Evergrey - Torn
Dark Progressive Metal
11 songs (53'42")
Release year: 2008
Evergrey, SPV
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

No one has awaited the new Evergrey record with more trepidation than me, or so I think. Isn’t that always the case with one of your favorite bands? Especially if you felt a tinge of a slide, the previous record not quite meeting expectations, aren’t you sitting on the edge of your seat, hoping the ship will be righted, at least in a way you think it should be? If you read any of my previous reviews on the Evergrey subject, you know what important position Tom Englund & Co. occupy on my CD shelves.

Not alone in my fretting, I am sure Torn, the new record on the new label, will be scrutinized by many. And it is rather obvious that the band was true to its word when the return to older basics was promised. For me, a devoted fan, even that is not enough. Double standard or not, just another solid record would not do between me and Evergrey, as I need to feel that tingle, the hair being raised on the back of my neck. So, how does Torn measure up to this tough personal and, thus, unfair standard?

The album took its time to reveal itself, which is a sign of a record to which I would come back repeatedly. There is by far a lot more complexity and layerings on any single track of Torn than on the whole of Monday Morning Apocalypse. The guitar tone is changed too, having shifted into a much more intense direction. From the opening moments of Broken Wings Evergrey announce the increased level of heaviness not seen since Recreation Day. At first I thought that the production was a little too busy, but as time went by it actually became intriguing to dig deeper in between all of the guitar levels and stepped up distortion.

These could be the superficial points, however, if the songs failed to tug on the heart strings, which most of the Torn compositions do. In my strictly egotistical view of Evergrey the band is absolutely not allowed a single moment of relaxation, content or happiness. Their art, when it jives with me, has to be a non-stop press of beautiful disturbing darkness constantly searching for release. The songs like Fail, Broken Wings, Fear, When Kingdoms Fall and These Scars provide this feeling in abundance. Rickard Zander and his keyboards are back in the mix, sprinkling frozen overflow over knee breaking hammering syncopated riffs (Broken Wings, Fear). The melodic choruses are huge, with those Evergrey characteristic hooks, made almost eerie sounding with keyboards providing an additional droplets-from-the-frozen-icicles touches. The newcomer Jari Kainulainen (Stratovarius) is allowed a bass run or two (Broken Wings), and it is fairly obvious that a lot of work went into the solos being complex, weaving, but profound and well integrated into the overall song fabric (Soaked, In Confidence, Fail, Still Walk Alone).

As if in their utmost desire to preserve both heavy and progressive labels, the band practically eschews balladeering, as no song on Torn can be labeled as such. The slower track When Kingdoms Fall starts out with some piano in the beginning, but towers up to monumental proportions as pressure mounts. The title track does have some acoustic sections, but from Numb on Evergrey does go on the plowing through run of sorts, providing tempo changes (Still Walk Alone), but clearly residing in the heavy realm. Maybe due to the lack of a clear ballad, the song type Evergrey pulls with stunning ease and beauty, when the album is over, at first, one could struggle to remember the defining moment for Tom Englund’s voice, an Evergrey characteristic staple. Yet there are emotive, limits pushing moments in Soaked and These Scars. In this regard, the latter closing track summarizes it well together, delivering the choppy riffs, tragic attitude, female vocals, clean keyboard section, Tom’s voice as if about to snap and grand finale closing chorus.

Unfounded or not, my worries about Evergrey sliding into a direction with which I would not be able to identify personally have been greatly alleviated. Torn is a fine return to form, even if it does require an effort to fully participate in the musicians’ vision.

Killing Songs :
Broken Wings, Fear, When Kingdoms Fall, Fail, These Scars
Alex quoted 90 / 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
To see all 12 reviews click here
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