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For playing music in such a forgivingly positive genre, Evergrey seems to take on a strange number of naysayers, a legion of nemeses who hate the band's work with every fabric of their beings; and although I may not be a radical in this anti-Evergrey movement, I will say that the majority of Evergrey's output is weak and unnecessary power metal. The only difference now is that they aren't even power metal anymore. Glorious Collision is a mess of an album that resembles modern rock more than it resembles anything the band has done before. With the inferior quality that has been perpetuated by this band for years, one must surely think that a little change might be just what the doctor ordered. However, with the interminable session of mediocrity that this album spews forth, it might be best to pull the plug here and now.
When I say "modern rock," I don't mean that it follows the current flow of worthless, upbeat, radio-friendly bands like Nickelback. No, this has more in common with the slower, understated genre, i.e. the one that won't make you regurgitate your guts on the floor while listening to it. Evergrey certainly doesn't impress anywhere on this disc, but I guess it could have been worse. These are simplistic, rather slow pieces built with whiny guitar and a heavy reliance on choruses. Unfortunately, the choruses often falter, and some are just bad (see: "Wrong," "Restoring the Loss"). Tom Englund is the most controversial part of the band and an interesting vocalist in his own right. He's not bad, but he lacks range and power, sounding more like an American Idol winner than a real metal vocalist. "You" is definite proof of this, a worthless commercial number lacking any point but to make a quick buck. Considering who they are and what they play, why did they think this would work?
If you're desperate to find highlights, I suppose opener "Leave It Behind Us" is a pretty decent arena anthem, and the semi-balladic "The Phantom Letters" creates a pretty good atmosphere. This may seem like a sparse writeup, but that directly reflects Evergrey's latest effort: there simply isn't much here to warrant its gratuitous length. Who would want this many tracks from a band with so little imagination? Despite the change of style, Glorious Collision is directly on par with its predecessors. You'd think the band would either get better or worse with this release. Go figure. To conclude, this isn't the most worthless, phoned-in album I've heard this year, but even if you like this watered down style of music, you could do much better. Only for the most loyal fans of Evergrey and hard rock.
As sad a trend as it is, many bands that stay around as long as Sweden's Evergrey tend to slip as time goes on, falling at some point along the way. A band whose earlier work dominates the Scandinavian power metal scene, Evergrey seems to have taken a fall from glory. Instead of the great comeback record some may have been predicting, 'Glorious Collision' turns out to be a somewhat weak, uninspired collection of anthem rock tracks, that fails to capture the imagination. Unfortunately, the theme of falling may not just apply to the album's artwork.
Anyone familiar with the term 'AOR' will know what to expect here. The music is deeply rooted in the arena rock that lay slave to each set of white, middle-class ears during the 1980s. The music is almost always focused on the vocals and melodic lines, often giving the instruments the semblance of a backing track to Tom Englund's vocal work, whose strong delivery comprises the album's greatest strength. The songwriting is kept basic to point of being called 'barebones', and to make things worse, the album tries to cover this with an overly polished production, which could work beautifully for a more technically vibrant work, but makes a good deal of the music here feel even more lifeless.
Each song follows a nearly identical pattern, with little exception. A instrumental introduction opens up the song, usually promising some sort of interest to the song. Unfortunately, by the time Englund's vocal work comes in, the instruments recoil and let the singing do almost all of the work. Each song is built around a chorus that- more often than not- is the highlight of the song. while there is melodic prowess here with much of the chorus-writing, it can often feel as if one familiar song is replaying over and over again throughout thirteen tracks of tired arena rock. With that in mind, the songs begin being judged not on their inherent quality, but on how different they manage to sound from the rest. While the album's opener 'Leave It Behind Us' works the best to describe the musical output Evergrey has produced with 'Glorious Collision', the highlight would ultimately be the semi-acoustic track 'Free', which opens with a simple keyboard idea, and is driven by some beautiful acoustic work. Unfortunately, this fleeting inspiration is only made the more enjoyable due to it's companions, which have much less to say.
What the album gets right however; it gets right very well. As has been said, Tom Englund is a fantastic vocalist for this type of melodic rock, and although the instruments almost never prove to be more than a backing track for Englund's powerful delivery, his voice carries the better parts of 'Glorious Collision' along rather nicely. 'Glorious Collision' is certainly an album that introduces Evergrey in a new light (with an almost entirely new lineup) but unless the band makes some serious improvements and opts to balance out their sound in favor of greater instrumental work, Evergrey may very well fall completely into relative obscurity.
From the intro notes on "Leave It Behind Us" to the closing of "...And The Distance" Evergrey's Glorious Collision is an incredible album. The writing, the performance, everything is top notch. I'll be honest, I didn't know quite what to expect from this album. Three fifths of the band left in 2010 and were replaced. The only original member left is vocalist and guitarist Tom Englund. There was some question in my mind as to if these replacements could and would hold up to the talent of their predecessors. There is no question. They are just as talented musicians and together have made what will probably become a classic of melodic prog metal.
Every instrument comes through crystal clear when it needs to. The bass is present as are the keyboards, two instruments that lots of the time get lost behind the vocals, drums and guitar on other metal albums. Englund's vocals are emotional and tight. He sounds just as good now as he did on 1998's The Dark Discovery. His vocals carry the music as much as the guitars. Speaking of guitars, the solos are exquisitely written and performed. There is always at least one solo in every song, sometimes two or even three. Unfortunately none are more than ten to fifteen seconds.
The drums are pretty standard fair. Nothing special, but they aren't bad enough to detract from the songs either. The keyboards add a melodic background to the songs that move the album into the truly sublime.
The album is masterfully put together. Fast tempo songs give way to slower songs and back to a medium-to-fast tempo song. It never seems forced or contrived. I, like some people, prefer the fast, pounding blast beat metal songs and get tired of slower songs. I never found myself getting tired of these. They work for the over all vibe of the album and never seem to slow the album down, and this is a long album, clocking in at an hour. Many albums start to wear out after forty-five or fifty minutes, but this one doesn't.
This isn't your average melodic prog album, but neither were any of their other albums. Evergrey are something very special and very different. They are heavy but emotional and meloncholy but somehow upbeat.
Standout tracks: Leave It Behind Us, Frozen, It Comes From Within
Written for: http://thebearcavemetalblog.blogspot.com
When progressive metal fans are rejected by women they like, they return to isolation and eventually dust off those old Evergrey albums that understand the pain and frustration throughout those nights of denial, bargaining, anger, depression, and finally the blazing ray of acceptance; thank you Evergrey, see you in a couple months. Tom Englund's creation sounds like Dr. Phil force-fed a spoonful of steel: loudly emotional music, yet with a side of decency for those of us not in high school. "Glorious Collision" marks a new age in the band's longevity, as several loyal members of the group turned in their nametags and left Evergrey prior to the album's recording. Englund, being the band's leader, recruited a number of noteworthy musicians from groups like Royal Hunt to finish "Glorious Collision," branding it a new era for Evergrey. And eras may come and go, but the card Englund plays throughout "Glorious Collision" marks a wide expansion of color and identity that some of Englund's other creations lacked, mainly "Monday Morning Apocalypse."
In a sense, "Glorious Collision" firmly stands as a progressive metal opus layered in riffs, keyboards, and choruses as Evergrey have done in the past, but instead documenting an emphasis on strength and incoming credit via new members. The album itself is a showcase of consistent track after consistent track, each covered in its own blanket of ideas and techniques. For example, you'll see the band venturing into a variety of keyboard tunes, thrash hints, explosive rhythms, poppy choruses, and even a child choir on "I'm Drowning Alone" with a surprising aftermath of one not in bitterness. Most of these aspects have appeared on an Evergrey outing before, but never has Englund truly explored such terrains so methodically. Aside from that, Evergrey still does the usual Evergrey routine as we've come to know the group, but featuring better riffs, better choruses, better structuring, and better overall cuts. Englund's deep, melancholic voice is charming as always, but thankfully isn't the only positive quality "Glorious Collision" can idolize: the band is tighter, more complex, craving for viciousness, yet sophisticated and classy.
The record opens with a smashing piece titled "Leave it Behind Us" with all of Evergrey's genetics intact as prominent keyboards smoke with a vibe of electronica, eventually synchronizing the bass drum and keys into a pseudo-dance beat and leaving the riff-fest to end impressively. "It Comes From Within" brings a lot of speed and power into the track's rapid picking and virtuoso guitar work, once again pinning the metal back to Englund's brainchild. "Frozen" bounces itself on its chorus, which is certainly its point of power; a little repetitive, yet I'll argue its for the best. And of course, every Evergrey album needs a plethora of ballads, yet "Glorious Collision" proudly captures some of the most emotional and well-written pieces of sorrow this band has written. Not a single track lacks a healthy punch of power, whether it be from hammering guitars or an atmosphere of hope lost once more. It's an Evergrey record atop a mountain of Evergrey records, if you will.
The exterior influences brought by Marcus Jildill of Royal Hunt and Johan Niemann navigate through Englund's typical masquerade with an edge of uniqueness and velocity Evergrey seemingly abandoned late in their career, so finally hearing something that has authentic diversity while maintaining an honest code definitely makes for a satisfying listen. I'd say "Glorious Collision" is probably the finest Evergrey effort I've come in contact with aside from "Solitude Dominance Tragedy," and I'd walk straight in the madhouse and check myself in if it isn’t one of the band’s greatest releases, so definitely give it a shot.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com