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Evergrey: Hymns For the Broken

Swedish metal veterans Evergrey have always had an unmistakable sound, a style that's so distinctly 'Evergrey' that from the first notes of any of their songs, whether they be old or new, you instantly know it's them. Following the near break-up of the band after their 2011 release Glorious Collision, which came after the splintering of the line-up of Henrik Danhage (guitars), Jonas Ekdahl (drums), and Jari Kainulainen (bass) leaving only vocalist/guitarist Tom S. Englund standing tall, it's quite astonishing to see them all back together again and delivering their strongest album in years, Hymns For the Broken. Containing all the elements of a classic Evergrey album, those powerful, haunting vocals, alluring melodies, crushing guitar riffs, brooding keyboards, and chugging rhythms, Hymns For the Broken is as familiar as it is exhilarating.

Producer Jacob Hansen mixed the album, so you can safely assume it sounds fantastic, and it indeed does. "King of Errors" and "A New Dawn" just burst out of your speakers in true Evergrey fashion, Englund's commanding vocals soaring over heavy riffing and gothic styled keyboards, both songs instantly memorable and providing plenty of headbanging moments. "Wake a Change" is an emotional, catchy ballad, complete with layers of vocal harmonies and a tasty lead guitar solo, and "Archaic Rage" is another gut wrenching ballad with plenty of power, Englund's vocal just tearing at your soul as shimmering keys and pounding riffs create a wonderful musical backdrop. Hard hitting power/prog metal can be heard on the dramatic "Barricades", while the more melancholy "Black Undertow" provides those symphonic & gothic tones that Evergrey meld so nicely into their brand of melodic metal. "The Fire" crushes from start to finish, showing that the band still have lots of 'fire' when it comes to rampaging heavy metal, while the title track is another instantly memorable, haunting melodic metal song as only this band can deliver, with Englund again putting in a pained, emotional performance on the vocal. Joined by just piano, the singer wows on the tender "Missing You", and the rest of the band jump back in for the grandiose, ultra-heavy progressive metal masterpiece "The Grand Collapse", featuring some of the most killer riffs on the entire album. The album closes with the majestic "The Aftermath", a tender symphonic prog-metal piece with some lovely keyboard work, lead guitar, and course Englund's alluring vocals.

Yes, Evergrey are back in a big way, with one of their best albums in quite some time. In fact, nine albums in, the band is back to creating some of their best music since those glorious early years. Welcome back guys.


Track Listing

  1. The Awakening
  2. King Of Errors
  3. A New Dawn
  4. Wake A Change
  5. Archaic Rage
  6. Barricades
  7. Black Undertow
  8. The Fire
  9. Hymns For The Broken
  10. Missing You
  11. The Grand Collapse
  12. The Aftermath

Added: October 15th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2972
Language: english

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Evergrey: Hymns For the Broken
Posted by Steven Reid, SoT Staff Writer on 2014-10-15 15:18:13
My Score:

If you've never encountered Evergrey before, then the title of their ninth album, Hymns For The Broken, should give you a glimpse into the gloom they create. However gloom comes in many guises and from Evergrey it comes with a surprisingly Progressive smile and reassuringly Metal hug. For while the themes of songs such as "Missing You" and "King Of Errors" could be seen as bleak, musically this is bullishly introverted fare. Yes, that's a contradiction and yes, I can't deny that you'll struggle to find many upliftingly melodic motifs, or hook laden sing-alongs to get your lips round. However that doesn't stop this band, or album, from being an engaging listen from start to finish.

Three years down the line from their previous release, Glorious Collision, there's a different, yet similar look to Evergrey, guitarist Henrik Danhage, who was previously part of this band between 2000 and 2010, and drummer Jonas Ekdahl, who also departed in 2010 after joining in 2003, returning. Gone are Marcus Jidell and Hannes Van Dahl and while neither put a step out of place during their tenure, this undoubtedly feels like a reinvigorated band in action. Mainstay (in fact the only survivor from the 90s) Tom S. Englund puts in (as ever) a peerless vocal performance, while the contributions from both keyboard player Rikard Zander and bassist Johan Niemann can't be discounted either.

Whatever the reason, Hymns For The Broken is a surging album which grows with repeat listens and takes hold in your subconscious in a way few albums in this sphere ever really do. Possibly that's down to the fact the Metal, which is never cookie-cutter simple, takes precedence over the Prog, although this album remains far from straight forward. Convoluted corners and expertly placed twisting turns take you on a journey that rewards throughout and offers new delights with every subsequent relisten. At first the songs can sound disappointingly similar to each other, a tried and tested formula of keyboard backing and driving riff alternating with smoothed sections where a less in your face attack is in order. However delve deeper and the individuality does begin to reveal through sections of piano, alterations in guitar solos and Englund's ever evolving vocal attack. Some may struggle to get past the darkness and latent despair which is leaned on heavily. However the vocals and arrangements allow this album to somehow sound amazingly accessible, although only if you show a willingness to open your mind to this release's inner workings.

You may not count yourself among people in need of Hymns For The Broken, however this album's intentions are as much salve for the shattered as they are tonic for the fully intact. Taken in that spirit what Evergrey have created here is quite spectacular and I for one will revel in its dark joys for a long time to come.



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