posted on 2/2011 By:
Modern Evergrey presents something of a conundrum – they are several things, and yet they are none of them. They are a progressive metal band that has completely stopped progressing, has, in the eyes of many, actually regressed. (That backwards motion is undeniable in the instance of their now-simplified arrangements, and the band’s stylistic stagnation is more evident with each album – a bit more on these later.) They are often labeled a power metal band, but they possess a moody semi-gothic darkness and a near-perpetual sense of midtempo pacing that pervades even their most uptempo moments, and the combination of those keeps them firmly to the side of the either the melodic Helloween-indebted European school or the thrash-tinged American crowd. And yet, with their symphonic arrangements and soaring choruses, radio-ready and pop-leaning, they’re still too anthemic for the down-gazing maudlinism of goth…
Of course, falling between the cracks of genre classifications is no crime – one could argue it’s commendable in today’s day of recycled and repackaged inspiration. And one would be right, although neatly pigeonholing a band certainly makes my job easier. Where Evergrey presents their most interesting exercise in duality is that the very traits most often hailed by their fans as the band’s best are often the same as those which their detractors cite as their worst. And again, a bit more on this in a moment…
In the years since 2008’s Torn, almost the entirety of Evergrey abandoned singer / mastermind Tom Englund – only keyboardist Rikard Zander made the transition. And yet, any fans concerned that Englund’s newest incarnation of Evergrey will somehow differ from the band’s established formula can rest assured that Evergrey circa 2011 is instantly recognizable as such. Guitarist Marcus Jidell fits neatly into the fold – Henrik Danhage’s tasteful lead-work was always the true highlight of Evergrey, at least to me, so it’s a positive surprise that I didn’t miss him, with Jidell’s work every bit as melodic and well-crafted. Stylistically, Glorious Collision does not break the mold set forth by the last two efforts, and in the spirit of true Evergrey dichotomy, therein lies its strength. And its weakness.
What Collision does properly is improve slightly upon the slightly lackluster Torn – even as it remains definitely Englund's show, to some extent, the new blood has done what new blood figuratively does and re-invigorated the body. Some of the sticking points of the previous few albums remain – the overwhelmingly pompous balladic moments remain overwhelming and pompous (witness closing track “…And The Distance”), and the decreasing reliance upon the band’s considerable musical chops in favor of more streamlined, commercial material continues to render them a bit less intriguing than before, especially when compared to similar-but-still-consistently-challenging outfits like Nevermore. Englund’s voice is still strong and, at times, soulful, but again, his moody swaggering presence is a divisive one – as much praise as criticism that I’ve read centers on his blustery lower range, his theatrically emotive style of melody and lyric. And in that drama lies the duality: evident in both Englund’s performance and the bombast of the material, which veers between keyboard-laden ballads, down-tuned chugging and those flying power-chord driven choruses, melodrama becomes the band’s defining trait, its most readily apparent calling card, its most distinctive flair, and to those not attuned to such pomp, its most egregious sin.
In the end, none of these is a particularly novel observation about modern Evergrey – these same compliments / complaints have been bestowed upon / leveled against Monday Morning Apocalypse and Torn before now, and Glorious Collision follows perfectly in line with those prior platters. And thus, fans will be ecstatic and the remainder will remain unconverted. Evergrey does what Evergrey does, and Glorious Collision is very much it. And in Evergrey fashion, I suppose that’s for better and worse.
Register to post comments.
Monday Morning Apocalypse
A Night To Remember - Live 2004 (DVD)
A Night To Remember Live 2004 (2 Disc Set)