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I dig this quite a bit... - 80%

Snxke, October 15th, 2004

Evergrey have assisted me in finally giving prog-metal a chance. Their elaborate guitar-structures and high-brow lyrics are countered with an earthy sense of melody and lack of pretentiousness that can take a prog-metal outsider like me and draw him into the fold - if only for one albums worth of songs. This may be the usual Swedish mix of clinical production, stop on a dime musicianship and endless classical music references but it WORKS towards a point. Unlike many musicians lost in their own ability to play - these guys like the age-old concept of writing SONGS. They use their impressive abilities to compose tricky movements and deep hooks that will keep you humming their new-wave 80's choruses mixed with intense guitar-heroics for weeks to come. Far from the wanky prog-metal void that has kept the genre as it's own (often pointless) subculture for so long, Evergrey are out to prove that even those who spend a little TOO much time with their instruments can write songs for the headbanger as well as the music nerd.

The records opening song is also it's highlight. "The Great Deceiver" is impressive (darned near a classic) with it's ultra-wind guitars and sinister vocal melodies. Leading single "I'm Sorry" is a creepy "stalker love" type of song that works as well. Unlike the record that came after though, this record has no real stinkers. Track by track, we hear a musical progression that is both accessible AND interesting. When most prog music is bringing the lyrics into utter pointlessness Evergrey put their stories/concerns front and center without really preaching. Instead, they weave strong melodies, lyrics and riff-craft into a smooth mix of prog-metal - a mix of prog metal that is thankfully platable to all of us existing "outside" that fanatical sub-genre.

Evergrey are at their strongest for "non-fans" and many fans alike on this release. While not as wide reaching as the earlier material or as simplified (dumbed down) as the record that came after it - this record is both entertaining and technically stunning. These boys should have kept this growth, as my interest in prog-metal was boosted immensely by the work found on this release.

The next one wouldn't be half as entertaining sadly...

I say pick this up and play it when your mind wants to wander towards those questions that dark-minded European peoples tend to dwell upon in both music and literature.

Good stuff....