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Evergrey - "Hymns For The Broken" (CD)

Evergrey - "Hymns For The Broken" CD cover image

"Hymns For The Broken" track listing:

1. The Awakening
2. King Of Errors
3. A New Dawn
4. Wake A Change
5. Archaic Rage
6. Barricades
7. Black Undertow
8. The Fire
9. Hymns For The Broken
10. Missing You
11. A Grand Collapse
12. The Aftermath

Reviewed by on September 3, 2014

"Evergrey has a certain magic in all the gloom…the ability to relate on so many human levels and translate those exact emotions to 'hymns for the broken' to follow."

Brooding…somber…foreboding…pain…..these are words most commonly used to describe the melancholy that exudes from Evergrey. Sweden’s juggernaut revered by progressive fans throughout the world. Those fans also happened to be the band’s harshest critics, almost as if there can be no alternative for the group but to meet the expectations of each and every one of them. It has been three years since “Glorious Collision” was released and met with a lackluster response, much like any album released since the last of the “Golden Four” (“The Dark Discovery,” “Solitude Dominance Tragedy,” “In Search of Truth,” and “Recreation Day”) in 2003. With some older faces back in the fold, perhaps the tide will turn with “Hymns for the Broken.” One thing is for sure….the album should turn some heads for even the hardened, as this is about as good as it gets.

I’ve always felt that Evergrey is a situational act when it comes to placing the right music with the right emotional state. When the mood is dark and there is a need for relaxation, there really is no better band to enjoy a favorite beer (…or ten) and let all the built up emotion just seep through the pores of your skin. It’s the quintessential “thinking man’s metal.” Deep thoughts about life and overcoming mental challenges are precisely what the songs on “Hymns for the Broken” evoke. The music represents deep mental therapy, which is necessary when facing life’s most cerebral issues.

With guitarist Marcus Jidel sadly out, the return of Henrik Danhage was a welcome sight. Perhaps his return will bring more therapy to the critics, who long for a day past. Jonas Ekdahl also returns behind the kit, replacing Hannes van Dahl, who went on to the tour machine that is Sabaton. One of the most noticeable things is that the guitar sound definitely has a little extra grind, which buzzes perfectly over the incredible atmospheric keyboard work of Rikard Zander. His flair is a perfect blend of punch and power, but not overbearing. The music seems to coast right along Zander’s darkened synth raincloud.

As each track moves along, the flow is predictably deliberate and portrays more emotional states than Sybil during a menstrual cycle. From “King of Errors” to “The Fire” (just over half way through), it is an exhausting 38 minute roller coaster. At this point, you might need a little break, as any of life’s bad feelings that needed to be expended have been slowly absorbed by Tom Englund’s smooth and poignant vocal delivery and Danhage’s passionate solos. “Archaic Rage,” with its emotionally taxing beauty, and “The Fire,” with a particularly fetching power riff and beautiful children’s choir – are two of the album favorites. “Black Undertow” and “The Great Collapse” have all the technical perfection you would expect from the best in progressive metal masterpieces.

For an album to demand this much introspection says a lot about the power of great songwriting. There was countless times where I was taken away on a weeping daydream of my late parents (“Missing You”), to thoughts of past relationship nightmares and a random kaleidoscope of moments both happy and sad. Evergrey has a certain magic in all the gloom…the ability to relate on so many human levels and translate those exact emotions to “hymns for the broken” to follow.

Highs: Emotionally demanding perfection in progressive metal.

Lows: Deliberate pace that may not appeal to those with a need for speed.

Bottom line: An emotionally draining album that truly represents the perfect hymns for the broken.

Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls
4.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)