Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse
InsideOut Music
Modern Dark Metal
12 songs (44'47")
Release year: 2006
Evergrey, InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Alex

I remember as if it was yesterday how two years ago I was taking my brother-in-law to an Iced Earth/Children of Bodom/Evergrey show in Cleveland, the show that kicked off the reborn Iced Earth tour. And although hearing the first ever live performance of Gettysburg (1863) trilogy was great, I was really there for Evergrey. Let’s face it, I am the band’s lifelong fan. I own every CD, most of them digibooks with bonus tracks, and my wife buying me A Night to Remember 2-disc DVD last year was the best anniversary present she could think of. Both of my kids know “the songs that Tom sings” and often demand Touch of Blessing be played on our family rides. Many of my non-metal friends received Alex’s Best of Evergrey samplers, and that is something I am very proud of. If you want to perpetuate the art, you better do it with the best in the business. That night in Cleveland I got to chat with Tom Englund briefly, got to shake his hand, making it the highlight of the evening and a memorable event in my life.

So, the stage is set. Self-professed Evergrey fan I am always looking forward to the band’s new album. Monday Morning Apocalypse was no different, I had it almost as soon as it came out. I listened to it … and put it aside to get a better feel later. Something did not click from the first go-round, and that has not happened between me and Evergrey before. Many listens later, I am still searching for answers. Is it just me or is Monday Morning Apocalypse the start of the new Evergrey, the new era in the career of this talented band which I will have to get used to?

As with any band that I hold high on my list, do not expect a track-by-track review. This will be purely “feel” based. Evergrey’s style has been called dark progressive metal. This description is not bad, but the band’s progressive nature is not in the endless technical guitar wanking and mindless time signature shifts. Their style of prog does use keyboards, and it is one multilevel affair emanating heartrending atmosphere with Tom Englund ruling with his smooth, but slightly hoarse, mysterious rock voice.

Starting with Solitude_Dominance_Tragedy, every Evergrey album immediately displayed this overabundance of layers where keyboards and atmosphere were allowed to seep into the music. Evergrey’s riffs always had room to breathe allowing other melodic intricacies to float in. On Monday Morning Apocalypse I am now forced to dig and search for those moments. They surely exist, fantastic songs Obedience, Still in the Water and I Should being the primary pieces of evidence. It is OK for the riffs to smash away (I Should), but that dark organ combining with the guitars is unparallel.

However, there are many moments on the album where, due to the direct straight edge nature, the music holds no intrigue. This is Evergrey, it can’t be Plain Jane, but, sadly, songs like Lost, The Curtain Fall and even At Loss for Words (to a lesser degree) strike me as such. Lunging ahead with dark menacing riffs can work, the title track is the proof, but the album simply feels diluted. I can’t bear the thought that Lost is made for radio. No, I won’t be jealous sharing Evergrey with the millions of others, but the depth about this amazing band won’t be revealed with songs like that. Further, to convey this straightforward radio-friendly rock songs, the sound throughout the album has been significantly thinned out, compared with In Search of Truth and The Inner Circle.

On one hand, Evergrey continues to be true to its nature including unusual numbers, like somber hymn In Remembrance, chilling outros on Obedience and The Dark I Walk You Through and simply to-die-for piano interlude Till Dagmar, leading into the awesome twosome of the album, combining with Still in the Water. This duo, after all, can still make it to my next Evergrey Best Of List past 2006.

Yet, there has been some major role shifting with the “players”. Keyboards is a fine line instrument for many metal bands, but it has been essential for Evergrey. I simply can’t imagine the band’s sound without the ivory tinkles. Rikard Zander is an excellent player, but he has been inexplicably pushed way down in the mix. Outside of those outros andTill Dagmar he plays a very inconspicuous role on Monday Morning Apocalypse. Tom’s wife Carina also has been a contributor to several albums before, and is technically present on this album as well. Technically is the word, as you will be hard pressed to hear her presence, Still in the Water and, possibly, title track being the only places. The album has more guitar solos, but they seem more stand alone than fitting the overall flow of the album, except At Loss for Words and Still in the Water.

If it sounds that I am too harsh on Monday Morning Apocalypse, it is perhaps because I am. I expect perfection to hit me coming out of Evergrey all the time. In one interview with Tom Englund I read that the band purposely wanted to make more direct album, shedding a little bit of a prog label, to gain new fans. Egotistically, I will have to ask “what about us, old fans, who stood with the band since Day 1”. In fact, I do not mind many more joining into the Evergrey fold, learning about this band, but why does the band itself has to acquiesce to the level of a new fan who can accept the band only if “it is simpler and more stripped down”? I guarantee that at the next tour the old crowd will be the one to show up and it will demand the band plays its old songs. Count me on being there as well, still buying everything Evergrey will ever release.

Folks, don’t get me wrong, Monday Morning Apocalypse is one modern dark well-made rocking album, but it is the first time since the debut Dark Discovery Evergrey receives below “outstanding” mark from me.

Killing Songs :
Monday Morning Apocalypse, Obedience, In Remembrance, Till Dagmar, Still in the Water, The Dark I Walk You Through, I Should
Alex quoted 80 / 100
Other albums by Evergrey that we have reviewed:
Evergrey - Evergrey, Shattered Sun and local support(Fierce Atmospheres and Legacy Black) reviewed by Joel and quoted
Evergrey - The Atlantic reviewed by Alex and quoted 88 / 100
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
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