Their previous album “Monday Morning Apocalypse” had not exactly been the pinnacle of their creativity and the reviews overall reflected that. Sweden’s EVERGREY had tried to experiment away from their characteristic sound overall getting somewhat more accessible, but at the same time losing some of the emotions and atmosphere that had made their previous efforts so outstanding. Now the guys are back with a new effort named “Torn” and from the first look, it seems like they are trying to go back into their more familiar waters, returning to Mattias Norén for the deep cover artwork, which raises hopes for that to be reflected in the music as well. So now the question is – can EVERGREY return to form and the brilliant albums of their not so distant past?
Well, opener “Broken Wings” already shows that at least for the beginning they indeed seem to be back in style, with the guitars nicely heavy, the keyboards very well implemented to create this subtle atmosphere and Tom Englund is one of Metal’s most instantly recognizable vocalists and his voice has this emotional quality that is hard to imitate and even harder to describe. Embedded into a clear and powerful production, the song sounds fresh and modern, but without being modern in the trendy way. And we don’t have to go any further than second track “Soaked” to come to the conclusion that the Göteborg band is back with a bang! The desperation swinging in Englund’s voice is one of the key factors in what made the band the powerhouse it is and he uses it to full effect without degrading it to a gimmick.
Especially in the guitar sound, EVERGREY anno 2008 are modern and up to par with the current production values, but the only thing they achieve with this is to take their very own sound and project them into the here and now. At the core of their compositions still are emotions, a myriad of different moods within the songs (without losing the accessibility, though), and as mentioned Englund’s voice, which is something of a make or break factor for many newcomers to the band, mostly due to his original delivery. I personally have been a huge fan of it ever since I had first heard him and “Torn” is no different, as he gives the songs this certain extra something to set them apart from the rest of the pack. And it is hard for me to pick particularly outstanding songs or my personal favourites, as they once more combine everything EVERGREY stand for, but without sounding like a copy of their successful albums (as in trying to simply emulate the previous formula), but one track that definitely stands out for me is “Fail”, because it really sucked me into “Torn”, with the desperate and almost desolate feeling coming through, all the while bringing these incredible melodies into play over the varied rhythmic approach.
The title track definitely has more accessible and catchy melodies on offer, together with a straighter approach, so that is a little bit of a leftover from the predecessor (probably the one closest to it), but at the same time it has the same depth as previous masterpieces. And closer “These Scars” brings some brilliant and expressive female vocals into play, which fit in perfectly and are a definitive asset to this band! It is good to see that the band recognized what their true strengths are and thankfully “Torn” does not sound forced, but makes “Monday Morning Apocalypse” look like an experiment gone somewhat awry, showing the almost logical evolution from “The Inner Circle”, just with the 2008 sound. Overall it is a very cohesive album that stands in full tradition of their best efforts and should be high in the Top 20 lists of many a fan, I know that it will rank high in mine, EVERGREY are in full swing again and I love it!
(Online December 9, 2008)