Tom Englund – Vocals, guitars
Henrik Danhage – Guitars
Rikard Zander – Keyboards
Jonas Ekdahl – Drums
Johan Niemann – Bass
1. A Silent Arc
3. All I Have
4. A Secret Atlantis
5. The Tidal
6. End of Silence
7. The Currents
9. The Beacon
10. This Ocean
“Life is like a journey, across the ocean.”
This is how Swedish, progressive metalheads Evergrey explain the title of their newest collection of songs: The Atlantic.
The album is the third part in trilogy that began with 2014’s Hymns For The Broken and continued in 2016, with The Storm Within.
The band describe this new chapter as being about “events and experiences in our lives – It’s about relationships, beauty and darkness, about fortune and grief, about love, hate, despair, joy and everything connected with it.”
Inspired by technical and compositional excellence, Evergrey are quite brazen in the belief that they represent the silver lining on the horizon of a music scene that has, in their words, become “trivial and contourless!”
Whether you agree with this statement or not, it’s difficult not to acknowledge the confidence in Evergrey’s performance as opening track, A Silent Arc comes galloping from the speakers.
Intended as the first single release from The Atlantic, vocalist Tom. S. Englund has explained his pride in this song. “It’s really brutal in a certain kind of Evergrey way, with guitars you might expect from a band like Behemoth – we’ve never sounded as dark and raw before!”
Personally, I’m not familiar enough with Evergrey to know if this represents a dramatic departure from previous albums, but the way they crank out the riffs alongside some tight double bass drum work certainly sounds like convincing heavy metal behaviour to my ears. The only thing that keeps this from sounding as dark as the band they make a comparison to are the melodic vocals from Englund, who has a robust, soaring mid-range with enough versatility to match the shifting dynamics of the music.
The album’s opening song is a good indication of the diversity of music on The Atlantic. The musicians break away from the heavy metal thunder, steering towards epic, hard rock passages and soaring guitar solos with obvious musical skill. The progressive elements are well integrated and tastefully arranged; this never feels like musicianship for the sake of it.
Weightless is a solid, industrial infused, melodic rocker with a riff that will get your neck snapping while the band’s solid clatter is sweetened somewhat by the layered vocal harmonies. It’s a repeated dynamic that quite clearly defines Evergrey’s diverse sound.
A song like All I Have takes the heavy grunge of Alice In Chains and somehow weaves in the epic balladry that a latter-day Whitesnake might offer on their more commercial releases. When that shifts towards the Gojra-esque pummelling of A Secret Atlantis, a song that hammers its riffs in with fierce intent, then eventually takes off into the stratosphere, before making the most prog statement of all with a well placed synthesiser flourish; it’s a conjuncture that cements Evergrey’s skill in taking a wide selection of influences and integrating them seamlessly.
The synths reappear on The Tidal, which is little more than an interlude to take us into the second half of the album.
What follows is a continuation on what has gone before. A mixture of heavy rock styles, expertly executed with impressive performances from all involved. Production-wise, I find The Atlantic veering backwards to an era when reverb and effects were used a little too liberally. It works for the most part but can occasionally sound dated. I guess that’s just a matter of taste, but it seems more apparent on the last few songs.
End Of Silence has a triumphant, power metal gallop and Currents will appeal to anyone who enjoys big rock guitars with even bigger rock choruses. Similarly, Departure is a lighters-in-the-air stadium crowd-pleaser, built on an epic crescendo that perhaps marks the band at their most radio friendly.
Playing us out on two solid rockers, by this point the album is less aggressive but still has thrilling moments. Most of these come from the dexterous guitar work of Tom. S. Englund and Henrik Danhage, who both deserve credit for their fiery and textured playing throughout the record.
In summary, The Atlantic is a bold offering that generally succeeds in justifying the band’s confidence in their abilities. It’s undeniably well performed and there is plenty going on that warrants repeated listening. Whether it truly represents the “silver lining” on a contourless musical landscape is a subjective matter, but if you like big, progressive, riff-fuelled, melodic songs then there is a lot to enjoy here.