Wednesday, May 31, 2006
Evergrey: Monday Morning Apocalypse
Monday Morning Apocalypse Artist: Evergrey Year: 2006 Sweden's Evergrey has carved out quite a niche for themselves. I can think of no other band that really comes close to their brand of somewhat progressive, dark, and melancholic power metal. And with their previous five albums, they have built quite an expectation for their fans. Dark and brooding lyrics, excellent musicianship, powerful guitars, and distinctive, gravelly vocals have helped to make each album worth checking out. With a number of well-thought out and orchestrated concept albums now under their belts, what does the band have in store on their latest offering Monday Morning Apocalypse? Both less and more. Monday Morning Apocalypse sees Evergrey honing their trademark sound to a fine edge. Always impeccable musicians, their latest release focuses on a more intense, focused approach to the music. Some have already decried Monday Morning Apocalypse as a sell-out album, Evergrey's attempt to break into the mainstream. But rather than sell-out, this sort of talk sells the album short. Stripped from much of the pretension that is present on previous albums, this is a more open, more accessible, and more sincere Evergrey. But don't let that fool you. The thunderous guitars that make Evergrey so fun to listen to are all over the album. Pummeling riffs on such tracks as "The Curtain Fall" and "At Loss for Words" are carefully balanced with the balladry of tracks like "I Should" and "In Rememberance." Gone is the pomp of the concept album trying to tell a large, overarching story. Rather, we get an album of more self-contained songs. The lyrical work is undeniably dark and brooding, but that is what Evergrey does best. Likewise, lead singer Tom S. Englund's vocals continue to impress through understatement. He isn't going to hit any amazing, clarion clear high notes like John Arch, blow you away with his demonic growls like Mikael Akerfeldt, or wrap you in the warmth of his voice like Eric Clayton, but his gravelly baritone fits the mood of the music perfectly. In fact, that is what makes Monday Morning Apocalypse such a strong album: everything just fits together. The lyrics, the instrument work, the writing, all come together to create Evergrey's most focused effort to date. Tracks to Catch: "The Curtain Fall" has a some really killer, fast-paced guitar work. "At Loss for Words" balances the band's frantic aggression with its slower-paced style. "Monday Morning Apocalypse" is a powerful, in-your-face rocker that kicks the album off in a great way. "Till Dagmar" is a beautiful piano interlude. "Closure" is simply Tom Englund and a piano - an amazingly moving, open and vulnerable way to end the album. Rating: 4/5 Monday Morning Apocalypse is more than the sum of its parts. Less progressive than past releases in terms of concept and orchestration, yet more progressive if we really think about what that word means. This is Evergrey taking their sound and nudging it in a different direction. This is an album made by a band that is confident of its identity and is comfortable trying something that breaks its own mold, if even just a bit. Monday Morning Apocalypse gives us a peek at Evergrey at their most sincere, their most earnest, and their most focused.