Evergrey - Recreation Day
InsideOut Music
Dark Progressive Metal
11 songs (51'46")
Release year: 2003
Evergrey, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the year

I have waited for this next Evergrey album for so long, and it is finally here. To all of you who don’t know or didn’t have time to check out this band in the past – you are missing on a stunning metal experience. I am confident that Evergrey’s music will appeal to metal fans of all breeds. Such powerful, moving, dark and beautiful progressive music simply can’t leave anybody unaffected. My own first Evergrey experience came in 2001 with In Search of Truth which was the first album of this band to receive a stateside release. A concept album about alien abduction, that album fascinated me with every note. I spent time and quite a bit of $$ to track down the 1998 debut The Dark Discovery and 1999’s Solitude Dominance Tragedy. While still searching for their sound in the former the band delivered a masterpiece with the latter. And now we have Recreation Day.

The heart of Evergrey is its guitarist, singer and main songwriter Tom Englund. Along with the drummer Patrick Carlsson he is the only original bandmember remaining. Well, as long as the muse doesn’t leave Tom I can be reassured Evergrey will deliver. I am usually extremely picky with the bands that I like. They don’t necessarily have to deliver the same and the same album over again, but my demands are going to be high. So, before I try to describe the beauty that is Recreation Day let me tell you this – I AM IN AWE. Some of the fans complained to me that I have been underquoting some of the good albums I reviewed for this site. I guess I just have been waiting for Recreation Day to give it that perfect mark.

The band jumps right into it with the opening track The Great Deceiver. Shredding lead yields to characteristic choppy progressive riffs which fall like myriad of hammers. Voice stretches over melody which becomes infectious by the time chorus kicks in. Magnificent dual guitar harmony supported by keyboards ends the song abruptly and leaves me begging for more. My wish is quickly answered with End of Your Days (new keyboardist Rickard Zander shines with his solo) and As I Lie Here Bleeding (when Englund sings over empty riffs – it just gives me shivers). If you believe it, things only get better on the fourth, title, track. After heavy guitar intro the band slows down to provide a background for Englund to sing. Monstrous chorus which gets etched into memory, tempo changes, drums shifting from double bass to progressive percussion, piano lead and a string section in the end – this track has it all. Heavy pounder Visions is followed up by the first surprise on the album – I’m Sorry, a Swedish pop song covered by Evergrey. What starts like a piano ballad quickly gains in intensity mostly due the style of Englund’s vocal delivery. Blinded and Fragments also slow things down a bit and bring a dose of fuzz into the riffs. Along with the omnipresent keyboards the atmosphere of suffering soul condemned to eternal darkness is palpable. Madness Caught Another Victim lets the air out of a tension balloon. Stripped down to the bare bones acoustic guitar and Englund’s vocals, the song is a bard-like poem of a crushed man. Darkest Hour (is it intentional that all Evergrey albums have a track with a word Dark in it?) is actually a relaxing experience after 9 track buildup. It features female singing part by Carina Kjellberg who had a larger role on In Search of Truth. However, the closer Unforgivable Sin reverses trends as an almost suppressed scream singing with haunted piano and harp accompaniment delves into the issue of church and child abuse. Those lucky ones to own a Limited Edition will have another long track on their CD.

I loved everything about this album. Englund knows when to sing cleanly and when to add just the right amount of harshness into his voice (at times he reminds me of Zak Stevens, previously of Savatage fame). Full blown choruses often serve as focal points for song and stay with you for a long time. Guitars range from heaviest downtuned riffs to insanely technical leads and, due to an excellent production, form an impenetrateable wall. Wherever the wall opens a chink it is immediately gets plugged in by keyboards. Rickard Zander does his fair share of soloing, but his main role is to provide a fiercely dark and ominous atmosphere. Patrick Carlsson is a drummer who pretty much never stops playing. If there is room to be filled, count on a fancy roll to appear.

A few years back I thought there were only two bands in modern heavy power progressive metal who married melody, heavy guitar sound, harsh vocal delivery and keyboard atmosphere so well. Those bands were Angel Dust and Evergrey. While Angel Dust hugely disappointed with Of Human Bondage and subsequently disbanded, Evergrey overcame the loss of bandmembers and kept improving with every album. I don’t know how they are going to be able to top Recreation Day, but I have my utmost confidence in these Swedes.

Killing Songs :
Every single one of them
Alex quoted 100 / 100
Other albums by Evergrey that we have reviewed:
Evergrey - The Storm Within reviewed by Alex and quoted 92 / 100
Evergrey - Hymn For The Broken reviewed by Joel and quoted 94 / 100
Evergrey - Glorious Collision reviewed by Alex and quoted 80 / 100
Evergrey - Torn reviewed by Alex and quoted 90 / 100
Evergrey - The Dark Discovery reviewed by Ben and quoted 80 / 100
To see all 10 reviews click here
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