Evergrey

Unleash the Archers – Phantoma Review

Unleash the Archers – Phantoma Review

“After a two-part series where we saw Immortal converge through trials and tribulations, this year’s Phantoma tosses us into the future (12089, specifically) where AI rules supreme. Presumably inspired by the new wave of AI technologies out there, Unleash the Archers taps into those influences to create a hypersonic sci-fi soundtrack filled with a smattering of synthesized guitar leads and heavy keyboard action to deliver the power metal version of Skynet.” Archers in the machine.

Ivory Tower – Heavy Rain Review

Ivory Tower – Heavy Rain Review

Ivory Tower have been a minor force in the Germanic prog-metal scene since 1998. I didn’t pay them much heed over the years, but that all changed when I took a flyer on their 2019 album Stronger. Expecting little, I walked into a buzzsaw and was quickly carved up by a highly catchy and memorable platter of vibrant prog metal led by the powerhouse vocals of one Dirk Meyer. It ended up on my Top Ten(ish) of 2019 and became one of my all-time favorite prog-metal releases. Naturally, I wanted a lot MOAR of the same from Ivory Tower.” Foundational instability.

Noveria – The Gates of the Underworld Review

Noveria – The Gates of the Underworld Review

“Ah, Noveria. When I first encountered this talented bunch on sophomore album Forsaken, the clash between the overt melodrama and the serious subject matter forced me to leave a middling score. But 2019’s Aequilibrium was a huge improvement. It was almost like the band had used my review as a template for what to fix, making strides in songwriting, execution, and production alike.” Peak and Death Valley.

Redemption – I Am the Storm Review

Redemption – I Am the Storm Review

“Call me olde and jaded, but I tend to be suspicious of bands that bear the “supergroup” imprimatur. Cautious though I may be, I’ve been a fan of Redemption since their launch way back in 2003. The brainchild of guitarist extraordinaire, Nicolas van Dyk, the project has benefitted from some exceptional frontmen over time, such as Rick Mythiasin (Steel Prophet, New Eden) and Ray Alder (Fates Warning, A-Z), and since 2018s Long Night’s Journey into Day, they’ve had Evergrey’s Tom Englund on the mic.” Forgiveness is more than saying sorry.

Borealis – Illusions Review

Borealis – Illusions Review

“With the stunning, back-to-back releases of Fall From Grace and Purgatory, it isn’t easy to imagine the band could ever top them. So, when 2018’s The Offering surfaced, I knew the very thing I feared had come true. The passion so instrumental to the band’s success felt zapped from the songwriting. And, where it was weakest, the orchestration was heaviest—as if trying to hide the lack of emotion found in previous releases. As I said in my review of The Offering, it’s still a strong enough album to revisit and enjoy. But something was missing. This year’s Illusions is a sequel to The Offering’s story. But will it be a sequel to that album’s struggling delivery?” Fire in the sky, bombast in the pie.

Alex Nunziati – Il Mangiatore di Peccati Review

Alex Nunziati – Il Mangiatore di Peccati Review

“After forming and performing with Italy’s Theatres des Vampires for many years, Nunziati left to pursue other avenues. The most famous of these was his gothic, symphonic black metal spin-off, Lord Vampyr. With a gnarly rasp that brings to mind the mighty Cadaveria from her stint with Opera IX, Nunziati carved a name for himself alongside compatriots of his defunct Shadowsreign. But Nunziati hasn’t stopped there—preferring to keep himself busy with other creations and contributions, like Cain, Hermeticum, Iamthemonster, and Malamorte. And now, as if Nunziati can’t help but continue creating new ventures to quench his creative thirst, he brings us a debut record under his own name.” Circus of freakshows.

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) Review

Evergrey – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) Review

“It is the circle of life. The Lord taketh and the Lord giveth back. Not seven weeks ago I was slated to review the new Satan album, when it was ripped from my hands by our Ungracious Leader. I bit my tongue as long as I could, waiting for the right moment for revenge, and that moment has come! For here I am, coming out of nowhere to steal this new Evergrey album from his hairy mitts.” Evergrabby.

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

Evergrey – Escape of the Phoenix Review

“2021 will see the release of a wealth of albums written and recorded during the COVID pandemic. This phenomenon will likely impact records in a myriad of ways. Some will directly reflect the times in concept, lyrics or atmosphere. Others may benefit from bands having additional time stuck in lockdown together to hone their compositions. In the case of Evergrey’s 12th album Escape of the Phoenix, the latter appears to be the case.” Firebirds, energy weapons.

Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium Review

Vanishing Point – Dead Elysium Review

“It looks like Olde Man Huck and I are carrying the entire prog-power burden on our creaky, arthritic shoulders these days. With Awake by Design and Assignment already offloaded, I’m lugging the new Vanishing Point opus to the finish line all by my aged lonesome. This long-running Aussie prog act has been silent since releasing Distant is the Sun way back in 2014 and I’d given them up for dead, but here they are with their sixth album Dead Elysium and a new drummer and bassist in tow.” Unvanished.