Drum roll please...introducing the metal album of the year, Evergrey's Recreation Day. OK, I'm a bit early with my prediction, but the fourth CD from this Swedish progressive metal powerhouse Evergrey is a masterpiece. Eleven tunes, plus a bonus track, mostly dealing with dark, heavy themes, and featuring fantastic production that accentuates the guitars, keyboards, and vocals perfectly. Add some astounding melodies, killer riffs, and intelligent lyrics and you have a real special recording from a very special band.
The first three cuts that open up Recreation Day are perhaps the strongest intro to a CD that I have heard in a long while. "The Great Deceiver" delivers an onslaught of brutal riffs and leads, as well as aggressive vocals from Tom S. Englund. The aggression keeps up on "End of Your Days", featuring some HEAVY guitar riffs from Englund and Henrik Danhage, and nimble keyboard work from Rikard Zander. One of the most powerful yet catchy tunes the band has ever recorded is "As I Lie Here Bleeding", and Englund pulls in an amazing vocal performance. "...Falling out what I know is true, Falling come shelter me as I lie here bleeding, Falling away from what I thought was you, Falling come shelter me as I lie here bleeding." Heavy stuff indeed. The title track deals with mourning after a death of a loved one, and is quite melodic, with gorgeous piano work complementing the intricate guitar riffs. Other highlights include the rampaging "Blinded", "Fragments", with its haunting keyboard work and Type O Negative vibe, and the emotional "I'm Sorry", featuring stunning vocals from Englund, who has one of the most unique voices in all of metal. The guitar work throughout has taken on a more complex nature than on previous albums, and the overall sound is just huge, even on the acoustic "Madness Caught Another Victim."
This band seems to improve with each release, and it will be interesting to see where they go from here. Recreation Day is a modern day classic, and a must for all metal listeners.