Evergrey
Theories of Emptiness


3.8
excellent

Review

by Brendan Schroer STAFF
June 11th, 2024 | 60 replies


Release Date: 06/07/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A cinematic form of sorrow

Of all the major bands who mix progressive metal and power metal, Evergrey have had one of the cleanest 50/50 ratios of the two. Sure, you can label Symphony X power/prog, but they clearly lean on the prog metal side; hence all the comparisons to bands like Dream Theater. On the other hand, groups like Blind Guardian and Kamelot – while having prog hallmarks like weird time signatures and elaborate arrangements – are still power metal at their core. But Evergrey? They meld the genres together in a near-seamless way, which is crucial to the atmosphere and aesthetics they’re going for. It allows them to explore a sound that’s equal parts propulsive and tragic; anthemic and haunting; upbeat and pensive.

Let’s take their most celebrated record for example. 2001’s In Search of Truth is a glorious marriage of complex songcraft, a haunting atmosphere, dramatic vocals, and a little dash of power metal cheese; the final result is one of the most compelling metal records of the 2000s. And frankly, that power/prog mix was a big reason that it worked so well. After all, how else could the band explore an outlandish concept (alien abductions), while exhibiting such an impressive sense of drama and mystery? For that last part, you can also thank frontman Tom S. Englund. The guy can read the damn phone book and make it interesting, as he’s adept at treating any subject with just the right level of grace and contemplation. And as Evergrey have soldiered on, Englund has applied this talent to a wide range of topics – be it religion, child abuse, personal strife, or cults.

The group’s newest offering Theories of Emptiness is largely a continuation of their trademark sound, but there are some notable tweaks to the formula this time around. The first change might not be immediately evident on opener “Falling from the Sun”, as this track is your quintessential Evergrey scorcher – rapid-fire chugs, anthemic chorus, impressive guitar wizardry, all that good stuff. But the second tune, “Misfortune”, reveals the record’s most standout feature: the fact that it sounds fucking huge. Much of this is attributed to the vastly improved production, which allows for a more spacious and panoramic take on the band’s sound. As the chasmic riffs of “Misfortune” lumber on, you can hear every little intricacy around you: the orchestral backdrop, the twinkling keyboard melodies in the verses, the subtly shifting bass lines, everything.

This larger-than-life approach applies to much of the tracklist, whether we’re talking about the sweeping gothic choruses of “Cold Dreams” (featuring Jonas Renkse of Katatonia fame!) or the soaring guitar harmonies of “One Heart”. But this isn’t to say the band watered down their sound in the process – the “Imagine Dragons-ification”, if you will. Instead Theories of Emptiness simply introduces a few new twists to their tried-and-true style. And while this is a decidedly less intense and heavy record than we might be used to from Evergrey, the moments in which they do exhibit that energy are as effective as ever. Take “We Are the North”, for instance: atmosphere and aggression collide, as the cinematic keys provide a backdrop for a series of off-kilter Meshuggah-esque chugs. Meanwhile, “Say” locks into an incredible midtempo groove for its main riff, which is equal parts heavy and catchy.

The other shift found on Theories of Emptiness is in the lyrical content – which is to say that it’s a bit more obtuse this time around. Much like The Fall of Hearts by the aforementioned Katatonia, this offering opts for a more abstract take on Evergrey’s usual topics. But it still effectively communicates the same feelings of melancholy, despair, and – of course – emptiness. The album title is pretty apt, as each song seems to explore the concept of emptiness in its own unique way. “Falling From the Sun” sets the stage for this quite nicely, as it details the age-old fight against one’s own darkness and desolation. From there, we get themes of identity (“To Become Someone Else”), personal loss (“Ghost of My Hero”), and general hopelessness (“Cold Dreams”), before wrapping everything up with the closing title track. The lyrics will certainly not be for everyone, as they tend to be very bleak and somber; still, I can’t deny that they’re compelling all the same.

Despite the changes I mentioned, this is still an Evergrey album at the end of the day. It retains the group’s core power/prog sound – albeit slower and more atmospheric this time around – and delivers the same dark, brooding energy they’ve given us for decades now. Theories of Emptiness doesn’t quite reinvent the wheel, but at this point in their career, I don’t think the band are striving for a radical reinvention anyway. This is just an incredibly solid slab of melodic metal, delivered with the band’s signature technical prowess and haunting vibes. Or in other words, another worthy entry in the vast Evergrey canon.



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user ratings (40)
3.7
great

Comments:Add a Comment 
Koris
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


21301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Been a while since I've put a review out... hope I'm not too rusty, lol



Anyway, this is really good stuff. Definitely one of my favorite modern Evergrey records



Voivod
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


10771 Comments


Great review, virtual pos.

I'm a casual listener of the band - out of the 3-4 Evergrey albums I listened to, my favourite is The Inner Circle - but from the little I've heard, I think that Evergrey started as power/prog, but from the middle onwards, their style became an atmospheric/melodic groove metal thing, only they can play and emulate convincingly.

This album definitely fits the description, at least from where I'm standing.

Sound work is good, but I would like the guitars rawer/heavier/livelier.

I don't like the fact that I need to crank up the volume, to feel the heaviness.

Koris
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


21301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

Thanks, I appreciate it! And yeah, I've also noticed a lot more slow groove-oriented passages in their later stuff. But somehow they still manage to make it work... I think their reliance on atmosphere has a lot to do with that



I suppose the production does make things a bit too glossy from time to time, but I don't think it's too much of a hindrance here

bloc
June 11th 2024


70370 Comments


This is really good. I forget how good the solos are in this band

Koris
Staff Reviewer
June 11th 2024


21301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

^ Yeah, Englund and Danhage are one hell of a guitar duo in general

LilLioness
June 12th 2024


3566 Comments


Prog with Power, eh? Generally a combo that doesn't work for me.

Quality review.

grandbazaar
June 12th 2024


147 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Personally the power metal elements are mostly gone. Since their album Hymns for the Broken, they have been more of a mixture of heavy metal and prog, reliant on building dark atmospheres.

LilLioness
June 12th 2024


3566 Comments


Hmm, may need to check

Koris
Staff Reviewer
June 12th 2024


21301 Comments

Album Rating: 3.8

They definitely placed a lot more emphasis on groove over the past few records, that's for sure. I do think the power metal elements are still there to an extent, just mixed in with some additional influences and styles to keep things fresh

Kopkiwi
June 12th 2024


75 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

This album just doesn't miss for me, no skippable songs, absolutely fantastic album.

Piripichotes
June 12th 2024


805 Comments


I can't keep up with all the amazing metal being released this year FFS

Arked
June 12th 2024


160 Comments


The only band with power metal in tags that I was able to enjoy. Gotta check this out.

Dedes
Contributing Reviewer
June 12th 2024


10098 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Evergrey rule

For as corny as the subject matter can be they have an impressive level of tact

Also vocalist has the heartiest most lovely operatic tone sweet lord

SomeCallMeTim
June 12th 2024


4214 Comments


with literally every other power metal band I've heard, it's always been insanely difficult for me to consider this band remotely power metal. Easily one of the best prog metal bands though, and absolutely in part to Englund's vocals. Torn was an p good record but I think that was my favorite vocal performance of his

Anthracks
June 12th 2024


8067 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nowhere near as good as the last two. pretty much just a rock band now

ThatDude
June 12th 2024


113 Comments


I loved all their albums since Hymns for the Broken, but I cannot seem to ''get'' this one after 2 listens. Gonna have to give it more chance. Great review.

Pikazilla
June 12th 2024


30048 Comments


ngl the previous two were much better imo

henryChinaski
June 12th 2024


5050 Comments


artwork reminds me of Enter Shikari's The Mindsweep

DarkSideOfLucca
June 12th 2024


18185 Comments


Uh never heard of this band, but I guess they have 14 albums

That sounds like a lot

Thranth
June 12th 2024


1539 Comments


i see how you people have tens of thousands of comments now
fckn lucca lol



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