(CD/LP, AFM Records, 2016)
It is not a big secret that EVERGREY came extremely close to call it a day but fortunately this did not happen and, in fact, “Hymns For The Broken” was released proving that the band’s tank has been just filled up. I guess, from the bottom, one can only go up or alternatively almost every one of us needs a time on his life to hit the ‘reset’ button and start over with a clean sheet. After all, a band is not at all different from a human being, so it basically shares the same timeline with a person’s life. Things looked really promising and I think “The Storm Within” will be the granite slab on EVERGREY’s freshly poured artistic foundations. In other words, this is another killer addition to the Swedes' most impressive discography.
EVERGREY do not make easy music, both in terms of songwriting and in listening. I mean, it will be a crime to listen to an album of theirs in the fast-food way, like the majority of metalheads are doing nowadays and that this no more than skipping through the tracks and reaching solid verdicts, like it’s the easiest thing to do. This becomes even more challenging when dealing with concept albums because one needs to see what every song is trying to say and make the listener feel this, and this is exactly what “The Storm Within” is; a rollercoaster of feelings. You see, the subject is loss, an extremely tough experience that every human will face at some point in his life. Having this concept in mind, you can definitely understand the darkness expressed by the opening keyboards melodies, the trademark EVERGREY riff and the first lyrics reading “it’s lost but we will find it again” delivered by Tom’s most characteristic singing timbre. And then, the chorus reveals the magic of this band having all these interweaved layers; the keyboards, the minor orchestration and the still-going strong riff. I won’t use the term 'Progressive Metal' because really EVERGREY do not belong there; sure, the complexity in the song-structure is there, but this is done through wonderful melodies you can easily remember after a couple of spins. Still, the beauty in this music is how the sadness creeps in, fueling all those dark thoughts but not in a feeling-desperate kind of way. To my mind, this has to do with getting acquainted with your inner demons, embrace the pain and then come clean bearing the scars to always remind you of reality. By the way, the child-choir in the end of the album opener will send shivers down your spine and then become the perfect transition to the faster and groovier “Passing Through”. This one sounds a bit modern but at the same time has some “Recreation Day” beauty in it that makes it an instant hit. The stellar sound production keeps a golden balance and one can dive deeper with every listening and enjoy the thick structures and all the things that exist here. The way the keyboards work with the drums make a solid backbone for this killer song. Speaking of drums, I just cannot get enough of the hi-hat sounds in the even moodier “Someday” where the main riff will haunt you from the get-go. The tight / pounding rhythm will wake up some “In Search Of Truth” memories, highlighting at the same time the unique ability of this band to blend heaviness with lots of melodies. Yeah, you’ll be singing the chorus at no time, while you need to remember to pay some attention to the basslines that have quite a loud voice here.
Writing your thoughts about a concept album is really tricky because it is easy to get caught into the album’s flow and end up with an essay-long presentation which no one will bother to read past the introduction. However, this happens only when dealing with albums like “The Storm Within” and songs like the keyboard-driven “The Impossible” where Tom delivers his amazing singing in a way that reminded me of the magical “Trilogy Of The Damned” (find this as a bonus on “Recreation Day”). And then, comes the aggressive “My Allied Ocean” which kicks the door down with a dominating bass and a headbanging groove to die-for. I just love the rhythm guitar just before the second chorus and the killer solo that keeps the tempo on the fast side. Yeah, the spoken part shares almost the same strength with “When The Walls Go Down”.
Reading how this or that song reminds me of the older EVERGREY material, you may think that there is nothing new here and that the Swedes just played it safe but there is “In Orbit” to prove that the band still wants to push the envelope farther. And yes, having NIGHTWISH’s Floor Jansen sharing the singing with Tom is amazing, something that is happening one more time in the heavier and darker “Disconnect”. Once again, the keyboards and orchestrations use all the shades of grey to paint the atmosphere only EVERGREY know how to create and deliver. Oh my, the fast riff-driven break creates an amazing antithesis and in a unique way leads the emotions to some sort of catharsis coming through the operatic backing-vocals and the guitar solo that follows. The song changes once more character and by letting the bass to take hold of the reins in another amazing break before passing the baton to the guitar leads and the fantastic keyboards that stand one step in the back. The ballad of the album is “The Paradox OF The Flame” where Tom shares the singing duties with his significant half, backed up by some violins and piano-sounding keyboards.
To be honest, I am feeling bad about spending this small number of words to describe how much I enjoyed this wonderful journey through emotions while listening countless times “The Storm Within” because in reality, this journey has not ended as I discover all the details EVERGREY have placed inside the eleven tracks. However, I think I’ll stop listening and wait until the vinyl edition arrives, so I can read the lyrics, observe the artwork and enjoy another aspect of this album. By the way, the album’s title track will open the window for the so-needed catharsis and, at the same time, remind you that there may be more storms ahead of you, which eventually will make you stronger, so hit 'replay' once more...
02. Passing Through
05. The Impossible
06. My Allied Ocean
07. In Orbit
08. The Lonely Monach
09. The Paradox Of The Flame
11. The Storm Within
Tom S. Englund - Vocals, Guitars
Rikard Zander - Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Johan Nieman - Bass, Backing Vocals
Henrik Danhage - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Jonas Ekdahl - Drums