Instead of boasting on the fact that we’ve yet to review an Evergrey record despite attempting to on multiple occasions, howzabout we just call an audible and start over? That said, clean slate initiative engaged! So yeah, Evergrey has been around for some time and is still one of Sweden’s Premier Progressive Power Metal outfits. If you’ve heard any of the eleven records that’ve come before then you’d know that fact to be true. Also true is that almost thirty years into their career and with album number twelve lurking on the horizon, Evergrey sound as vital and relevant as, ahem, ever especially on Escape Of The Phoenix.
Now firmly in the age of “written and recorded during a pandemic”, it’s impressive to listen through Escape Of The Phoenix and hear this vibrant sound while also being uncertain when the tracks will be able to get road tested. “Forever Outsider” practically leaps out of your chosen listening device with a stunning, triumphant Power Rawker to start off Escape… with Tom S. Englund’s sweeping passages blanketing the crushing stomp like a fresh coat of frosty snow. Yes kids, it’s that cool.
“Where August Mourn” keeps that energy up with Johan Niemann’s bass bouncing up and down as Rikard Zander’s synthetic sounds create a mystical, ethereal air and Henrik Danhage and Jonas Ekdahl’s guitars and drums respectively lay down a hearty crunch. Taking it down a notch, “Stories” is a piano-driven entry that eventually becomes this monolithic dirge that sways as it hums, bringing a veritable army of riffage to the party.
“A Dandelion Cipher” is prolific and pummeling with Englund’s vocal soaring high above during a distinctly anthemic chorus while “The Beholder” brings Zander’s synths to the forefront giving the track a more cinematic scope as it also brings Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie to the table whose tender tones provide a cathartic addition to Englund.
“In The Absence Of Sun” is a Gothic masterpiece with Zander’s performance sounding delightfully devilish to create an ominous atmosphere accented by Englund and Danhage’s Doom-laden guitar drones. Speaking of guitars, Danhage and Englund positively light it up throughout “Eternal Nocturnal” which is a particularly exciting romp before the majesty of the title track causes bouts of uncontrollable headbanging.
All of this sets the stage for “Run” which does just that as this sublime track heads to the finish line utilizing the full might of Englund, Niemann, Zander, Ekdahl, and Danhage’s combined musicianship for a thrilling finale.
Escape Of The Phoenix rises on February 26th through AFM Records. Get yer pre-order on now by heading here for a variety of formats. Fore more on Evergrey, follow the socials by clicking here, here, or here.