathe that which poisons me

The moment when you have to move on and break away from a relationship, a job or some other event that was bringing you down. It’s not an easy decision to make and some people never make it, until it’s too late. The unknown terrifies us and it takes courage to break away from toxic situations.

“The Impossible”
It’s mellow and calm and it originated from a Rikard Zander piano riff.

I’ve been watching from the outside
Dying to be on the inside
It’s colder and it’s freezing
While you’re asking the impossible
Because it’s impossible
To be this alone

And there you have it, the difference between eras. Growing up, with so little information, we believed everything was possible to achieve. Now with all the information at our fingertips, I can see the disillusionment. We worry about a terror attack, we worry about the lack of job security, we worry about our children not being able to afford to purchase a house, we worry about repaying our credit cards and in general we think more negative thoughts then positive ones. But, we still have hope that things will be better, but we are more cautious.

“My Allied Ocean”
The heaviest song on the album and written by the band on tour while in Bratislava, Slovenia. It shows the “in your face” vibe that Evergrey are capable off as a unit.

And there’s nowhere to turn
At the end of the road, I can’t hold on

The end of the road has many meanings. Literally it means the place where the road stops, however it also means death. And people don’t talk about it in a meaningful way. It’s our greatest taboo in 2016, in the same way sex was.

“In Orbit”
Nightwish’s Floor Jansen contributes guest vocals. Keyboardist Rikard Zander was the fuse that kicked this song into motion and it’s one of their most streamed songs on Spotify from the new album. It’s got that symphonic Within Temptation groove and it rocks.

I run, but not getting closer

There is always something in our lives that is elusive. A goal or a dream that is hard to attain, but we still strive for it.

Evergrey songs are not on the radio. Their name was driven by the fans. Adoption was driven by word of mouth. This song is very radio friendly but in 2016 what is the point of trying to get a song on radio, when you have the internet.

“The Lonely Monarch”
According to the Spotify commentary, the song was originally called “Moonchild” because the main riff sounded like “Moonchild” from Iron Maiden. The construction of the song came from the various jam sessions the guys did in the rehearsal room.

It’s written across the sky, it’s clear for all to see
That it’s not you, it’s only me who keeps us from falling down

We see ourselves in the songs and world we live in. It’s why we keep listening. Owning my f ups, it’s a hard thing to do and it takes time. Sometimes years. And in that time, a lot of things could happen, especially if people start to abandon you.

“The Paradox Of The Flame”
Englund’s wife Carina contributes guest vocals.

So here we are
I understand our intentions are different

Life teaches me that situations are always evolving and relationships (friends, love, work) are one of those cradle to the grave life lessons. And as the years go on our goals and intentions change. That favourite movie from 20 years ago is not so funny to one person anymore. That favourite band from the past is causing division right now.

Then you have kids and your lives depart even more. Sometimes the departure is so great there is nothing that can save the relationship.

How cool is the effect where Floor Jansen does symphonic vocals and it’s blended the keyboards.

If this is all I have now
Then I need to disconnect now
I never meant to be indifferent
Never wanted you to feel irrelevant
You were never insignificant

How good is Floor’s symphonic vocal, especially the vocal that cuts in at the 3 minute mark. Isn’t that the power of music?

It then leads into a guitar solo, then an Iron Maiden like section that morphs into a “Learning To Live” like section from Dream Theater and into another guitar solo. At this stage I’m ready to crack my work desk in half from the emotions the music evokes.

“The Storm Within”
The atmospheric epic title track.

It’s more about the feel than the hook. Evergrey is shutting the door on the album, having said what they needed to say. As soon as the song blasts through the headphones I am hooked by the vibe. It’s about mood, the song is reflective.

According to the Spotify commentary, bass player, Johan Niemann was very influential in the writing of the song and it’s really beautiful music captured within a time limit. According to the Spotify commentary, Jonah had to catch the train back home and they had two hours before he left.

How many people dreamt that a life in a band with a record label, would involve catching a train to and from the rehearsal space?

It’s a tough business.

The lyrics are about celebrating the life you have with someone.

It is dark I can hear the crows
And the autumn leaves falls and falls
Trees asleep still stretch for the sky
They belong to me, they stretch for us you see

The scene is set.

If all were just dreams we’d be safe
But we’re all just pale prints of passed days

Life is fleeting and our life footprints do not last forever.

And I know I’d heal better, if I’d surrender to feel

It’s the whole, “we can’t do it alone” vibe. I feel like Emperor Palpatine telling Luke to surrender to his feelings and give in to his hate.

And we wrote life as it passed
As nothing else could matter at all

Having the courage to live without a safety net.

How cool is the keyboard melody? It’s in the background and then from 4.30 minutes to the end it’s closing the song. And it’s a perfect closer, because it makes me want to press play again to hear the whole album again.

In a world where nobody cares about a bands new stuff, Evergrey are far removed from that view. People go to their shows to hear the new album, as well as the old stuff. And let this be a lesson to all wannabe musicians, you can have a career in the music business and still live in obscurity or in some cases poverty.