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Evergrey - "A Decade and a Half" (2-CD Set)

Evergrey - "A Decade and a Half" 2-CD Set cover image

"A Decade and a Half" track listing:

Disc 1
1. The Masterplan
2. Blackened Dawn (live)
3. Rulers Of The Mind
4. A Touch Of Blessing
5. Frozen
6. For Every Tear That Falls (live)
7. More Than Ever
8. Blinded
9. Faith Restored
10. These Scars
11. Broken Wings
12. Words Mean Nothing
13. Wrong (live) (unplugged - previously unreleased)

Disc 2
1.The Great Deceiver
2. Monday Morning Apocalypse
3. Wrong
4. Waking Up Blind (live)
5. Solitude Within
6. Recreation Day
7. Still In The Water
8. Leave It Behind Us
9. Fear
10. When The Walls Go Down (live)
11. Frozen (live) (unplugged - previously unreleased)

Reviewed by on March 7, 2012

"Thankfully, this compilation patches together a complete picture of the band over its 15-year existence."

Rarely is a 'Best Of' really the most representative of the band's best works. Most of the time, it's an attempt by the record label to cash in on the interim between certain albums in a band's career. With Evergrey's focus on lyrical themes throughout some of its records, a 'Best Of' might seem counter-intuitive to some listeners. Luckily, it doesn't turn out to be disastrous.

Thankfully, this compilation patches together a complete picture of the band over its 15-year existence. Separating itself from other Gothenburg metal acts, the focus on purely clean singing and painfully realistic and emotional lyrics have become the group’s trademark. The mates of Sweden's Evergrey have cemented a reputation as some of Gothenburg's finest musicians throughout the years with their melodic progressive metal.

Released in November of 2011, "A Decade and a Half" gives listeners more than enough material to get a good picture of Evergrey if they've never heard of the band before. Jumping off from the band's third album, "The Masterplan" begins the first disc and runs on into a track from the first record, "Blackened Dawn." Lead guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund's lyrics take on an especially Lovecraftian feel in some songs, often taking on fatalistic stances and getting at the heart of victimization, fear, guilt, outrage, and paranoia.

In "Rulers of the Mind," the band confronts conspiracy and helplessness through an expertly-played and highly melodic piano- and riff-driven approach. "A Touch of Blessing" feels oddly-placed, and will feel oddly placed to listeners that are already familiar with the band's discography. It feels like an opener in the middle of an album with its slow intro, which is exactly what it is. It doesn't feel like any pre-meditation was put into the ordering of the tracks. Included are songs from the live album/DVD, "A Night To Remember," as well as a couple of unreleased unplugged versions of songs from "Glorious Collision."

"The Great Deceiver" and "Monday Morning Apocalypse" kick off the second disc, which tends to focus a little more on the latter half of the Evergrey discography, but still remains fairly representative. First-time listeners will get to hear a logical blend of the various incarnations of the band from its most exploratory to its most concise, back to back. Familiar listeners won't find much new here, unless they consider it a plus that all the major songs are on two discs instead of interspersed throughout nine albums.

Highs: Concise compilation of the band's biggest tracks and songs from each album.

Lows: Not much value for already familiar listeners other than two unplugged tracks.

Bottom line: A flattering and sizeable 'Best Of" collection from Sweden's lords of fear and fatalism.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 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)