Stable, compact and strong
Since their 1998 debut, The Dark Discovery, Sweden's Evergrey have continued their progressive metal style that is defined by crunching guitars, tastefully placed keyboards and vocalist Tom S. Englund's signature vocals. Their output has been consistent as they followed on with 1999's Solitude Dominance Tragedy, 2001's In Search Of Truth and the highly acclaimed back to back releases of 2003's Recreation Day and 2004's The Inner Circle, as well as their first live release 2005's A Night To Remember. Joining Englund (who also plays guitar) are guitarist Henrik Danhage, bassist Michael Häkansson, keyboardist Rikard Zander and drummer Jonas Ekdahl who together mark the band's first line-up that has remained stable for more than one release now that album number six, titled Monday Morning Apocalypse, is due to hit the shelves.
The title track, Monday Morning Apocalypse, kicks things off with a solid up tempo, double kick push making it a fairly energetic guitar driven opener that is the first of many compact tunes on offer coming in at just over three minutes. Continuing with a compact length are the up beat heavy swing of Unspeakable which sees Englund's vocals shine with tinges of John Bush (Armored Saint, ex-Anthrax) and even David Coverdale (Whitesnake, ex-Deep Purple) and the trim Lost which showcases a strong contrast between the soft, clean verses and the distorted, guitar laden choruses. It's hard to believe its taken three full tracks before Zander's keyboards have made themselves known but from the piano led intro of Obedience to the album's end, there's no shortage of them and once again, we see a John Bush edge to Englund's vocals. The Curtain Fall ups the tempo again with its simplistic and generally effective feel before the sombre sounding In Remembrance is sure to stick in your mind after only a couple of listens.
The album's high points continue with the excellent mix of melody and hard rockin' guitars in At Loss For Words and brief instrumental piano interlude, Till Dagmar. The only track to break the five minute barrier is Still In The Water which also sees Englund's vocal work being complimented by the gothic female vocals of his wife, Carina Kjellberg-Englund who has appeared as a session vocalist across all of their albums. The slow plodding pace of The Dark I Walk You Through is reinforced by the heavy vibe created by the music that showcases several moods from the dark musical atmosphere to Englunds melodic vocal performance where as I Should teases initially with it's up tempo intro that quickly switches into a slow paced, semi rock ballad feel and soon reveals itself as one of the album's highlights, the same which can be said of the moving piano and vocal combo that defines the closing piece, Closure.
If the shorter songs and the move to use renowned producers, Sanken Sandquist and Stefan Glaumann (Rammstein, Bon Jovi), are a push for bigger things for Evergrey, then this album may very well be the vehicle that gets them there. Monday Morning Apocalypse isn't afraid to show the dark and emotive feelings that the band have done in the past but there's little doubt that there's a more focussed feel throughout which is partly due to the concise delivery of the material itself. There's nothing holding this band back from going onto bigger and better things.
(InsideOut Music/SPV/Riot! Distribution)