Released By: AFM Records
Release Date: February 26th, 2021
Genre: Progressive Metal
Tom Englund / Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Danhage / Guitars
Rikard Zander / Keyboards
Johan Niemann / Bass
Jonas Ekdahl / Drums
Where August Mourns
In Absence of Sun
Escape of the Phoenix
You From You
Longevity in music is tough to obtain these fast trying days in the digital age of fast downloads, social media and the ever changing and diverse audiences that get to hear and touch your music. Is hard to find bands that stand the test of times, even for such a niche genre as Progressive Metal. Evergrey, the Gothenburg veterans I think have managed to do this. No I don’t mean the sales, and relentless touring, unfortunately some of these genres of metal will never reach audiences on a mass scale as the few and fortunate mainstream acts in the Rock business managed to do today. This is about staying around, and being relevant today after starting a career back in 1998, I don’t think any could foresee these guys being around today and pumping out more music. I doubt that founding member Tom Englund could envision the sustainability either, not because the music wasn’t good, but for the simple fact that the style of music played here always relies heavy on long time fans and smaller audiences.
Needless to say is a pleasure for long time fans to still be able to enjoy now 12 Studio albums from the guys. But the real question is how have they been able to trek forward and keep on making music? I think when you truly have a passion for something, while the fire may burn less brightly at times, in the end that passion always perseveres during low times and manages to inspire in places where otherwise you would be stuck in a rut. Evergrey has always been about mood, feeling, crushing emotion and the melodies in their songs seemed to always keep a constant groove, transitioning a smooth blend of perfect balance of power and melodious harmony that keeps the listener hooked.
It does help to have such a charismatic singer as Englund, while keeping that strong rhythm and bass that comes via Guitarist Henrik Danhage and Bassist Johan Niemann. Let’s not forget the consistent battery efforts of Jonas Ekdahl. You know what to expect from these guys, is their patented sound, it works and it will function technically proficient through any album they keep making.
In their 12th effort “Escape Of The Phoenix” harkens back to the last few records such as “Hymns for the Broken” and “The Storm Within”. You get a mix of slow grooves more melodic tunes, blended in with their more up tempo stuff. Some of the top cuts here get delivered via “Forever Outsider” and “A Dandelion Cipher”. The climatic keyboards on “In The Absense of Sun” plays nicely to a listeners ears as you don’t get the same structure that in past releases seem to always pop in there. Is not always about playing fast and loud for these guys, with song maturity they have come to balance things more and keep the music more groovy without sounding like a replay of old works. Another one that hits the sweet spot is “Eternal Nocturnal” and the title track as well. The tempo heats up quickly here as the power house of Evergrey really shines through, as it ever does on most of their past wares.
Another highlight is in the collaboration between Dream Theater front-man James Labrie on “The Beholder”, a big time influence for many in the genre, and one Englund has alluded too in the past. Like a river that steady flows downstream, the music of Evergrey always seems to be perfectly balanced offering the listener a melodic heaven for dark times.
Despite the past and boastful long catalog now, I never get tired of a new Evergrey album, and yes I hear the critique from some always talking about why these guys sound the same and why their music never changes. If you are a long time fan you will notice plenty of progression and maturity from their songwriting to their crafty sonically driven grooves. Is all there and to me being a staple of the genre, despite it’s obviously materialist things we look for in bands that are still making music (ie..hit songs), is something to be considered a mighty feat in itself just to stay relevant amongst loyal fans in a deep ocean of clones.
This is a must listen to long time fans of the guys and for anybody new that has never checked out their back catalog I highly suggest you do and start investing in some well played melodic and progressive metal that never seems to disappoint. May your fire keep burning bright as The Phoenix, and may you find your escape deep inside in the form of more amazing music!!!
Written by: Shadow Editor