Review Summary: A barely satisfying compilation of the titans of dark, power prog.A Decade and a Half
is a 2-disc compilation summarizing Evergrey’s career, which up to this point spanned eight full length albums; it includes two live versions of songs, as well as two other previously unreleased acoustic versions. The compilation is reflective of Evergrey and gives listeners a satisfactory journey through their catalogue, but falls victim to some key omissions and strange inclusions.
A Decade and a Half
does not proceed in chronological order, and instead skips around in undiscernible fashion; for the hardened fan who is used to hearing songs in a specific order, this deviation is actually nice. The glaring omission of the album is maybe the group’s best song- “Mark of the Triangle,” which is also a mainstay of their live performances. I cannot for the life of me fathom why it would be excluded. Also perplexing, “I’m Sorry,” the highly popular heavy ballad from Recreation Day
, which even had a music video, is also nowhere to be found.
“For Every Tear that Falls” and “Blackened Dawn” are included as live tracks extracted from the A Night to Remember
DVD. Both of these are old songs from Evergrey’s 1998 debut record, and we can only speculate as to why these were put on as live tracks; it may be that the band wasn’t pleased with the production of their first record (which I would disagree with since the rough yet dark, cavernous sound of that album is awesome) or it could be as simple as a potential licensing issue. I can’t find any literature specifying. In similar fashion, the two acoustic tracks, “Wrong” and “Frozen,” are both from Evergrey’s oft-criticized album, Glorious Collision
, which has notoriously flat production. In this case, the band includes both the original recording and the live acoustic version. Performing these songs in the acoustic manner was a wise choice as it enhances the songs and allows Tom Englund’s morose vocals to really shine through.
No compilation record can put out a perfect track listing that will appease all listeners, but there also has to be a point where common sense reigns supreme. I understand the urge to include multiple tracks from all their albums--even weaker ones like Glorious Collision
and Monday Morning Apocalypse
—but doing so while snubbing iconic staples like “Mark of the Triangle” isn’t really defendable. And we know it’s not a licensing issue since other songs from In Search of Truth
are included here. Further still, why a relatively more bland song like “Fear” - that was never even used as a single, mind you - is here is yet another question. Why not opt for an “As I Lie Here Bleeding”, “Nosferatu”, or the unheralded gem of “Different Worlds”" Quality should always come first.
The record probably did what it was intended: create some revenue for the label, although not much else. A Decade and a Half
had the potential to be a juggernaut of Evergrey’s best work, but it doesn’t do the kind of justice that one of the most passionate, deep, thoughtful bands ever deserves. In essence, Evergrey are Evergrey--which alone makes the album highly enjoyable--but listeners can gain far more going through their discography album-by-album. The old iceberg analogy sums this up- there’s much more substance beneath the surface than what this compilation can offer.