Evergrey_Hymns to the BrokenEvery few years like clockwork, Evergrey shows up to expose their innermost turmoil, angst and self loathing and generally harsh our collective mellow with their unique brand of misanthropic dark metal. Few bands are as adept at expressing the inner doubt, depression and ennui that make the human experience such a flawed one, and for that they certainly deserve praise and respect. Whether you care to have those particular emotions rubbed raw is a personal decision, but for those who relish their scar diaries, this act always provides the ideal soundtrack for ritualized self abuse. Mixing elements of traditional metal with goth rock and taking it deeper and more personal than most bands would willingly allow, Evergrey‘s songs often become voyeuristic therapy sessions with someone so deeply hurt and ruined, you know they can’t be helped. Through this grim process, they arrive at some beautifully tragic, gorgeously dark anthems and Hymns to the Broken is their most accurate album title thus far, clearly warning of what’s to come (even as the Soviet propaganda cover does not). It may not be their best work, but they never release a bad album and this delivers more than its share of heartbreaking sonnets to the lost and damaged.

If you’ve heard any Evergrey album since In Search of the Truth, you know what to expect here. Melodic tunes backed by moderately heavy guitars, often executing fairly simple riffs that can at times veer too close to metalcore/nu metal ideas. The icing on every slice of Evergrey cake is Tom Englund’s wounded, plaintive vocals which pack more emotion than anyone in the emotion business. On songs like “King of Errors” this creates the perfect shitstorm of day ruining despair, hitting all the “kill me now” buttons this kind of music lives (and dies) by. It’s the typically beautiful and haunting kind of song Evergrey has specialized in for years and shows them at their bleeding heart best. Other major standouts include the truly grim, emotionally raw “Black Undertow” where Englund dominates things with his ‘broken man’ singing, and the poignant title track which overflows with sad vocals and beautiful guitar work.

Similarly effective set pieces include “A New Dawn,” which is wonderfully bleak, despite the hindrance of some core-ish riffing, and “Wake a Change,” which is pretty and dark. Also of high quality is the somber “Missing You” which is the “Waking Up Blind” of this album and Englund owns these kinds of ballads completely. The balance of Hymns is good to very good, with only “The Grand Collapse” spitting the bit due to over length and dullness.

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As good as most of the material is, at over an hour, this is too long for an album so crammed full of soul killing anthems. I can only absorb so much ‘head in a noose’ material in one sitting and by the last three tracks I found myself consciously uncoupling despite my appreciation for what was going on. This kind of stuff cries out for an emotional blitzkrieg approach, carpet bombing the listener with sadness over eight or nine tracks then leaving them alone to pick up the pieces of their wounded psyche. Anything more merely dilutes the overall impact.

From a musical standpoint, Evergrey completely revolves around the charismatic vocals of their front man. Englund makes them what they are and his singing is what puts butts in the seats. His passionate and despairing vocals always deliver and lift all the songs a notch or two. The accompanying guitar work by Henrik Danhage and Englund (and much of the rest of the music) often feels like an afterthought or so much supportive gravy. Their solos are generally solid and occasionally beautiful, but their riffs can be too simplistic and straight forward. This leads to some flat moments, like on “The Fire,” where the guitars just kind of lay there and leave it to Englund to save the day.

On a curious note, the lyrics seem to be telling the downtrodden that they aren’t alone and it’s ok to be hurt and crestfallen, which is a pretty ironic message concealed as it is in this deep morass of wrist opening music.

Hymns for the Broken delivers exactly what it advertises and though it’s less immediate than Glorious Collision, it’s deeper and darker. A cathartic listen to be sure, but as arduous and exhausting as always and certainly not for the bright and shiny people out there. I need to go stand in the sun for a while and look at the flowers… just look at the flowers.


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 7  |  Format Reviewed: 320 kbps MP3
Label: AFM Records
Websites: evergrey.net  |  facebook.com/Evergrey
Release Dates: EU: 2014.09.26  |  NA: 09.30.2014

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  • Ingvar Árni Ingvarsson

    So what you’re saying is that Tom Englund has been swapping lyrics with Jonathan Davis, is that right?

    • Well, I suppose, except that Davis sucks.

  • Kronos

    “King of Errors” has a pretty cool Dark Tranquillity vibe to it. Nice stuff.

  • “This kind of stuff cries out for an emotional blitzkrieg approach, carpet bombing the listener with sadness over eight or nine tracks then leaving them alone to pick up the pieces of their wounded psyche. Anything more merely dilutes the overall impact.”

    That’s one quality paragraph right there haha.

    I’d love to hear this album right now. I sort of lost track of these guys after Recreation Day but I remember really digging them back then. Maybe it’s time to catch up.

    • I would recommend starting off with The Inner Circle. That might be their finest hour.

      • I’ll check it out. Thanks.

      • Jose Barajas

        I would agree. My brother got me into Evergrey with Inner Circle and I listened to that album so much. Depending on the band, I’m not much of a lyrics guy so I can easily look past Evergrey’s melancholy and often heavy words and appreciate the musicianship. I know they started to get a bit more progressive and less heavy with Monday Morning but I loved that cd. Kinda lost track with the last album, but in terms of progressive, classic heavy metal mixed with almost motownesque soulful singing, you can’t really beat inner circle

  • Requiem

    King of Errors has me mightily intrigued. It reminds me of a wounded Amorphis minus the growling.

  • Shawn Cypher

    I saw these guys live in… 2006 or so (It was when Monday Morning Apocalypse came out). It was the first time I had ever heard them, they were great. I was within arm’s reach of Tom, who has an amazing stage presence. The concert itself was with In Flames and Nevermore, both were very good, but Evergrey ended up being my favorites of that show. I bought that album the next week and have followed them since then. I look forward to picking up this release.

  • Jose Barajas

    I’ve always tried to hype up Evergrey when I could. They are a band that I think transcend the cheesiness of all the derivative heavy metal bands they get lumped together with but their progressiveness is unique all their own. Just like you mentioned, I would say Englund’s voice is what attracted to me this band. Inner Circle was my first Evergrey record and they just had a unique sound that was different than what I was listening to at the time. Englund has such a soulful voice that I can overlook their lyrics and listen solely to the music. His voice is a rare one in metal. I will definitely be picking this cd up

  • Peter

    Great review. I have been a fan since “Inner Circle”. This album again solidifies all the reasons I listen to Evergrey. While saying I am enjoying the album sounds not quite right, I am appreciating it and listening to it regularly.