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Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse

Monday Morning Apocalypse marks the beginning of a new era in the career of Evergrey and will certainly alienate some of the band's older fans with its deliberately commercial production, shorter and simpler song structures, and noticeably missing synth work. Yes, this is a truly new start for Evergrey. Enlisting the services of Sanken Sandquist and Stefan Glaumann (who have previously produced bands like Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Rammstein), Evergrey sounds completely different than before on their new album. The mixing puts a distinct emphasis on the guitars, while vocalist Tom Englund's voice is sometimes excessively processed, at times killing his unique and emotive delivery. It is no secret Evergrey have forever been looking for a real producer to record and mix their albums, but perhaps, what's most important for a band should be retaining their core identity, without losing touch with who they are and what they stand for.

Comprised of mostly three-minute songs that heavily focus on crunchy guitar work, the album kicks off with the title track, which was also the first single of the record. Sadly though, Tom Englund's vocals are so processed through the verses you may find it difficult to believe this is the same guy who previously opened albums with tracks like "Solitude Within" or "The Masterplan". As with previous album starters, "Monday Morning Apocalypse" is fast-paced, energetic and ambitious, but apart from the guitar trade-off, it doesn't really have much of a lasting effect. "Unspeakable" hints at a search for darker writing, but unfortunately feels incomplete and more like a Recreation Day leftover. That said, Jonas Ekdahl is at his drumming best on this piece, building it to a solid rhythmic anchor.

"Lost" is quite possibly the worst Evergrey song to date, with an awful chorus that just doesn't seem to end ("Inside out / Going outside in ..."). This one is followed by "Obedience", the first track where you can distinctly hear Rikard Zander's piano. This song has a great riff, killer vocals, and majestic twin guitar leads that recall the best moments on Recreation Day, but this, too, is followed by an incompetent number, "The Curtain Fall". Both Englund and Danhage fire off some of their sickest speed riffs here, but the production is so lackluster that I doubt even fans of modern metal may dislike it. The guitar tone is absolutely disappointing and, despite the interesting synth sequencing in the background together with what is perhaps Hakansson's best bass playing on the album, it simply keeps "Obedience" from standing out on this disc.

The band must have realised the keys needed to be pushed up significantly in order to hold the interest of their fans circa Solitude Dominance Tragedy and In Search of Truth (both perfectly recorded and mixed by Andy LaRocque), but since their shorter and more commercial tracks would leave no room for any synth experimentation, they've simply thrown in the 1:40-minute piano instrumental "Till Dagmar", a good song but terribly out of place. Much like its counterpart, there is the mandatory piano ballad "Closure" that lets the listener enjoy Englund's magnificent vocals at their best: pure and naked. No overdubs, no processing, no anything. Just piano and Tom Englund's vocals.

With all the negative aspects mentioned, I have to give props to songs like "At a Loss for Words" and "Still in the Water". The former has a cool chorus that is reminiscent of their material on In Search of Truth, and the latter features great backing vocals by Carina, an accessible synth motif, and an exceptional lead solo that takes the duo's talents to a whole new level. The scratchy electronic sampling on the huge-sounding "The Dark I Walk You Through" and the marching drums on "I Should" are also effective, save for the lead tone. I hope by the time Evergrey releases their next album, they will have realised that they are not a pop group, and no matter how impressive their producers' resume may be, they need to hook up with someone who understands prog.

I'd never believe I'd rate Evergrey so low. But despite repeat listens, Monday Morning Apocalypse, from its strange artwork to the overwrought compositions, fails to impact me the way their previous albums have. That said, I've always believed the first three Evergrey albums were tied with a cohesive bond of progressive and melodic metal that is obviously hard to recapture now, even by Evergrey's standards. Without drummer Patrick Carlsson, it is quite unlikely Evergrey will ever release such strong albums in a row again. It was with Recreation Day where the stylistic changes in the group's sound began to happen, and while The Inner Circle was a good album in its own right, with Monday Morning Apocalypse they've opened up a brand new chapter that they surely wish to explore a bit further. Too bad I don't think they've made a wise decision.

Track Listing

  1. Monday Morning Apocalypse
  2. Unspeakable
  3. Lost
  4. Obedience
  5. The Curtain Fall
  6. In Remembrance
  7. At a Loss for Words
  8. Till Dagmar
  9. Still in the Water
  10. The Dark I Walk You Through
  11. I Should
  12. Closure

Added: July 16th 2006
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Score:
Related Link: Evergrey website
Hits: 3661
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-07-16 08:35:42
My Score:

I have to be fair to the readers in starting this review by saying that I was new to the music of Evergrey. They were a band that I think I caught once or twice while being focused on other stuff and only when Iced Earth toured with them did I find myself paying attention. From there on, I became an open-minded supporter of this Melodic Hard Rock band that seemed dislike being referred to as Power Metal or Progressive. After absorbing the killer live effort of "A Night To Remember" which for the new listener is a great piece to help fill in your band blank spots I was unsure why they felt this way about those titles. Perhaps coming from their native Sweden and finding so many of those types of bands being churned out was the reasoning. Either way on their latest record "Monday Morning Apocalypse", we find the band reaching ever further from some of their established sound and exploring new ground. While this is not a commercial album by any sense, it does have an intrinsic commercial vibe in some areas. The first being the length of the tracks on the record, as they are notably shorter than Evergrey has been apt to produce. The other key difference is the processing found on Tom Englund's voice. He has an almost mechanized filtering on most of the songs here and while this might have been a good idea for a song or two, it did not belong on the entire record. When the albums title track begins the listening for you, there is a chance that you not realize that you are in fact listening to Evergrey. It is a killer opener and it won me over after a few listens since it keeps that heavy vibe I generally enjoy. However, only two tracks more, "Lost" comes on, and this is a track that I fear will send the bands hardcore fans to the door. It's more like contemporary Rock than anything we are used to hearing from the band and it has a weird sing song chorus as well ("Inside out, Outside in"). This was not one of my favorite tracks but I admit that it has radio potential. Maybe the band is seeking a different audience with some of this material and this new direction is a path that they have opted to follow.

Musically there are some strong moments on the recording but do not expect epics with this one. "Unspeakable" and "Obedience" are probably the strongest of the tracks outside of the title and everyone does play good. Production wise the album is solid having being worked on by Sandquist & Glaimann (notable producers on bands like Def Leppard and Rammstein). The bottom line that despite being more off from their signature sound the band still makes sure to deliver. It is up to you as the fan and listener to decide and judge more for yourself on whether to continue to support their efforts. In music, the only constant is the continued need for experiment as not everyone can get by on the same formula for decades (Rolling Stones, ACDC). If this is your first go round for the band, I might say wait until you check out the live CD first, and then look into this one. It is not a recommendation as a first sampling of this incredible group but more a CD that merits investigation after absorbing some of their back catalog.

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2006-03-25 09:22:18
My Score:

Evergrey's latest album (and supposedly last for InsideOut) Monday Morning Apocalypse sees the Swedish progressive/gothic metal giants honing their sound a bit towards more mainstream waters, no doubt getting set for the eventual major label bidding war that is soon to begin. More power to them I say. Evergrey has long been a band that deserved all the accolades they have gotten, releasing one solid album after another since their inception in the late 1990's. With Monday Morning Apocalypse the band has enlisted the help of producers Sanken Sandquist and Stefan Glaimann, who have worked previously with Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, and Rammstein. This has resulted in the most slickest sounding Evergrey platter to date, although many of the tried and true characteristics of the band seem slightly altered.

The opening title track, while being a kick-ass heavy number, contains some confusing processed, almost nu-metal vocals from Tom Englund. Similar effects to his vocals are heard on "Unspeakable", but despite that the song is a killer cut, with catchy melodies and crunchy guitar work. The band is up to their melodic tricks again on the keyboard driven ballad "Lost", a song that could have some single potential. On "Obedience", shuffling rhythms and galloping dual guitar riffs get supported by orchestral keyboards, but again Englund's vocals, while very strong, still have that processed effect that in my opinion is not really needed. The guy has one of the most unique and powerful vocals in metal, why mess with it?

"The Curtain Fall" features some thick downtuned guitar riffs from Englund and Henrik Danhage, but otherwise is not overly memorable. The same can be said for "In Remembrance", a nice melodic ballad that sees keyboard player Rikard Zander come out from behind the rock he hides behind for a good part of this album. The band charges in full force on "At Loss For Words", a blazing thumper that is classic Evergrey, featuring effective and technical guitar licks, thunderous drum work from Jonas Ekdahl, symphonic keys, and Englund's pure and passionate delivery. After the Zander solo instrumental piano piece "Till Dagmar" comes the rocker "Still in the Water", a creepy and dark piece with tight grooves and heavy riffs. Prog rock fans will love "The Dark I Walk You Through" as well as "I Should", both tunes with soaring vocals, a touch of keys, and tasty guitar work. "Closing" finishes out the album on a somber note, a vehicle simply for Englund's vocals and Zander's lovely piano.

The verdict? Well, it's an album that Evergrey fans will probably not be totally overjoyed with upon the first few listens, but it will grow on you and eventually warrant many repeat spins. Not a classic like Recreation Day, In Search of Truth, or The Inner Circle, but a step in a new direction and certainly better than a majority of the newer metal that you will hear. My guess is Evergrey moves to the next stage of their career and finally gets the mainstream acceptance they always deserved.


» Reader Comments:

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Carlos Canales Vega on 2006-07-17 11:29:39
My Score:

To me, it's an awesome album, with excellent songs.In fact, i played it several times a week.The songs are catchy and memorable, with a dark melancholic feel throughout.They don't need more lenght or complexities whatsoever.The production is crystal clear.If you don't buy this, it's your loss.

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-03-22 06:05:40
My Score:

I wouldn't say that Mr. Batmaz has accused the band of "selling out" as this other reader has suggested. He has simply stated that this band has drastically changed their style on this new release, and quite simply it's just not as good as their last few records. Nothing wrong with that, it happens to many bands, and in my opinion it's just not a great album. That said, as the writer states, there are some good moments to be heard, and really, 3 1/2 stars is a rating that many bands would love to get.

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Anonymous on 2006-03-21 20:24:03
My Score:

Eh, nobody bats a thousand

After three years of pretty much agreeing with every review on this webpage, there's finally a review on this webpage that strikes me as be written by a close-minded scenester. The problem is that Sea of Tranquility isn't a metal-head haven or a prog-whore site (this site pimps Sevendust for crying out loud). To me SOT has awlays been the anti-ethesis of webpages like Metal Cyrpt or ProGGnosis. SOT would be the LAST webpage I'd ever thought I'd hear a reviewer accuse a band of "selling-out" on.

I still think Sea of Tranquility is the most fair site for Metal/Prog reveiews. But after reading the review of Evergrey's new album, it seems my faith in this site as being "completely fair and open-minded" has been misplaced (although of my own admittance that faith might have been "blind")

[WEBMASTER'S NOTE: Bold statement from someone who won't supply their name. Murat happens to be a huge fan of Everygrey, and was shocked at his level of disappointment in the production of this album.]

Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Posted by Jase/DC on 2006-03-21 13:03:27
My Score:

I think they are jealous of In Flames and trying to go for the US market. The new video sucks too.

Jase




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