Evergrey -Hymns for the Broken

One day, in these lands of Lady Obscure Music Magazine, while daydreaming lazily, I decided, before the promo arrived, I’d review the new Evergrey which of course, led to an epic arm wrestling match with Matt (aka Honey Badger) as he wasn’t going to give the opportunity up easily!

Long story short, many broken bones and torn cartilages later, I started thinking, building anticipation until I had my greasy paws on the promo…

What makes Evergrey so good?

Technically, I’d say it’s not that hard to describe what it is about their music that is so great: it’s a combination of factors. A blend of great melodies, energetic riffs, well thought-out song structures, dark lyrics, emotional climaxes… What would be extremely hard though is to imitate their music mostly due to Tom Englund’s unique vocals.

But Lord, do they make it seem so easy!

As for the album, it is just perfect Evergrey with all the classic elements and all in fine form, ladies gentlemen.

The songs on the album are exciting, varied, heavy, dark, catchy and hook-laden; quite intensely emotional, even heart-wrenching at places…

Did I say varied? Indeed it is… Each track has something different to offer. But goes without saying, the overall sound stays consistent and makes the album very engaging. It’s an album you can throw on and enjoy from start to finish. An album full of brilliant tunes; an album that shines from start to finish and perfect production to top it all off! It, needless to say, instantly struck a chord with me.

Yeah… That basically sums it up but I’ve got more to say! 🙂

Well, first off, this is no surprise to many of us as Evergrey has released some top albums like In Search of Truth, Recreation Day and The Inner Circle in the scene.However, I’m sure you’d remember the bleak news we got in 2010 that the band would part ways with Henrik Danhage, Jonas Ekdahl and Jari Kainulainen. The King of Errors video revealed that Henrik and Jonas were back though, taking away some of the hurt. I don’t know about you but I jumped up and down like a 5 year old who’s just handed a cone of ice cream out of nowhere when I heard that!

Yeah, they are a good team and of course we’re happy to see them back. And just as you would expect, they peak again here with this engaging album that will give you chills, make you sing along and head-bang, maybe even cry.

The writing is somewhere between The Inner Circle  and Recreation Day – the moody, emotional approach of The Inner Circle focussing more on the vocals blended with epic riffage from Recreation Day in a balanced manner I can only name as a win-win. But this one has superior polish, precision, level of refinement and sound! Yes ladies and gentlemen, Jacob Hansen nailed it again! The whole record just sounds so powerful and heavy.  Every song is near perfect (some being past near!) and the consistency of the record is incredible.

All musical elements deserve top honours for this feat, but I suppose, I’ll start at the top: the vocal department.

Tom’s voice is godly!  He has a unique, genuine voice that adds a nice touch to the music.

His vocals are gritty, raspy, piercing and powerful as ever and put the mood and atmosphere of the album into overdrive.

His voice has this natural quality to it, depressing and dark – in good ways – and Tom seems like he was born to sing this exact type of melodic rock. But that’s not to not take from his competent, convincing delivery as the man is capable of filling the listener with what seems to be the very core of Tom’s soul – mesmerising, powerful, tortured and hurting. Really nicely done on this album too; with great skill, fierceness and intensity hard to match.

I always loved the vocal harmonisation in Evergrey albums. I actually had the chance to watch Tom Englund harmonising vocals layer over layer when they were recording the new Epysode album Fantasmagoria in Belgium. He was so natural about it, so intense, the words hardly do justice but he is…

So. Damn. Good.

Oh, and extra points for keeping the band strong in face of the difficult times the band had to go through!

Tom’s vocal prowess is indeed the ace up Evergrey’s sleeve, but the rest of the band is in their zone here. They all pour a lot of energy and emotion into the music, so much so that it’s unforgiving. You give an inch, the music swallows a mile of your soul and a lot of it is coming from the guitars!

Well, Henrik is back! Let’s face it: his guitar playing has always been an integral part of Evergrey’s sound. So yeah, his presence here is huge and solos are bliss, to say the least. He makes a great team with Tom too as the duo throw a lot of flashy solos together. Seriously man! Guitar work is straight up killer on this album! Harmonies work so damn well with Tom’s vocals. Along with it, sudden shifts in tone actually brought me ever so closer to insanity. So well done!

Mmmm, the tone selections, yes! Love them! In fact, I’d go as far as saying Hymns for the Broken has, hands down the best guitar tones I’ve ever heard on any Evergrey album. So rich in both power and feeling!

On top of it, the duo’s phrasings, melodies, shreds are all simply top class. Mind you, it is straight up shredding but full of passion, melody and feeling. There are crushing riffs and gorgeous leads in the form of furious guitar playing with plenty of heaviness and exceptional melodies. What’s not to like?

It is almost impossible to pick one part over another as the eerie keys play the part of another driving force of the music. Mixing with guitars, they just create the nicest atmosphere you can almost – well, breathe. Rikard do a great job in both background support and with his tasty occasional leads giving the band’s sound a creepy vibe, adding tons of depth to the songs and with all that, pushing the album to another level, that of ascendance.

The rhythms are very pleasant at all times. Jonas’s drum work is top notch, and almost as much as the fact that he’s back, his blast beats are celebration-worthy and make intense music. I also love the production of the drums on this record. You can feel each of Jonas’s kicks resonating through your spine while each and every distinctly audible syllable lay down a solid rhythmic foundation for the band.

Hymns for the Broken is easily their strongest effort and indispensable cornerstone of their entire catalogue; I believe this album truly shows the heights they can reach and will pave the way for the band’s further success. It’s just great metal all the way through, with a terrific replay value.

All in all, this is a brilliant record which put Evergrey back on the map and from this point onwards, with the current line up I can see them being unstoppable.



Lady Obscure’s interview with Tom Englund in 2013

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