Evergrey – “The Atlantic” (AFM Records)
And so we come to the concluding album of the trilogy that began in 2014 with “Hymns For The Broken”. “The Atlantic” is Evergrey’s 11th release and as we might expect from this Swedish band renowned for their complex and progressive material, it’s deep and in this particular case, also highly diverse. Viewing life as a journey across the ocean taking in its experiences of beauty and darkness, fortune and grief, love and hate, despair and joy and everything connected with it, what could be more apt than to title this album “The Atlantic”? Indeed, fate also played its hand when the band’s home studio was ransacked and vocalist Tom S Englund soon found himself under pressure to re-write about Scandinavian darkness while across the world in the California sun! Thankfully, all the frustration and anger has led to an excellent performance here, which definitely embodies plenty of heartfelt passion throughout the 10 tracks but equally, through its emotional intensity, has resulted in Evergrey’s darkest and heaviest album to date. It’s no better exemplified than on ‘A Secret Atlantis’ with the tranquil intro soon exploding into massive chundering waves of riffola along with huge drums and heavy bass lines rearing their heads, and yet so expertly complemented by the tenderest of guitar melodies, prog harmonies and the mesmerising soul of Englund’s vocals. In keeping with the oceanic theme, the music reflects the mood from blissful calm to raging tumultuousness while never, ever letting up on the drama whatsoever – oh man, total heaven! If it’s the prog you seek, then look to ‘The Ocean’ with Rikard Zander’s excellent trumpeting keyboards prominent in the mix and backed by Johan Niemann’s suave, sexy bass lines while the powerful, yet soulful harmonies are simply overpowering in uplifting you – and then the guitar solos hit with their wailing and ecstatic warbling and you just simply succumb to the brilliance on show here, it’s that simple. Closing this gripping album is ‘The Ocean’ with its huge atmosphere of chopping rhythm, hard djent riffs and Jonas Ekdahl’s double bass drumming powering a dark maelstrom graced by Zander’s melodic keys with yet more emotional guitars while Englund confidently rocks out his croons over it all – wow! Whatever their obstacles and fears in arriving at this outstanding release, through it all, Evergrey have reached new shores.