It's hard to believe, but Evergrey is celebrating a musical career that has spanned 20 years and produced ten albums. The latest is their ninth studio album, The Storm Within and, as you would expect, it's trademark Evergrey. Yet, in advance of receiving my promo copy of the album, my first impressions were a bit disappointing when I listened to the video for Distance. Bookended by minor key piano, the song seemed all riffage with Tom Englund's voice somewhat muted. But fear not, things get better.
First, and returning to Evergrey's signature style, the melancholic, somewhat darker, melodic metal continues, peppered as usual with progressive nuances. The aforementioned bold riffage continues, giving forth to massive lead guitar lines (probably my favorite part of any Evergrey album). Lyrical themes, again, come from Englund's personal experience, with the overarching theme being the loss of a relationship and ensuing recovery. Also, as expected, and participating from the very first Evergrey album, Englund's wife Carina plays a significant part with background vocals, but also a duet in The Paradox of the Flame (see video below). She was also instrumental in getting current Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen to sing on In Orbit and Disconnect.
After these things, the songs offer some variety. Typical emotional reflection and melancholy come with Astray, with Englund's voice carried by piano and synth orchestration. Also with the aforementioned The Paradox of the Flame, the melodrama is created by vocal tandem entwined by piano, symphonic notes, and a generally moody atmosphere. Alternatively, Evergrey tears it up with My Allied Ocean, a song with thick riffage, a booming bottom end, and simply some rabid aggressiveness. Much the same could be said of Disconnect. In it's more intense moments the riffage churns like a buzz saw and the final lead solo is bristling. With the title cut, Evergrey embellishes those guitar lines even more with increased synth orchestration, giving the song both a dense and immense character. Some unexpected positive energy and groove come with the very catchy Passing Through, perhaps the liveliest song here. But nobody really uses the word "lively" and Evergrey in the same sentence. Wait. I just did. Fundamentally, The Storm Within is pure Evergrey, exactly everything you would expect from Tom Englund and band. Fans will be pleased.
Fundamentally, The Storm Within is pure Evergrey, exactly everything you would expect from Tom Englund and band. Fans will be pleased.
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