Iím sure everyone has heard of Ikea before. The Swedish furniture giant made a huge name for itself by producing cheap, mass produced items for your home. Now there are tons of locations all over the world, and the company has made a silent killing with all the products they have moved.
Now, what is Ikea doing in a music review? Honestly, I donít know. The only correlation I can draw to it is that itís in Sweden, home of tons of terrific metal bands. The Gothenburg scene originated here, along with tons of influential bands that were shining beacons of light in the stale metal landscape.
Many associate Swedish metal with guitar harmonies, growled vocals, and more often than not, fast tempos. Which is all very true. Many of the bands in the Gothenburg scene tend to sound very similar as well, along with the countless of bands that they have knocked off. But to say ALL Swedish bands sound alike? Now that would be a bit presumptuous. You would be forgetting Evergrey.
Evergrey are one of those rare bands that actually have a sound all their own. While their counterparts were busy trading singers and writing guitar harmonies, Evergrey were coming up with their own form of music, which became branded ďdark melodic metal". Formed in 1995, Evergrey have had a (mildly) successful career, spanning multiple albums. They are currently supporting In Flames on tour as this is being written for their new album, and the focus of this review, Monday Morning Apocalypse.
Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse
- April 4, 2006 on InsideOut Records
Tom S. Englund - Lead Vocals/Guitars
Henrik Danhage - Guitar/Backing Vocals
Michael Hakansson - Bass
Rikard Zander - Synths/Keyboards/Backing Vocals
Jonas Ekdahl - Drums
What kind of music are the almighty Evergrey, you may ask? Itís actually rather hard to describe them...itís a blend of semiprogressive heavy metal with added keyboards in the background, and sung vocals. They are capable of balls out heavy moments and soft ballads, and, of course, everything in between.
Firstly, Englund. The man has one of the most awesome voices in metal. It stands out instantly, though I really donít know why...heís a powerful singer, no doubt. Not in the vein of Russell Allen styled power, but in the sense that he will still captivate you throughout an album. Highly enjoyable to listen to, he is also the man credited with keeping Evergrey the band they are. He stayed with them throughout all of their albums, guiding the group with his creative prowess.
Both Englund and Henrik are no slouches at guitar either. Creative riffs and solos abound, they know what they are doing, and do it with the utmost of flair.
However, this release is a bit of a departure from Evergrey. Granted, it still has all the elements contained in their earlier releases, but it seems that theyíve done away with the prog, and cranked up the dark melodic knob even more, past (gasp!) 11. This whole album is very sad, much like their others, and itís quite a bit simpler to listen to, but thatís what makes it so good. Itís easily accessible, yet it still contains enough talent, originality, and technicality to shock and awe. Itís a crying shame that people donít listen to this band.
One thing I noticed on here thatís different than their others is there are TONS more piano parts. Whereas Rikard usually took a step back and did backgrounds for the earlier albums, on this release he has plenty of piano parts, often making the song interesting over the simple yet effective guitar patterns.
He is quite good at his respective instrument, and never ceases to disappoint.
Another noteworthy aspect of the band is the guitar tone. Well, I find it noteworthy anyway, but Tom and Henrik have an instantly recognizable tone. Itís still metal, but in a way thatís different from others. Maybe itís the fact that theyíre NOT using ESP guitars with EMG pickups, but whatever it may be, itís a nice addition.
A few recommended tracks for your liking:
Monday Morning Apocalypse
- The first track wastes no time in showing you the might of the almighty drunken Swedes. Blasts straight into a heavy riff, and Englund comes in right after it. He improves his voice every release, and itís a real treat (as said before) to listen to him. Great riffs and solos abound.
- Awesome piano part in the intro and a high tempo keep this one interesting. Tomís pissed off in the verses, which lends another level to the music.
Still In The Water
- The longest song on here, THIS one is quite the masterpiece. An EXTREMELY heavy riff fades in, and the song goes through a whirlwind of changes. Quiet moments, heavy moments, time changes, great riffs, great piano, best solos on the album, this song has it all. Definitely a must hear.
The Dark I Walk You Through
- My personal favorite off of the album. The guitars are completely unoriginal, the song is simple as hell, and it would just seem like a really boring listen. How the hell does it end up the best song on the album then? No idea. It has all the elements to be a stinker, but it ends up being amazing, partly because of Rikardís piano and the sheer emotion in the piece. THIS is the one to listen to off of the album, hands down. Just trust me, youíll love it.
- Itís listed as a bonus track...not sure why. Just Rikard and Englund on this piece. Itís very pretty, and very sad at the same time. Evergrey have made a habit out of closing their albums with piano and voice ballads, and this is no different.
- Coming off of what I think was one of their best albums, The Inner Circle, this one takes a step down in the writing department. However, what it lacks in that category (it doesnít lack much, mind you), it makes up for in catchiness. Now, donít get me wrong, the catchiness isnít a crutch for subpar music (what I like to call the Lacuna Coil method). Thereís plenty of complicated patterns to be had on here. The catchiness just makes it that much more enjoyable. Any fan of Evergrey would be proud to hold this release up high. And hopefully, it will inspire some closed minded asshats to actually take a look at this band, because, even though itís not on MTV, itís unbelievably GOOD. And ORIGINAL.
Final Rating - 8.5/10