Evergrey add another progressive metal masterpiece to their roster with A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament), an album that has that rare larger than life feel to it but still manages to display and aggression and intensity in the performances.
The Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) is the 13th album from Evergrey and their first for Napalm Records, so one might expect big things from the band and they certainly deliver. The band itself is in its 27th year, which is a pretty amazing feat in general. When you think about the pandemic, that we are still largely in, seeing a band like Evergrey have three solid releases in the last four years really says something about the commitment of the band to their music. The current lineup came into being and has remained constant since guitarist Henrik Danhage and drummer Jonas Ekdahl arrived as new members following the release of The Glorius Collision in 2011 and this lineup had their first release with 2014’s Hymns for the Broken. The Storm Within followed in 2016 and The Atlantic in 2019, completing what was thought by many to be a trilogy. Cancelled tours and the pandemic gave the band some time for recording and Escape from the Phoenix was released in early 2021. A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) was recorded at Top Floor Studios in Gothenburg, engineered by Jakob Herrman and produced by Tom Englund and Jonas Ekdahl, with mixing and mastering by again by Jacob Hansen at Hansen Studios (Volbeat, Epica).
Evergrey waste no time launching right into a heavy riff in “Save Us”, setting the tone for the rest of the album. Tom Englund’s vocal prowess is on full display as the first verse starts and the fan gang vocal chorus adds some more intensity to the song. Keyboards come in to add some atmosphere during the chorus sections. Later in the song Englund and Henrik Danhage trade guitar solos keeping the intensity going in the song. This is a perfect introduction to not only the album but also the band and it’s good the band also released a video for the song. The keyboard and vocal fadeout makes for a perfect ending to the track as well and the haunting nature of it is something that resonates long after the song is finished.