Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken
AFM Records – 2014
You can tell from the water soaked surrounding and soft spoken words from vocalist Tom S. Englund that “The Awakening” is a re-birth of the band Evergrey. It seems after the group splintered in 2010; which saw Henrik Danhage (guitars), Jonas Ekdahl (Drums) and Jari Kainulainen (bass) leave on friendly terms, in combination with the business side of music that it almost made Englund throw in the towel.
But thankfully fate had other plans as he found himself working alongside his former band mates due to circumstances beyond his control. The result is this stunning concept album about going to battle, war and revolution, something the band knows all too well from the above experience.
“King of Errors” is a powerful title that holds all kinds of implications. I’m fascinated by the lyrics as they could be taken all sorts of ways, including each of us looking inside ourselves. We all need to be accountable for the decisions we’ve made. As a song it’s wonderfully constructed with a passionate approach to getting to the heart of what the song’s about. Rikard Zander’s keyboard is thought provoking, giving the composition a sensitive tent pole for the heavy guitars and Jonas Ekdahl’s drums to play off of. The soulful lead guitar section shows the brotherhood connection between Tom S. Englund and Henrik Danhage. Just watch the awesome cinematic video to see what I mean.
Who can’t identify with rising and falling in life? Everybody goes through ups and downs and “A New Dawn” chronicles the rollercoaster journey we all take. Musically it reinforces that it can be hard and difficult, but worth the struggle.
The keyboard and drumbeat of “Wake A Change” create a pensive mood. I love the inspiring lyrics that say you can conquer anything if we adjust and become different. It’s songs like this that make me understand why Tom S. Englund has said, “Hymns For The Broken is 100% what we wanted.”
The band speaks of a tumultuous fierce inner conflict going on in “Archaic Rage.” The music totally supports the sustained uncontrollable anger which causes us to rise from ashes and stone. This is not only a strong statement lyrically, but tells these guys are refusing to give in. Who can’t join with a band making a herculean effort to achieve something?
The drum beat and dirty sounding distorted guitar let’s you know it’s time to dig in to knock down all “Barricades.” Rikard Zander’s high-airy keyboard is beautifully juxtaposed against the hard-charging guitars and Johan Niemann’s bass. Englund’s battle scarred voice authentically connects in this song.
Zander’s keyboard shines a light in “Black Undertow.” Ekdahl’s deliberate beat is perfect both slower and the quick double bass kicks later in the tune. Englund really lets his voice soar in the seventh track.
The band ignites “The Fire” with heavy duty drums and guitar riffs. Heads will bang during this chugging melody. The inclusion of the children’s choir is powerful.
The guitar rhythms in the title track “Hymns For The Broken” are instantly appealing and memorable. Englund and Henrik Danhage play with such fluidity and beautiful guitar tone that you will automatically love what they do.
The song design and arrangement of having the haunting “Missing You” followed by the album’s heaviest track “A Grand Collapse” pays huge dividends. The contrast is overwhelming and causes ripples you will feel even after the album is over. The softer song is smartly arranged by having Zander play a gorgeous grand piano with just Englund singing his heart out. It’s very touching and the main rhythmic pattern is repeated on keyboard during “A Grand Collapse.” The way Englund’s voice leads to the instrumental break of this unstoppable force of a song is brilliantly conceived & performed. By not having all the instruments in the prior track really make you feel the explosion of white hot progressive metal. Together, it’s breathtakingly mixed with the deft hands of Jacob Hansen (Volbeat, Amaranthe, and Primal Fear). The vocal hooks are gigantic and match the considerable power of the wicked aggressive guitars and pulverizing drums & bass.
Slide guitar and piano bring poignancy to “The Aftermath.” The guitar’s weeping sound evokes a keen sense of sadness or regret. The clean rhythm guitar that plays the main melody is perfect at making this a heart-rending song.
I’m not prepared to say Hymns Of The Broken is the best album Evergrey has ever made, because they have created a long list of stellar work (The Inner Circle, Monday Morning Apocalypse and Glorious Collision are equally awesome). What I will admit is that Dream Theater has been my favorite band since 1993. But since 2001, when I first heard Evergrey on their magnificent alien abduction album In Search of Truth, they have been uniformly better than Dream Theater over that time.
Hymns is not scheduled to be released by AFM Records until September 30th. Some people might think I’m jumping the gun putting out my review too early. I think not, because by that time I want you all to be anxious to go get it.
This album runs 60-concise minutes and is sure to vying for Best Album of the year.