Evergrey means so much to me. Yes, I am an unashamed fanboy of their dark, melodic, and instantly recognizable sound. Their comeback with AFM Records has been a shining beacon of hope in my personal world of metal, as both “Hymns for the Broken” and “The Storm Within” proved to be some of the best records they ever produced. Now we have “The Atlantic” releasing on the 25th of January, and the question in my mind was whether or not their streak could continue (though I would say their streak started in 1998) while also progressing and evolving the sound of the band. The answer is simple: Yes.
The band still retains what I consider to be the classic lineup: Tom S. Englund on vocals and guitars, Henrik Danhage on guitars, Rikard Zander on keys, Jonas Ekdahl on drums, and Johan Niemann on bass. These guys have played together for so long that they pull things off seamlessly. Tom’s vocals are larger-than-life and as emotive as ever; and the instrumentation is lush, atmospheric, and heavy-hitting.
“The Atlantic” is heavier, more progressive, and unrelentingly emotional. It is heavy, both musically and also in how it weighs on your heart. The lyrics to “The Storm Within”, in fact, are clarified somewhat on this album, though I won’t get into the band’s personal lives. The results are songs of sadness, nostalgia, stormy seas, changing hearts, fragile hope, aching loss, and so many more feelings that we have all experienced in various forms in our own lives. In that way, “The Atlantic” may be the most relatable and heartfelt album the band has ever recorded.
The music is also more visceral and unrelenting than ever. Their legendary twin guitar attack is darker and more burgeoning than I can remember on any other record. Yet, the album is also just as melodic as we’ve come to expect from these veterans. That is one takeaway I get from this record: These musicians are only growing and maturing more and more, despite how long they have been active. Rather than fading into obscurity, Evergrey is still setting the world on fire, and only more so as they progress.
Truly atmospheric, exploring contrasts between biting riffs and floating ambience, “The Atlantic” feels more varied and more oddly structured than the past couple albums, offering moments of head-banging, hefty glory set straight up against giant walls of ethereal melody. In some ways, this is also Evergrey’s most cinematic album, as you can feel the surging bass and climactic turns of events so clearly in your head. That cinematic feeling is new to Evergrey over the last few albums, and it creates tremors and shockwaves that ripple through my chest.
Right out of the gate, the first three songs are monsters. “The Silent Arc” is one of those songs that takes a few listens that grab your brain, but when it does; your jaw hits the floor every time you hear it. “Weightless” grabs you immediately. The central riff is undeniably fantastic, and the chorus rushes you along with musical euphoria, and the fiery instrumental that emerges in the second half is undeniably awesome. “All I Have” is an immense semi-ballad with such an addictive chorus and keys that are absolutely soaked in melody.
The album never lets up, though. I can’t discuss every single song, so let me point out some highlights. “End of Silence” is one of the catchiest songs on the album, with a huge chorus and purposeful melody. “Departure” is something of a ballad, and Tom nails it, like always. The heartfelt emotions and the careful attention to vocal melodies are truly apparent here. Sounds of the sea introduce “The Beacon”; and, oh, what a song it is. The keys are bold and in your face, and the song overall is somewhat melancholy and low key. “The Ocean” ends the album will ominous height and hesitant riffing. Is it hopeful? Is it closure? The album pines about the stormy state of our condition.
And so ends the new album from Evergrey. “The Atlantic” is truly a journey of stormy passions, bitter partings, and conflicted feelings; and the music presents this story with steely edges and delicate melodies. It is truly one of Evergrey’s greatest albums to date and a perfect place to begin if you haven’t witnessed the greatness of my favorite metal band ever.