Evergrey – “The Atlantic”

 Posted by on December 23, 2018 at 19:13  Add comments
Dec 232018
 

With their 11th album, Evergrey have released a masterpiece of dark, progressive power metal in The Atlantic, an album destined to be on year-end top 10 lists.

Originating in the midst of melodic death metal bands like At the Gates, and Dark Tranquility, the Swedish band Evergrey formed in 1995 and released their first album The Dark Discovery in 1998.  Being a productive band, in their 23 years together, the band has released now 11 albums including a live double cd with the Gothenburg Symphonic Orchestra, all the while enduring lineup changes and touring the globe. With the release of The Glorius Collision in 2011 guitarist Marcus Jidell and drummer Hannes van Dahl departed the band and were replaced by Henrik Danhage (guitar) and Jonas Ekdahl (drums).  This lineup has remained constant and produced  Hymns for the Broken (2014) and The Storm Within (2016).  Early 2019 will see the release of The Atlantic, which many are referring to as the third piece the trilogy combined with the other two albums from this iteration of the band.

To me, this album is what I had hoped The Storm Within was going to be when I first listened to it. Heavy and crushing while still providing an overall atmosphere that can best be described as from an epic tale.  Every performance, vocal, crushing riff, solo, pummeling drum rhythm, and beautiful atmospheric interlude on this album have been taken to a higher level.  This is a band in top form.  Even more amazing considering that the original recording was actually stolen from the band once completed, although that may have positively affected the final product.

Starting the album off with a near 8 minute song is certainly a risk, but “A Silent Arc” perfectly sets the stage for what is in store for the listener on the rest of the album.  Pummeling drums and a driving riff open up the song which settles into a heavy groove before Tom Englund’s dark, smooth, and emotive vocals come in.  Englund’s vocals are perfectly suited for this material and strike me as a bit reminiscent of David Coverdale from his Deep Purple days, a thought that is further reinforced by Rikard Zander’s keyboards that sound like those of Rainbow over the years.  The overall composition is striking in that at times the heavy guitars and drums dominate, while in other moments, keyboards and strong backing vocals take center stage.  The song itself takes many twists and turns that includes everything from quieter interludes to Henrik Danhage’s blistering guitar solos perfectly matched to the song.

Keeping with the heavy, guitar-driven theme, “Weightless” opens up with a pounding drum line and heavy guitar riff before the rest of the band comes in for support and to fill out the rest of the sound.  Similar to “A Silent Arc” the verse sections get a bit quieter but only from a guitar standpoint, allowing Jonas Edkahl’s drums to come through.  Later in the song, the careful listener will pick out Zander’s keyboards adding some atmosphere, especially in the verse sections and when Englund says “…can’t help to feel like I’m alone” the production quality is such that the listener gets the impression that he may very well be alone in that moment.  Everything about this song seems larger than life.

“All I Have” goes a bit darker in tone and feel with the opening guitars and keyboards almost as if we’re heading into doom territory, but the slow staccato palm-muted riffs and keyboards in the verse section take the song in a different direction and the chorus veers toward power ballad, but not going fully there unlike some of the songs on The Storm Within that weren’t my favorites.  In contrast, “All I Have” maintains that darker feel and Danhage supplies a slower, extended and powerful guitar solo.  Closing out the first half of the album is the rocking “A Secret Atlantis”, featuring one of the faster riffs on the album, that settles into a bit of a groove before Englund’s vocals come in.  This particular song features some near spoken vocal elements not found in previous songs and Johan Niemann’s bass shines in several moments throughout the song.  While the riffs in this song are some of the heavier ones on the album, the composition of the track and production are such that they don’t seem that heavy until one focuses on them.  Continuing the Rainbow comparison, the song features both a guitar and keyboard solo section, something that makes me happy even if Danhage has his own style and flair which varies quite a bit from Ritchie Blackmore.

At the midpoint of the album is a short keyboard instrumental, “The Tidal” which works to provide the listener a short respite before “The End of Silence” which is paced and structured a bit like some of the songs from Chevelle, but with added atmospheric keyboards.  The song builds and gets heavier and louder over time with Englund’s vocals shifting to match the change in intensity.  “Currents” shows the band being able to start with a very heavy riff that is a virtual wall of sound to verse sections that are equally heavy but rely more on the dynamic range between loud and quiet with the quieter sections being filled early on by Niemann’s bass lines.  As the song progresses, the guitars take center stage in driving the song along at times, while the keyboards return to take over at other times.  This ability to craft a song that can switch between the two seamlessly is something Evergrey have mastered on this album.  “Departure” is one of the slower tracks on the album but really showcases Niemann’s bass work and provides good variety, while “The Beacon” in its ocean waves, seagulls, atmospheric keyboards, and spoken word opening hint at another quieter song, it quickly becomes filled with pounding riffs and soaring vocals. Fittingly to close out the album, “The Ocean” jumps straight into a loud guitar riff and proceeds to fill the rest of the song with the best elements of songs on the album.

Evergrey have put together the kind of album that can define a genre.  The production and songcraft that went into this album are outstanding and provide that epic feel that is rare in albums.  Everything seems to flow seamlessly and the performances from every band member have their chance to shine in almost every song while still maintaining an overall cohesive feel even when the emotions behind the vocals and solos run strong.  This is an album that gets better with every listen and is destined for many top  10 lists.

Rating: 10/10

Written by John Jackson

Track listing:
01. A Silent Arc
02. Weightless
03. All I Have
04. A Secret Atlantis
05. The Tidal
06. End Of Silence
07. Currents
08. Departure
09. The Beacon
10. This Ocean

Band Members
Tom S. Englund – Vocals
Henrik Danhage – Guitars
Rikard Zander – Keyboard
Johan Niemann – Bass
Jonas Edkahl – Drums

Release Date: 25 January 2019

Record Label: AFM Records

Weblinks: Website / Facebook / Twitter

Buy the album here:
Holland: First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission

Video for ‘A Silent Arc’

 

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