Review Summary: Evergrey give a fresh take on what we're accustomed to.
I was initially not impressed with The Storm Within
. Like many other albums by Evergrey, however, it too has a way of slowly weeding it's way into your soul and grabbing hold - particularly the vocal melodies of Tom Englund. The Storm Within
is an interesting album because it marks the first time since 2004's The Inner Circle
where it's clearly a concept album, in this case, about the contrary sides of love due to physical distance and the resulting hardship that arises from it. This latest record feels like a complete piece of art where the pieces fit nicely as opposed to just a random collection of songs lumped together.
The leadoff single, "Distance", gathers small bits of everything that can be found on The Storm Within
and fuses it into what will likely be remembered as an Evergrey classic. After a simplistic piano melody--the type Evergrey have become renowned for--the song plunges into a tastefully done 7-string groove, and then chugs it's way through a melodic chorus and eventually a thick atmospheric bridge. Patric Ullaeus directed the music video and chose to film it in desolate Iceland which was a fitting choice with it's cold, stunning visuals to match the music.
The band capitalizes on this concept of feeling disconnected from loved ones by using dark, astral, planetary imagery and lyrics. The piano-driven ballad, "The Impossible", somberly carries on in this vain, "I cross the dark side of the moon, I'll do the same on the rings of Saturn, I'll stay awake through the Martian winter, but in the end what does it matter" It's impossible to be this alone."
The piano ballad here is the best they've done in that realm in a decade. In similar fashion, the other ballad "The Paradox of the Flame", Englund and wife Carina combine for their first duet together in nearly 20 years (the first time was "For Every Tear that Falls" on the 1998 debut record); the result is a mournful yet classy epic that's especially beautiful given the concept of the album.
The only substantial criticism I have of The Storm Within
is that in a few instances Evergrey venture too far into radio rock territory. For instance, "In Orbit", which features female vocalist Floor Jansen of Nightwish, the song is a brazen attempt at radio play. The verse and the chorus are borderline pop music, and it features the corniest lines of the album, "I'm in orbit, stars exploding, when I call your name, here in the dark I'm lonely, you're my compass."
It's hard to listen to at times, although admittedly catchy. Give the band credit though, they try to mask this pop song by interspersing heaviness throughout the track and also injecting a drawn-out bridge with multiple different riffs & solos presumably in an attempt to add in progressive value and balance the scales. To a thoughtful listener, it's not enough to hide the fact it's a pop song. Again, an admittedly catchy pop song.
The playing from the band is as respectable as ever, with Englund and Danhage ripping through solos in tandem still, as well as Jonas Ekdahl providing us another album of high quality drumming. One thing that does catch my attention is that Englund seems to labor a little more to hit the high notes, and the overall clarity of his voice is diminishing with age (see "Passing Through"); that said, the passion in his voice is still impeccable and he gets the job done with a high grade.
The Storm Within
has no major risks or style changes but the album has personality and a clear direction. Evergrey give us another round of the dark, melody-driven, heavy, twisting metal we've become accustomed to. The thoughtfulness of the record is very evident as it becomes increasingly infectious after a few listens. The Storm Within
is at least on par with 2014's Hymns for the Broken
and the band shows us they can still breathe new life into their well established sound. In sum, The Storm Within
should be considered yet another winner in Evergrey's catalog.