October 1, 2014 Evergrey – Hymns for the Broken (Album Review)
Gothenburg, Sweden is home to the melodic dark metal band Evergrey who first came onto the scene in 1995. Breaking out with their 1998 debut, The Dark Discovery, the band has followed with a list of engaging progressive Metal albums with a deepened twist. Returning in 2014 with their first studio album since 2011’s Glorious Collision, their tenth offering Hymns for the Broken is their first with new label AFM Records featuring Tom S. Englund (Vocals, Guitar), Johan Niemann (Bass), Rikard Zander (Keyboards), and the return of Henrik Danhage (Guitar) and Jonas Ekdahl (Drums). Many changes have occurred over the past few years as Danhage & Ekdahl left in 2010, interim drummer Hannes Van Dahl left in November 2013 to join Sabaton, and guitarist Marcus Jidell also left at that point; leaving the door open for a return. Featuring mixing and mastering by established Danish producer Jacob Hansen, who has worked with the likes of Volbeat and Doro, the band’s return comes with eager fans anxious to get their fingers on the latest epic tale of Evergrey.
More akin to a movie soundtrack than a series of songs, “The Awakening” is a spoken word track that introduces the audience to the story in a haunting and atmospheric matter. It then launches into the lead single “King Of Errors” with a stunning music video to accompany it. This powerful beginning to the album features impressive guitar work by Englund and Danhage and formidable drumming of Ekdahl. “A New Dawn” flows from a grinding guitar riff, to massive choral vocals, to electronic wizardry and is a journey all by itself. That is followed by “Wake A Change” which continues the tale with soul-wrenching harmonies and tumultuous rhythms. Then the heroic nature of “Archaic Rage” showcases Englund’s vocal prowess, leading into “Barricades” which is more desperate and expertly conveys the feel of the story at this point. “Black Undertow” is dark and doomed with tormented guitars rising majestically from the depths. On “The Fire”, children’s voices are utilized to give a backing to the main vocal at the start of the song, bringing the audience to the title track, “Hymns For The Broken” which see’s the return of hope and culminates with the sweetness of a choir. This bleeds into “Missing You,” a soulful piano piece, a lamentation, as the narrative heads for the climax of the tale with “A Grand Collapse.” This track brings heavy drums thundering masterfully to the very last song “The Aftermath” which is a sensitive and wretched termination of the album. Featuring powerful backing vocals of Chris Roy, it is both glorious and desolate, leaving the voyager without a happy ending.
Hymns for the Broken is an accomplished album full of imagery and dark themes. The songs work as stand-alone as well as part of the whole and there is a narrative that runs in and out of the music. In the same vein as such albums as Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds (1978); it draws the audience in, allowing them to be absorbed into the music. It is a classic storytelling, epic album, and the music is rightfully colossal in its huge powerful riffs, mammoth drumming and impassioned vocals. It will certainly become a favorite with fans of Evergrey and it is worth the wait. CrypticRock gives Hymns for the Broken 4 out of 5 stars.