Dream Theater built a fantastic album around the concept of hypnotic regression (1999’s Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From a Memory), but the veteran prog-metal band failed to greatly evolve their sound. That’s not the case with In Search of Truth, another concept prog-metal record focusing on hypnotic analysis of one man’s damage to his mental and physical health. Sweden’s Evergrey weave a textured tapestry of emotions throughout this record (their third), while solidly maintaining a somber, dark and slightly discomforting mood. A trio of new members brings a hearty aggression and passion to In Search of Truth, and keyboards play a more dominant role here than they did on either last year’s Solitude Dominance Tragedy or 1998’s The Dark Discovery.
Despite being rife with accessible melodies and hooks, a listener-friendly plot and engagingly desperate (almost whispered) spoken-word passages, this record is not for the weak of heart. Singer and guitarist Tom S. Englund’s deep, gruff voice resonates long after he brashly exhales each note, practically stabbing listeners with its immediacy. The rhythm section of bass player Michael Hakansson and drummer Patrick Carlsson thumps its way in and out of progressive power-metal mode, galloping across landscapes both typical (“The Masterplan”) and uncharacteristic (“Misled”) of the genre. Further widening the scope of In Search of Truth is “Dark Waters,” featuring more than a dozen members of The Mercury Choir, who almost elevate the song to a spiritual plane.
In many ways, Evergrey recall a lighter version of label mates Pain of Salvation, but with slightly less musical complexity and a lot less lyrical complexity. Cheers to Inside Out Music for sharing this band with a broader audience and for helping forge what could become a renaissance of sorts in a genre rapidly redefining itself.