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Evergrey - "Glorious Collision" (CD)

Evergrey - "Glorious Collision" CD cover image

"Glorious Collision" track listing:

1. Leave It Behind Us
2. You
3. Wrong
4. Frozen
5. Restoring the Loss
6. To Fit the Mold
7. Out of Reach
8. The Phantom Letters
9. The Disease
10. It Comes From Within
11. Free
12. I'm Drowning Alone
13. ...And the Distance
14. ...And the Distance (female vocal bonus track on spec ed)

Reviewed by on February 9, 2011

"Englund’s voice is perhaps at its most transparent on this album, digging into the feeling of the lyrics even more than before."

Sweden’s melodic metal titans Evergrey are on their eighth album, a feat matched by only a few Swedish bands such as Soilwork, Dark Tranquillity, and In Flames. Indeed, if there were a "Big 4" of Sweden, it would be these four bands, with Pain of Salvation right behind them with seven albums. Despite being called "progressive metal," Evergrey has remained consistent with their sound from album to album, rather than drastically changing. For "Glorious Collision," the band blended their signature elements even more.

The album opens up with ethereal vocals, and then thrusts the listener into a galloping storm of metal. Right away, one thing is notable – Rikard Zander’s keyboards have taken a more prominent position in the mix, especially when compared to the last album, "Torn," on which Zander was barely heard. This change is likely due to the band’s lineup change. The loss of a guitarist, bassist, and drummer left the band as a duo - guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund and Zander. The "Glorious Collision" line-up includes the formidable guitarist Marcus Jidell, bassist Johan Niemann, and young drummer Hannes Van Dahl.

Songs such as "Leave it Behind Us," "Free," "Restoring the Loss," and "The Phantom Letters" give Zander room to add key atmosphere-setting piano lines, and a synth/symphonic backing treatment is on almost every song. Englund’s lyrics have taken on a bit more weight and depth, like on "Restoring the Loss;" "Don’t ask me to stretch any longer. These arms are strained beyond what they can take. Don’t ask me for strength, ‘cause it’s gone and I’ve reached my end." The lyrics generally revolve around struggle, pain, regret and suffering.

Evergrey has always been primarily known for Englund’s voice. The blues may have been born in America, but this Swede uses his bluesy range to great effect in metal. Englund’s voice is perhaps at its most transparent on this album, digging into the feeling of the lyrics even more than before. "Wrong," "…And the Distance," "The Disease," and "The Phantom Letters" are some high points for vocals.

Evergrey has also been known for the huge choruses, backing female vocals and dual guitar leads, which are a combination of soul and shred. Englund’s wife Carina fills out most of the choruses very well with 2-3 parts, making the choruses huge. Jidell contributes several immense solos on the record and pushes the dual guitar bits to new heights, like on "Restoring the Loss," "To Fit the Mold," and "It Comes From Within," as well as the huge section in "The Phantom Letters," easily one of the best Evergrey songs ever. As far as bass goes, Niemann is as subtly technical as previous bass players and isn’t really given a chance to shine out in front in Evergrey. Van Dahl’s drumming is nearly identical to past drummers, which is a very good thing.

The one thing thing holding this album back from being truly excellent is the production. The guitars are less clear than on previous albums, except for the leads, and the snare drum sounds raw and unmixed compared to the rest of the instruments. When a band has amazing production on previous albums (see: "The Inner Circle," "Recreation Day"), it sets a precedent that the band should try to meet with future albums.

The new blood in Evergrey luckily hasn’t moved the band away from their style one bit, and has even improved the key parts of the sound established on the past seven records. This goes to show that this well-oiled metal machine just got an upgrade. All in all, this is a solid, emotionally gripping, and consistent album that finds the band at the height of their songwriting.

Highs: The line-up change has improved the sound, virtuosic but soulful guitar solos, more keyboard, and Tom Englund’s echo-heavy soulful voice.

Lows: Snare drum sound isn’t very lively, guitars are a little buried.

Bottom line: A solid, emotionally gripping, and consistent album that finds the band at the height of their songwriting.

Rated 4.0 out of 5 skulls
4.0 out of 5 skulls


Key
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)