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

Redemption

To me, this kind of metal started with Iron Maiden. Then the shredders like Yngwie Malmsteen, Vinnie Moore, Tony MacAlpine and Joe Satriani evolved it a litle bit more.

The “..And Justice For All” album from Metallica pushed the boundaries of metal even more with its time changes in the composition while Savatage was also pushing these metal boundaries, with “Gutter Ballet” and “Streets A Rock Opera”, metal masterpieces rooted in story-telling. In between here, you had Queensryche, who with each album kept pushing the progressive metal bar into further directions.

By the start of the 90’s, Fates Warning had morphed from a power metal act into a progressive rock one and Dream Theater changed the game even more with “Images and Words”.

And since then, progressive metal has kept on evolving. One of the most important acts in this scene is Evergrey, so it’s no surprise that Evergrey founder, singer and main songwriter Tom Englund is doing vocals here.

Some artists have a huge impact/influence on you.

For me Tom Englund is one such artist. He’s been pushing his main band “Evergrey” since they formed in Sweden in the mid 90’s and with each album they get stronger and more diverse. The last two albums, “Hymns For The Broken” and “The Storm” are excellent releases, incorporation atmospherics into their music. They are one of those bands with a cult following, and these fans have supported them into a ten album career over 20 years. And the thing with Evergrey is, they keep growing a little bit more with each release.

So I was surprised to read that Tom is doing vocals for Redemption.

I remember really digging their “The Fullness Of Time”, “The Origins Of Ruin” and “Snowfall On Judgement Day” albums, all released between 2005, 2007 and 2009 respectively. After that, they sort of dropped of my radar. I remember seeing new albums advertised, but I never got around to checking em out.

Now for people who don’t know who Redemption are, here is a quick summary.

They are a progressive metal/rock band from the US, who had vocalist Ray Adler from Fates Warning fronting them from “The Fullness Of Time” album. They’ve also had their fair share of tragedy/bad news, with founding guitarist Nick Van Dyk being diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in 2008 a form of blood cancer considered incurable. But the metal gods are shining and he’s still rocking to this day. In 2014, co- guitarist Bernie Versailles suffered an aneurysm and he’s currently on indefinite hiatus while he continues to recover.

And here we are in 2018, with “Long Night’s Journey Into Day”. Without any disrespect to the guys in Redemption, because they had Ray Adler fronting them previously, I always said they sounded like Fates Warning on the previous album and now with Tom Englund fronting them, they sound like Evergrey. These two vocalists have a unique tone and style which will always tie them back to their main bands.

In saying all that, this is a cracking album. If it sounds like Evergrey, it’s purely coincidental due to Englund’s vocals. And I like how Englund is trying new things, outside of the Evergrey domain. It looks like he finally understands the game. Those who are not creating and releasing constantly are either calling for the old days to come back or are waiting for the telegram to arrive. Things change and that also means the record business.

Eyes You Dare Not Meet In Dreams

If you like Megadeth, (hell, Megadeth musicians always seem to make an appearance on Redemption albums) then you will like the intro riffage.

There’s a storm on the horizon
There’s a shadow on your door
There’s a sense of dread that’s rising
And it’s coming back for more

It’s ominous and of our world and of our times.

Capitalism has overthrown democracy and it’s more dangerous than communism and dictatorships. If there is a threat to a company’s profits, they will sue a sovereign state to get their way or they will scheme and pay for laws to be passed, to get there way. And politicians are all too eager to accept the lobby dollars.

The GFC happened and trillions of dollars in taxpayer bailout funds went into the economy from the Government. The people responsible for the GFC, lost nothing. They went into nice jobs with the firms that benefited from the bailouts and they went on college speaking tours. However, the middle class and the poor suffered and lost a lot. Some still haven’t recovered.

And people still haven’t moved on from then. There is a fear, an anger and a dread which is all floating in the undertow. And the politicians who are meant to represent the people have more or less disappeared. All they represent are the companies who pay the most.

The instrumental/solo section is a medley of Yngwie Malmsteen and Dream Theater and it’s a great combination in my mind.

Someone Else’s Problem

The intro riff hooks me and “The Ytse Jam” nod before the verses is a perfect tribute to their influences.

So now I’m standing in the ashes
Remembering your face
If I’m honest and don’t think too much about it
There are things that seem a challenge to replace
I know I let myself be played
Trying to fix a broken toy

Lyrically, it deals with removing yourself from a relationship which is leaching you.

I tried
But I won’t bleed for you no more
Because your someone else’s problem

And then there is another wicked instrumental/solo section.

The Echo Chamber

It has a very similar riff to “Someone Else’s Problem” which has a similar riff to “The Ytse Jam” which is very similar to.. I guess you know how it goes.

But from the minute mark, this could have come from the “Scenes From A Memory” album by Dream Theater.

You surround yourself with thinkers of your kind
Never challenging your view or opening your mind

Lyrically it deals with social media, it’s impact in our lives and how people seek out views and ideas which they agree with, even if they are crap or wrong, and shutting out any other viewpoints, even if those opposing viewpoints are true.

Impermanent

Still a part of us will fight it
Til our dying breath
Nothing can be permanent
The machines in this place will fail
The illusion of stability

Change will come. Change is inevitable. And as the chorus lyrics state, accept the tide of change or it will drag you under.

Indulge In Color

The intro is brilliant with influences ranging from Joe Satriani to Dream Theater to Fates Warning to Rush.

They must have changed the way the game is played
Or I never knew the rules
I could see the prize within my grasp
And watched it slip away from view

Yes, the rules of life change based on the companies which stand to lose the most. You see, every law and every decision made by government is based on legislation that companies lobbied hard to make happen. And by having these laws passed, the rules of the game change.

Little Men

It’s a song Metallica wishes they wrote.

The world must be so frightening to make them feel so small

You know, those little politician men who want to feel important.

Face of an arrogant man
Striving in the shadows
Cursed by his success
He tries to reinvent himself
But isn’t sure he can
So he tries to stand so tall
Because he knows he’s small

The world is full of insane people holding positions of power. Now it’s unstable, insecure rich people holding positions of power.

And Yet

I know that you were using me
I know I should have won
You consumed the very best of me

Englund delivers vocally on this ballad.

I curse myself for caring and I hate because I’m weak

It’s human nature to care. The majority of us have a heart. And then you have the others who don’t care. Like a locust swarm they come in and strip away all the essence of the crop/person before they move on. Machine Head covered this topic with their song, “Unto The Locust”.

The Last Of Me

We have reached a point in life
Where it takes more than it gives

It’s a shame that for the majority of people, life has become about taking more than they give. There is no balance. We might see on the news, people rallying to give help to others in a time of need or a disaster, but what happens in between these events.

How are they helping each other?

People used to have veggie patch gardens and they would share what they grew with others in the street. Why let it go to waste? But people had to know each other in the street to share. These days, I am pretty sure if I ask people to name the people who live in their street, they wouldn’t be able to.

New Year’s Day

This is a cool U2 cover and hearing Englund do his take on Bono’s melodies is totally worth it.

Under a blood red sky
A crowd has gathered in black and white
Arms entwined, the chosen few
The newspapers say it’s true
It’s true
And we can break through
Though torn in two
We can be one.

Eastern Europe was under communism. The governments controlled the media. So they showed what they wanted to show and they printed what they wanted to print. As the lyrics state, if the newspapers say it’s true, it must be true.

I read somewhere about how the song’s lyrics deal with the 1980 demonstrations in Poland against oppressive and how the people demonstrating got arrested and put in jail.

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

Evergrey II

A few months back I posted some words on a Swedish progressive metal band called Evergrey, where I focused on definitive songs that resonated and connected with me. However for a band that has churned out albums since 1997, there is more to them than 10 songs.

They are a band that is based on mood. Depending on my mood for the day, certain songs connect. This week, the following ten songs connected with me.

Leave It Behind Us
It’s the opener from the “Glorious Collision” album released in 2011. Music is written by Tom Englund and keyboardist Rikard Zander while the lyrics are written by Tom Englund. It proved that Evergrey still mattered even as the band collapsed and was rebuilt again by Englund.

I’ll take your burdens and sorrows
And I’ll rise if I can
It’s your silence that makes me so hollow

Some days actually seem like that and then I wonder why my blood pressure is at unhealthy ranges.

Make way for the darkness
And create space for something new
Remove the blinds that held us
From seeing what we really should

When a relationship or a friendship crashes and that door closes, it’s amazing how many other doors open. It’s amazing how clearly you start to see things.

In Confidence
After the success of “The Inner Circle” album in 2004, the bigger budget and the bigger label came knocking. What came out of this relationship in 2006 was a polarizing follow-up called “Monday Morning Apocalypse” just as the band were on the verge of breaking through in the U.S.

So when “Torn” came out in 2008, it seemed that Evergrey was catching up on that missed window.

“In Confidence” is a great track from the underrated “Torn” album that strayed more in Modern Rock then Progressive Metal. The music is written by Tom Englund and drummer Jonas Ekdahl, while the lyrics are written by Tom Englund. This song just replays in my head.

I told you in confidence
And trusted you’d never sacrifice our silence
I rise from the ashes and remains of your broken promises

Don’t we all rise from the ashes of secrets told in confidence. The song is that good you cannot help but pay attention.

I Should
From the much maligned “Monday Morning Apocalypse” album released in 2006. The song is written both lyrically and musically by Tom Englund. It’s best to listen to the song, alone, preferably on headphones. Give it your full attention and let it fill your head space. The track is deep into the album list, however Everygrey have always treated each track as important as the first.

How come we bear the cross that you should?
How come we wear the wounds that you should?
I am confused, why is it me who is bleeding?

Exactly. Why am I the one that is hurting when all I did was help you out?

Wrong
It’s also from the “Glorious Collision” album released in 2011. Music and Lyrics are written by Tom Englund and keyboardist Rikard Zander. Meaningful and melodic, its pure magic. By the Eighties standards, this would be a hit because it’s immediately catchy, you get it right away.

Somehow I thought I always knew
The difference between the lie and truth

The truth is we don’t know the difference between lies and truth and it’s scary. If you don’t believe me, talk to anyone that has gone through a break up and you will hear a novel worth of stories about what the other partner did wrong. And if you get the chance to talk to the other side, they will have the same stories that puts the other partner down. Each person tells their side like it is truth.

Recreation Day
From the album of the same name released in 2003. Unfortunately, this very playable album is ignored. Unjustly as it still satisfies today.

Life is fear

Life is scary and it should be. Life should never be comfortable. If it is comfortable then you are not living out your dreams. We are fighting to live from our very first breath and then we are fighting to stay alive from the approaching death.

Barricades
From the new album “Hymns Of The Broken” released in 2014.

And we have been fighting for much too long
We’re getting tired
We’re longing to see
The barricades fall

It has the Evergrey signature sound, but it’s too dark to break through to the mainstream and that darkness is the place that Evergrey occupies. In the space of three years, the band again had to prove to the world that they still mattered after another line up collapse and another line up rebuild, however this time it was the return of two former members.

Black Undertow
Also from the new album “Hymns Of The Broken” released in 2014.

Freedom at last
Feels like a black undertow

This is what appeals to me about Evergrey. The darkness and the experimentation, evidenced in this cut. Never argue with the power of a riff. It just grooves!

More Than Ever
From “The Inner Circle” album released in 2004 and that album was the first piece of music I heard from the band. Immediately I went into the back catalogue. Tom Englund wrote a great lyrical melody over the bed of music written by co-guitarist Henrik Danhage.

Waiting for the waves to break
Hoping for the tide to change
Embracing the awaiting aim
Believing more than ever

And then the guitars start slashing and burning in harmony as they mimic the vocal melody. Brilliant.

The Grand Collapse
The second last song from the “Hymns Of The Broken” album.

We wanted to be caught in dreams that never end

We all want to be born again, we all want to find the key to every door, and what really makes this track soar is the sound and the indelible piano melody that is constantly played over and over again over the melodic chaos underneath it. Add to that the way the following words are sung.

Got so close, you, I

The Aftermath
The closing song from the “Hymns Of The Broken” album. It’s all about the sound. Especially in the fast-paced world of today, we all want something that puts our mind somewhere else.

I one day hope the sun gives way
To rid the clouds that hides our way

“The Aftermath” is just one of those tracks that I can never burn out on. It’s a typical album track like back in the day when album tracks used to count. You know the ones, while the hits draw you in, it was these kind of songs we uncovered as the album played. Like WASP’s “The Great Misconception Of Me”.

And that is also the problem with music today. No one’s got any time to go deep into albums.

Enjoy.

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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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Guitar Heroes

“There are guitar heroes and there are band guys. Guitar heroes are the top dogs – whatever they say goes. Band guys are team players, committed to the chemistry of the whole. Steve Howe is a band guy from way back.”

October 1989 Guitar World…

Players like Zakk Wylde, Slash, John Petrucci and Marc Tremonti could easily be classed as band guys. James Hetfield is all about Metallica and of course there are many more that have come and gone.

In that same issue George Lynch spoke about his relationship with Don Dokken and how his new band Lynch Mob is a band that will not have a revolving door of musicians just because the band leader might have woken up on the wrong side of the bed. We all know how that turned out.

So it got me thinking about guitar players who are plying their trade day in and day out without getting the recognition they really deserve. It’s tough to be an artist regardless of era. Today, the main focus is on money. However music slays money all the time if done right and when it is done right it usually generates a pile of it anyway.

And I started focusing on two guitar bands that are doing the rounds at the moment. The only criteria I used is that the guitar partnership was formed/created at the start of the 2000’s with their respective bands.

Tom Englund/Henrik Danhage

Evergrey is about to make twenty years in the business and they are stronger than ever in popularity. Thank Tom Englund for keeping the flame burning. They are a band that doesn’t go out to write hit singles however some of the fan base believe they did just that with the “Monday Morning Apocalypse” album in 2006. For me, Evergrey is Evergrey. Dark, honest, melodic and hopeful.

The Englund/Danhage partnership started in 2000, ceased in 2010 and rekindled again in 2013. Clearly the magic is still there. For the uninitiated check out the albums “Hymns For The Broken”, “The Inner Circle” and “Torn”.  “The Inner Circle” album gave me a whole new inspiration to create music again.

They are the antidote, the complete opposite of our phony culture.

Zoltan Bathory/Jason Hook

Five Finger Death Punch are record label darlings at this point in time. With the first three albums all going Gold and the current Volumes 1 and 2 both pushing close to that mark what isn’t there to like from a record label point of view.

Underpinning the mighty PUNCH is the rhythm playing of Zoltan Bathory. Rooted in European metal and its modes, with a dash of hard rock and melodic death metal, Bathory consistently delivers head banging, foot stomping riffola. And no one could have predicted the success that would come.

The Bathory/Hook partnership started in 2009. For the uninitiated check out “War Is The Answer”, “American Capitalist” and “The Wrong Side Of Heaven Volume 1”.

And yes, Five Finger Death Punch are consistent sellers proving once again, people will invest their time and money if they believe in the MESSAGE!

Adam Dutkiewicz/Joel Stroetzel

This partnership started before 2000, however Dutkiewicz was the drummer back then. But in 2001, Dutkiewicz took up the guitar again and a whole new era kicked off.

For the uninitiated check out “The End of Heartache”, “As Daylight Dies” and “Disarm the Descent”. “As Daylight Dies” was an important album for me, as it combined melodic vocals, with brutal riffs and technical playing. Even though the band is not classed as a progressive band, they are progressive. It is a shame that in 2014, progressive music is seen as how fast and technical you can get, where in the past progressive music didn’t mean that. And that is the definition that Killswitch Engage inherits.

Robb Flynn/Phil Demmel

They are like an old act that took four albums to find their voice and hit a groove. And what a groove they found in “The Blackening”. Enough said.  Also “Unto The Locust” is no slouch either and from what I have heard so far, “Bloodstone and Diamonds” is shaping up to be a monster.

Their Machine Head partnership began in 2003 although they knew each other from their time spent in Vio-Lence, it wasn’t until they got together to write the follow-up to the backs to the wall comeback album, “Through The Ashes Of Empires” that they set a new standard in metal and thrash circles. A three-year touring cycle followed. A deserved victory lap for a brilliant album.

And the thing about Robb Flynn that I like is that he fights back. If he is wrong, he apologizes however if he is not wrong he defends himself. Just because someone is criticizing him it does not mean they’re right. And Robb Flynn doesn’t give in so easily.

Claude Sanchez/Travis Stever

Coheed and Cambria have played a vital role in my developing skills as a songwriter. The “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” and it’s follow up, “Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV” showed what can be achieved when you mash-up so many different styles into a story line. “Welcome Home” is a perfect example. It has punk elements, pop elements and classic rock elements. “In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth” they showcase prog rock, atmospheric rock and classic rock with a twang of modern rock.

In other words, Coheed and Cambria are unlike anything else. They are so far from the me-too artist that is always trumped up by the media reporting outlets. An artist tests limits and Claude Sanchez definitely falls into this space.

Synester Gates/Zacky Vengeance

There is nothing about Avenged Sevenfold that hasn’t been planned and analysed to the smallest detail. Before they even started they decided on stage names, which is a throwback to the classic rock artists and the Eighties metal heroes. With their BLACK album “Hail To The King” they finally have songs that just rock on the stage.

I witnessed the energy the new songs output compared to the older more complex material. In relation to guitar playing, check out “Afterlife” and “Second Heartbeat”.

Even the mighty Zakk Wylde said that Gates is “the torchbearer for the young kids now to play solos, learn the scales, and develop a feel.”And with Synester’s influences ranging from Zakk Wylde, Dimebag Darrell, Slash, John Petrucci, Allan Holdsworth and Frank Gambale, a torchbearer he is.

Luke Hoskin/ Tim Millar

These guys are a perfect example of succeeding through hard work and hewing to their own vision and refusing to adjust to others’ input. While other artists might have had more of the limelight, all this did was allow the Protest The Hero guys to refine their song writing in relative obscurity.

For definitive albums, you can’t go past their new one “Volition”. Funded by the fans and written for the fans.

Matt Heafy/ Corey Beaulieu

Many of us are hooked by something. Trivium is one such band that hooked me. I put it down to their cover version of “Master Of Puppets”. Hell, they sounded better than Metallica.

And the thing that really connects with me is that they are always exploring themselves as artists. They don’t know if they are on the right path, but they are always trying to get there and that is important.

“Shogun” will be seen as their masterpiece album however songs like “In Waves” and “Strife” have proven to take a life on their own. I am really looking forward to their gig with In Flames in November.

Jake Pitts/Jinxx

With so many hard rock or modern rock bands out there, who does a person decide what band to gravitate to as our time is precious.

Having two guitar players that bring back memories of the early eighties is a good start. And that is where Black Veil Brides come in. Now the vocals are hit and miss but there is no denying the quality of the guitar playing and the song writing.

Dee Snider even called them “rockstars”.

Matthew Tuck/Michael “Padge” Paget

A similar set up like Trivium and their career trajectory is almost identical.

Like “Shogun” for Trivium, “Scream/Aim/Fire” is a definitive thrash metal album for Bullet For My Valentine.

Then there are songs from “Fever” and “Temper Temper” that have taken a life of their own. In this case “The Last Fight” and “Breaking Point”.

With so much new music, I usually stop paying attention and go back to my favourites. The above artists have proven themselves since the start of the 2000’s to become my favourites. For other up and comers, yell at me to notice you and I will ignore you. Yell a little bit more, and I will just retreat and burrow down deeper into my favourites.

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A to Z of Making It, Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Influenced, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

Hymns For The Broken

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.

“Archaic Rage”

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.

“Barricades”

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.

“Black Undertow”

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”

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.

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Shifting Thoughts with Evergrey, Dream Theater and Five Finger Death Punch – Are Corporate Deals the New Music Business?

The internet is flush with information about artists needing to do what is valuable to them. However what is valuable to them doesn’t always mean that it is valuable to everyone else.

So artists are always going back to square one. This is when artists will start to compromise their artistic vision and produce cookie cutter crap. However what an artist should be doing is to keep on writing. In the end, that valuable song will be written and it will translate to your audience. This is when the thing that you love to do, translates to an audience that loves what you do.

Evergrey is a Swedish progressive metal band. They are eight albums in so far. Their first album The Dark Discovery came out in 1998 and the most recent one Glorious Collision came out in 2011. The mainstay of the band is guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund, who also functions as the main songwriter in the band. Around him, band members come and go, with the most recent change happening in 2010.

Englund is remaining true to his artistic vision. He is not compromising on it and he is not changing his vision to chase any current trends. Drummer Jonas Ekdahl and guitarist Henrik Danhage left Evergrey in 2010 to form a metal core outfit called Death Destruction with the lead singer from another Swedish band called Dead By April. Chasing trends.

It all comes down to what the artist wants to achieve from their career. Englund is all about the art and to me it seems like he is happy with the level of success he has. Would he like to be bigger? I am sure the answer would be YES to that, however would he complain about his lot in life. I think not. Englund is doing the thing that he loves to do and he has found an audience that loves what he does.

Bands like Coheed and Cambria, Digital Summer and Protest The Hero all get it.

Digital Summer is all fan funded. They have been around since 2006. They have toured strategically since inception as all the band members hold down full time jobs. They are three albums and one EP in so far and based on their business model, they will be around for a long time.

Protest The Hero is also fan funded. Their recent Indiegogo campaign more than tripled their goal (and YES I am one of those fans that donated). They have even rewarded the super fans that have shared the contribution link and gotten other people to contribute with additional perks.

Coheed and Cambria are a very fan centric band. The way they have packaged The Afterman releases with the digital downloads available on the day of release, along with demos and back stories of each song, as well as an 80 odd page hard cover book is just brilliant. They did it their way and with a price that was just right.

Dream Theater is one band that is sitting on the fringe here. They are still doing it the old way as they know their fan base will lap up the new self-titled album. Their recent co-promotion with mainstream entity USA Today to launch their new single The Enemy Within is just another corporate deal in the same vein as Jay Z partnering with Samsung.

USA Today offer a certain amount of dollars so that they are the exclusive and first on line website to premier the new song. By doing this, Dream Theater, their label, their manager and whoever else has a stake in the band will get paid up front and USA Today will get traffic to their website which they can then use to get a higher ad revenue from their advertisers’.

Before all the DT Forum Elitists start jumping up in arms and start calling me an idiot, every band is entitled to earn money in any way they see fit. This is no different to Dire Straits and Phillips teaming up in the Eighties, to push the new CD format onto consumers. If that what Dream Theater’s business model needs them to do, good on them. In the end the fans will decide the fate of the band, as they have done for every band that came before and that will come after.

Five Finger Death Punch did something similar were they teamed/partnered with Loudwire to produce a track by track webisode series. The Five Finger Death Punch co-promotion was super cool as it focused on delivering back stories to each of the songs. As a fan, it is those little extra details that I really like. That could be the reason why Five Finger Death Punch have reached Gold status with each album release. Those little things, like a track by track webisode.

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