In a scene populated by far too many clones, Sweden's kings of morose metal Evergrey have set themselves apart by finding a sound that is distinctly their own. That sound is instantly recognizable by the rich but rough vocal timbre of Thomas Englund. The band released their debut album "The Dark Discovery" in 1998, which was followed up with last year's excellent "Solitude Dominance Tragedy". Now their latest album entitled, "In Search Of Truth" showcases highly crafted textural weaves between formidably crunchy guitars and a vast array of keyboard sounds, the latter delivered by recently arrived virtuoso Sven Karlsson. The three albums form a rich library of gloomy metal tapestries that since day one, displayed a band steeped and studied in classical metal's extensive history.
"In Search Of Truth" is the band's first full blown concept album, as band mastermind Englund explains; "Throughout the previous albums we've had themes or mini-themes that involve alien abduction and this time around we wanted to make a whole album about that. The character is searching for the truth about what is happening to him. It's about a guy, say in his mid-'30s, that finds out strange things are happening to him. He's feeling very insecure, scared at night, scared of light, scared of darkness as well, and he starts to explore why. He meets with a psychologist who takes him into hypnosis and finds out that he has been taken away. He doesn't know he's been taken away from Earth but he does find out he's been abducted in some way, since he was five years old. All the stories revolve around him trying to find out what has happened to him and what damage it has done to his health, both psychological and physical."
Produced once again by King Diamond guitarist Andy Larocque (who also guests on slide guitar on the album), the results are signature Evergrey, even if creatively, the band has blossomed, aided and abetted by three new members, who have each contributed to the writing of the new album. "Sven, and Henrik actually contributed a hell of a lot more than I had originally planned because this has been my baby from the start. Sometimes it's quite hard to let somebody else in on it, but the ideas that they brought were so good, I had to use them" explains Englund.
Aside from Englund at the helm, drummer Patrick Carlsson is the only other original member present this time around, bringing his uniquely energetic drumming style to the music that seems to improve with each album. New to the fold and crucial to the gut-churning power of the band's guitar attack is Henrik Danhage. Henrik and Tom have together come up with some inspired twin leads that give rise to some of the album's most memorable moments. As well, Danhage brings a fluid Holdsworth-ian approach to the band, which, along with the myriad of tones used by keyboardist Karlsson, give Evergrey an intelligent progressive rock vibe far beyond the clich?arrangements used by their competitors. New bass player Michael Hakansson has also contributed to the band's sound, pounding out reverberating low frequencies truly demarcated from the other vibrant textures within the band's ancient, gothic-sounding psychological make-up.
Opening the new album 'The Master Plan' (which will also be accompanied by a video), gives a fine example of the album's panoramic power with its wide-angled keyboard washes and synth tones coupled with a deep groove and infectious chorus. Once again the band have utilized the talents of a real choir on the album, which adds an extra dimension to the dark and brooding power of the song 'Dark Waters'. Elsewhere on the album, the band paces itself well between instances of power gallop ('Rulers Of The Mind'), Sabbath-erian chug ('Different Worlds') and strong mellow moments ('Misled'), all three characteristics filtered through frosty Swedish sentiments, making for a morose cohesion despite the band's many facets.