There's glory, but it's short-lived
Given the disastrous results of 2006’s Monday Morning Apocalypse, and the rather tired direction heard on 2008’s Torn, the mass defection of three members in 2010 from Gothenburg (Sweden) based progressive/power metal act Evergrey didn’t come as any real surprise to long-time fans. In fact, the real concern amongst fans was whether or nor Evergrey could return to their former glory with the injection of new blood amongst their ranks, or whether the band’s new album would only confirm that their creative streak had long since been exhausted.
So here we are, a year after confirming the departure of members and the introduction of newcomers into the fold (founder/vocalist/guitarist Tom S. Englund and keyboardist Rickard Zander welcome ex-Royal Hunt/The Ring/Pain guitarist Marcus Jidell, ex-Therion/Mind’s Eye/Tiamat bassist Johan Niemann and ex-Downthrust/The Gloria Story drummer Hannes Van Dahl), Evergrey have returned with their eighth studio effort Glorious Collision.
In a lot of ways, if you’ve heard one Evergrey album, then you pretty much know what’s in store for their remaining efforts. And that’s very much the case here. Although having some newcomers in their ranks, Glorious Collision isn’t a huge departure from what you would expect from an Evergrey album. But what does separate this album from their last two efforts is some stronger songs, a greater presence from the keyboards and the overall energy that can be heard throughout the album, which was something seriously lacking on their last couple of albums.
The opening track Leave It Behind Us includes everything you would typically expect from an Evergrey song including a short gothic tinged keyboard introduction, big riffs, a passionate vocal performance from Englund, a huge anthem-like chorus and some great lead work. In short, it’s a killer of a song, and certainly one of Evergrey’s more memorable efforts in some time.
Despite a heavier guitar approach, You is a little forgettable on the chorus front. But what it lacks in a genuinely memorable hook, it does manage to make up in some interesting instrumental moments. But while You was a little hit and miss, the first single Wrong is very much the overly familiar (and therefore forgettable) direction we heard on Torn. As a song, it’s O.K. But compared to some of Evergrey’s classics in the past, it’s nothing special.
The band do manage to redeem themselves with the following three tracks, starting with the fiery and fast paced Frozen, moving onto broadening keyboard atmospherics and dual vocal approach on the driving Restoring the Loss and finishing up on part acoustic/part densely riffed monster To Fit the Mold. These three tracks bring back memories of when everything Evergrey released was unique and classic, and fillers were virtually non existent on their albums.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for the rest of the album. Again, while tracks such as Out of Reach, The Phantom Letters, The Disease... and It Comes From Within are all worthy tracks that lean more towards the stronger side of Evergrey’s song writing efforts, the ballad Free, I’m Drowning Alone and ...And the Distance just don’t quite have the same impact. In other words, while the middle of the album is quite exceptional in terms of distinctiveness and memorability, as the album moves further on, the quality seems to drop with each new song, which only leads to inevitable disappointment with the tail end of the album.
Compared to Torn, Glorious Collision is a return to form for Evergrey. But when you compare Evergrey’s latest to past classics such as the band’s first four albums, I can’t help feel that the new line-up within the band are heading in the right direction, but still can’t quite deliver. Glorious Collision is a solid album, but nothing that you haven’t otherwise heard from the band before.