LP1042_tem_de.pdfThis time I just wasn’t ready for the bi-annual dose of inner conflict, depressive introspection and damaged psyches that come with every Evergrey album. Personal issues have conspired to keep me away from reviewing as much as I’d like and I’ll admit to feeling a bit beaten down of late. That’s either the worst time to spin an Evergrey release or the best depending on the level of masochism present in your twisted black heart. I personally would have preferred a brainless dose of barbarian metal or some mega-cheesy power metal all about cosmic unicorn husbandry, but Wotan had other plans. Instead I’ve been keeping time with The Storm Within, the latest entry in the ledger of suffering by these eternally angst-ridden Swedes. This release is timed to coincide with their 20th anniversary as a band and I can (un)happily report it’s everything you’d expect from Evergrey with the same strong song writing, fetishistic commitment to sadboy melancholy and soul wrenching emotional excess. It’s also a conceptual piece about losing a loved one, grieving and finding the strength to go on, though to be honest, I assumed all their albums were. To their credit it’s also their strongest, most consistent outing in years and it showcases a band experiencing their creative prime, even this late in their career.

Opener “Distance” demonstrates all their strengths in one package. On its face it’s a stark, simplistic song fusing Tom Englund’s distinctively emotional vocals with heavy, somewhat metalcore-ish, vaguely Godsmack-y riffs, then dropping them away to let Englund carry a poignant, stark chorus that shouldn’t stick as deeply as it does. This is the kind of song they’ve been writing forever but when they nail it, you’ve no choice but to let the sadness soak in, leaving you with naught but ashes in your trembling hands. I can’t think of another band capable of conveying hurt as effectively as Evergrey can and I’m sure someone/everyone in the band needs a big hug and a large fruit smoothie spiked with lithium. “Lighter” fare like “Passing Through” is more energetic but still feels like a slick, poppy version of something Woods of Ypres would’ve written during David Gold’s twilight days.

“The Impossible” is this album’s “Waking Up Blind,” and an awesomely downtrodden ode to pain, grief and loss that should be taken in small doses despite its intrinsic beauty. The faint traces of Monster Magnet are likely an unintentional byproduct but interesting nonetheless. Punchy cuts like “My Allied Ocean” and “Disconnect” dial up the heaviness and aggression but the vocals firmly anchor them in territory familiar to psychiatrists and therapists. Each song is like a distorted window into a broken soul and though the material is catchy and at times even anthemic, it never feels the least bit bright or joyous. “The Paradox of the Flame” sees Carina Englund (Tom’s wife) return for another somber duet much like “For Every Tear That Falls,” and though the song isn’t quite of that caliber, it’s fine in its own right and naturally, a real killjoy.

Evergrey_2016

There isn’t a weak track, and though it’s long at 58 minutes, the band doesn’t overstay their welcome, which is pretty amazing considering the uniformly depressive themes. Sound-wise, things are full and clear. The bass is audible throughout, the guitars have suitable heft and Englund’s vocals sit right where they should – at the center of the tear parade.

Speaking of Englund, few bands are as dependent on the vocals of their frontman. While the music itself is solid, little of it would stick if it wasn’t sugar-coated with such top-notch vocals. The riffs in-particular are often simple, straight-forward core-like chugs, and though they work in the context of the songs, they don’t often make an impression on their own. That said, I do enjoy the minimalist melodic touches Englund and Henrik Danhage thread through the songs. Englund is one of the best vocalists in metal and he’s developed a unique style for himself. The way he conveys pain and suffering is borderline genius and his knack for vocal placement is impressive. Evergrey have proven themselves consistently solid song writers over the years and they seem to be on a creative rise. Considering they were on the verge of breaking up a few years ago, that’s pretty remarkable.

I’m a fan of the band and enjoyed every album to some degree. I wasn’t in the right place to appreciate this and I certainly didn’t want to drill down into the pathos, but The Storm Within won me over anyway. It’s better than 2014s Hymns for the Broken, and may be their strongest since The Inner Circle. If you want to feel the feels, you came to the right place. Surrender your smile at the door.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: evergrey.netfacebook.com/evergrey
Releases Worldwide: September 9th, 2016

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  • AlphaBetaFoxface

    Hey man, I ain’t one to be all fluffy on metal websites, but don’t push yourself too hard! We gotta have someone to accuse of missing camels around here, and I know firsthand the effects of too much Evergrey (he didn’t wake up for three months)!

    Fantastic write-up. Props for the honest score; I have trashed all too many brilliant albums simply because I wasn’t listening to them in the right mind.

  • GardensTale

    Holy shit, I have not listened to Evergrey since Recreation Day. I used to like it but it’s just one of those bands that kinda slipped off the radar. Let me see, that was…

    THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS AGO?!

    • You missed out on a whole lotta sad!

      • GardensTale

        Nah, I just went and got it from Antimatter instead.

  • Treble Yell

    I too haven’t really enjoyed an Evergrey album since Recreation Day.
    This year’s been a rough one so maybe now is the time to reacquaint
    myself.

    • GardensTale

      R.I.P. Harambe

      • Dr. Wvrm

        R.I.P. Barb

      • Dicks out!

  • Kudos to them for the proper use of light-years in the paradox of flame song. But I’m sticking with Katatonia for my sadness needs. This is just… way too slow. If I want slow I’ll spin the new SubRosa.

  • Ernesto Aimar

    ohhh no mention of “In Orbit”??? that marvelous song that joins together Englund and the gold embossed pipes of Floor Jansen??? marvelous piece of work, serious candidate to SotY.

    Great album, as Druhm states far better than their previous two, but I still like “Torn” way more, and of course their back catalogue since “The Inner…” still stand out better

  • Dr. A.N. Grier

    I’m actually enjoying this album a lot. Been spinning it on a regular basis lately.

    • Did you remove all edged implements from the house first?

      • Dr. A.N. Grier

        I had no choice. Depresso-metal gives me bad thoughts…

  • brutal_sushi

    This is one of those bands I can put on in the car, or blast it around the house and not piss of the wife. Plus I fucking love this band so its a win win.

  • I am like you, I am a fan of the band and with their predictable release schedule, I always listen to whatever they have to offer, enjoy it to a degree, but most of the time, I quickly forget it. I could randomly play any song off the last 4 albums, and I wouldn’t be able to place which album it came from.

    With that in mind, when I saw this, I felt it would be more of the same, and in some ways it is. Not much is new here, but I feel a general sense of improvement on this record compared to their previous efforts. This is definitely a step in the right direction. I can’t actually put my finger in WHAT I like better about it, but as I listen to it, I find myself enjoying it more than I have the last few albums.

    I think the 3.5 / 5 score is spot on. Great review! :)

  • Gustaf_H

    I enjoyed Distance and its video a whole lot more than I expected. Looking forward to giving this a spin now (or Friday for us mortals). Thanks!

  • madhare

    It’s a funny thing. I haven’t been able to get into Evergrey, and based on the embedded track this album is no different. It’s somehow too… commercial. Which is a bit funny because I like Insomnium, which is also similarly sad-boy commercial. But there is still a clear difference – at least for me. …like the end choir in the embedded track… yuck…

    Like I’ve said before all these goth/sad/dark bands have to balance carefully the authenticity of the emotions with the commercial aspects. And this somehow is little bit too polished to be authentic.

    • How dare you??

      • madhare

        Because, good Sir, I am daring.

        • Ah well, the new Insomnium is right around the corner, as is the review.

          • Reese Burns

            I’ve purposefully avoided all Insomnium reviews because I want to hear your opinions on it first, I can’t wait for the review.

  • mtlman1990

    Great album. I wasn’t a big fan until I got to see them and Borealis in Pittsburgh last September. There was maybe 40 people there due to the holiday. Englund’s vocals are amazing.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Holy shit! This guy’s voice sounds like Lemmy’s voice after a shower!

  • Adjudant

    Please don’t mention the bleak beauty that is Woods of Ypres in relation to Evergrey

    • Too late.

      • Adjudant

        It was, wasn’t it. Sigh, well at least we’ll all know for next time

  • Brother Ben

    The album cover looks like a Tommy Katevik-era Kamelot cover

  • robpal

    Very good album, darker and more atmospheric than “Hymns For The Broken” which I liked better than this one. What I really like about this band is the fact that the records they release are always of certain quality. Even “Torn” which I never really got into is a solid album, compared to most of the stuff I hear (another band with similar work ethics is Threshold).

    After a few spins I’m singing along with Englund, still quite catchy while not being simplistic at the same time. Solos are awesome as usual. And great to hear Floor Jansen on this album, she’s a massive Evergrey fan herself!

    Nice review, I’d give it 3,5/5 as well.

    Waiting for the new Devin Townsend review, I know it’s coming, boys!

  • Reese Burns

    To me, this album sounds a lot more hopeful than depressing, and is almost guaranteed to be in my top ten this year.

  • AnnieK13

    I always like Evergrey when I listen to them but some how it doesn’t seem to stick with me. I’m going to pick this album up and give them another chance and hope this is the one that makes me a fan.

  • MetalFan

    I’ll preface this by saying I had never heard of Evergrey before this album, so The Storm Within was very much a litmus test for how good this band would be for me.
    I’m the sort of music lover who values lyrics, vocals, instruments and production work equally. Nail all those aspects and you’ve got the perfect album in my mind.
    I also give albums a second chance as all too often you listen to an album once and miss out on subtle nuances, or the flow from start to end.
    Am I glad to have discovered Evergrey? ABSOLUTELY.
    Whilst the albums first listen presents a solid and incredibly polished prescence, it’s on further listens that you truly start to appreciate the masterpiece that this album is.
    From start to finish it keeps its foot on your throat and doesn’t let you breathe. Engaging, thoughtful, and outstandingly crafted.
    The Storm Within rolls in with the sky turning evergrey, before the thunder and lightning hits, the rain comes down, and it pours sorrow, but once it’s all over the skies are everclear and you truly come to appreciate just how amazing this album truly is.
    I give it a solid 9/10.