Evergrey – Escape Of The Phoenix
Release Date: 26/02/2021
Running Time: 58:43
Review by Beth Jones
Swedish progressive metallers, Evergrey, are somewhat of a mainstay within the metal world, and you’re always guaranteed top quality musicality and production with their studio albums. The upcoming 12th studio album, “Escape Of The Phoenix”, is certainly no exception to this. But what I will say is that I didn’t reach this conclusion straight away. This is one of those albums that grows on you, and I’m glad that I gave it more of a chance, and more listen throughs, than I sometimes do when writing reviews.
In keeping with Evergrey’s unique style – heavy, melancholic, and progressive – this album has given Tom Englund more freedom to write hugely thought-provoking lyrics, on any subject (the previous three albums had to reign that in a little because they were a concept trilogy). And let me tell you that he has completely achieved what he set out to, and then some. Lyrically, this album doesn’t just hit you in the feels, it tears at them, rips them out, rubs them in your face, then stuffs them back in again. One such example of this is the beautifully sorrowful, ‘Where August Mourns’. The first section of the chorus speaks so much… “If I’m just aching this can’t go on, I came from chasing dreams to feel alone, There must be changes, miss to feel strong, I really need life to touch me…” If you’re having a wobble, lyrics like these can take you one of two ways, but they’re damn cathartic that’s for sure.
But that’s really the case with the whole album, both lyrically and musically. It’s the pleasure/pain – the juxtaposition of beauty and turmoil, living and existing, and the highs and lows of emotions, which Evergrey have a masterful way of capturing. And this is why it took me a few listens to really connect. It’s too deep to just listen to without really concentrating on it.
We get an extra special treat on track 5 ‘The Beholder’ because not only does it encompass the musical and lyrical mastery that is this album, but it has a guest performance from Dream Theater vocalist, James LaBrie, who Joins Tom for a superb duet. Tom has always cited Dream Theater as one of his big influences, so I can imagine that for him this would have been an epic experience, and it has created another amazing song.
This is one of the highlights of the album for me, along with ‘Stories’, ‘In Absence Of Sun’, and ‘You From You’, for their tenderness, and expansiveness; and ‘Forever Outside’ and ‘Escape Of The Phoenix’ for their thumping, punchy riffs, and almost industrial undertones.
Yup, I’m an emotional old sausage, and the more I listen to this album, the more it draws me in. It’s huge, it’s intricate, it’s as close as anyone will get to perfection production wise, and musically it’s interesting and challenging, as well as exceptionally talented. It started as a 6/10, but has crept up my scale with each listen, and could well end up being one of my releases of the year. I feel a little foolish to have even made a quick judgement of it to begin with. If anyone wants me, I’ll be in the garage flogging myself!
‘The Beholder’ feat. James LaBrie (Lyric Video)
01. Forever Outsider
02. Where August Mourn
04. A Dandelion Cipher
05. The Beholder (feat. James LaBrie)
06. In The Absence Of Sun
07. Eternal Nocturnal
08. Escape Of The Phoenix
09. You From You
10. Leaden Saints
Tom S. Englund – Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Danhage – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Rikard Zander – Keyboard, Backing Vocals
Jonas Ekdahl – Drums
Johan Niemann – Bass, Backing Vocals
Disclaimer: This review is solely the property of Beth Jones and Ever Metal. It is strictly forbidden to copy any part of this review, unless you have the strict permission of both parties. Failure to adhere to this will be treated as plagiarism and will be reported to the relevant authorities.