I’ve watched the decline of many a good band within the Power and Progressive Metal realms, but EVERGREY takes my pick for the steepest plunge since MEGADETH put out “Risk”. They’ve always had sort of an unconventional character within the Power/Progressive realm due to the raspy yet almost Pop/Rock character of Tom Englund’s voice, but they carried it well with a good combination of somber atmospheres and technical musicianship. “In Search For Truth” was basically their musical zenith, as it maintained the Power Metal elements that they carried from their first and second albums, yet also included a lead guitarist and keyboardist who were proficient enough to match soloing wits with most in the style.
Their latest installment “Torn” essentially maintains nothing from that album other than Henrik Danhage’s wild and expressionistic leads, opting instead for a wide range of Metalcore, Groove, and Gothic Metal trappings. Now this is also something that NOCTURNAL RITES found themselves doing just 1 year prior, but here the results are not merely mediocre, they are downright revolting. There aren’t any actual hooks to speak of here, no draws to remind the listener of what song he has on, just a near endless stream of harmonically consonant yet vapid meandering.
Almost none of these songs are memorable, despite being pulled off fairly well and having a rock solid production. A classic and definitely the most blatant example of this is “When Kingdoms Fall”, which essentially establishes an atmosphere and works itself into a repetitive groove and just coasts for 5 ½ minutes straight. There’s no buildup, no resolution, just a hypnotic riff set and a flat ranged vocal performance that basically goes nowhere. “Nothing Is Erased” has a somewhat more active riff set, but it’s mostly down tuned Metalcore ideas with keyboards, ergo it stays in a formulaic box and doesn’t move out of it. If you took out Danhage’s solo section, this song could have been on a TRIVIUM album easily.
With a couple of exceptions, this Trifecta of repetitive groove riffs, Gothic keyboard overtones and Metalcore mannerisms in both the songwriting and vocals remains constant. The opening song “Broken Wings”, though heavily Groove oriented, actually has a fair share of solid melodic hooks and somewhat loosely resembles one of their earlier classics “Mark Of The Triangle”. The piano gives it a slight bit of a new NIGHTWISH character, but it’s enjoyable enough, though nowhere near what this band did years back. “Fear” is the best and the hardest edged song out of the lot, throwing out some riffs that actually move past 2 note chugging and elongated power chords. But as a whole, this is a veritable mountain of unmemorable, depressed, boring trite.
As far as I’m concerned, the terms Power and Progressive do not fit this album. At best, it’s a really bland version of Power Metal and Metalcore without the scream vocals. It’s not something that I would recommend checking out unless you are really into bands like KILLSWITCH ENGAGE, FIVE FINGER DEATH PUNCH, or other recent groovy Metalcore bands that are sure to be living it up on MTV’S Headbanger’s Ball. I’m not into this sort of stuff, and I doubt that any other self-respecting fan of either Power Metal or Progressive Metal will get anything out of this other than a desire to use this CD for an amateur discus throw competition in your backyard along with the latest releases by HUMAN FORTRESS and LABYRINTH.
(Online May 3, 2009)