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Evergrey
The Inner Circle
May 2004
Released: 2004, Inside Out
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland

Prog metal is not my thing, but when it’s done right, I love it. With the exception of Dream Theater, the only other prog metal band that finds its way into my fickle CD player is Evergrey. This Swedish band has just released their fifth album, THE INNER CIRCLE, and like last year’s RECREATION DAY, this CD is nothing short of brilliant. Keyboards are used but not in favor of guitars, Tom S. Englund’s vocals are absolutely breathtaking and there aren’t any twelve-minute instrumentals. THE INNER CIRCLE is a concept album that focuses on religious cults and the effect that they have on the victims’ (yes, VICTIMS’) families. There are clips taken from sermons, programs and other sources that help to hammer the point home, too. Production is handled this time by Englund at the band’s new studio and the sound is rich, layered and thick. As always, Englund’s lyrics are thought-provoking, intelligent and poignant. 2003’s RECREATION DAY was a stellar CD and less than a year later, Evergrey has released THE INNER CIRCLE which does not sound rushed, forced or sub-standard. Can this band get any better?



“A Touch Of Blessing” starts out slowly but the dual guitar attack from Englund and Henrik Danhage quickly take over. Englund’s vocal range is on full display here and when his wife, Carina, contributes backups (as she has done on all of Evergrey’s releases), the result is fabulous. “Ambassador” opens with a recorded sample of, “Obey my voice and I will be your God!” The first verse features Englund’s vocals multi-layered to create a creepy chanting effect. “In The Wake Of The Weary” is a keyboard-heavy track and Carina again shines on a solo passage (can someone get this woman signed to her own recording contract?). The acoustic tracks, “Waking Up Blind” and “Faith Restored” are little more than Tom and a guitar. In each case, Englund’s vocals are harmonized and the lyrics are extremely powerful. “The Essence Of Conviction” is a heavy track filled with the above-mentioned religious samples that really set the mood for the record. The album closer, “When The Walls Go Down,” is a brilliant finale to the story. All of the lies and problems that the character faced are suddenly realized and the rhetoric and fear mongering used by the cult are contested by him as his own voice is juxtaposed with more religious babble. The track wavers between quiet, pensive moments to all out crunch. The Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra is also utilized on several tracks giving them a very ethereal and haunting aura.



THE INNER CIRCLE is a powerful statement against organized religion. At no point is any one faith singled out however Englund’s message is crystal clear. The band is even splashing the phrase, “I AM MY OWN GOD” across the front of their tour shirts. This CD requires a few listens to really appreciate what the band has done. It also benefits from being listened to in its entirety. Many of the songs fade into one another and the flow of the music is imperative to really have it sink in. I also recommend listening to the CD with headphones as the music, vocals and effects are quite something. Without a single lowlight, THE INNER CIRCLE is Evergrey’s strongest album to date and will remain in my CD player for a very long time.



**There is a limited-edition release of THE INNER CIRCLE available that features three songs taken from a live acoustic performance in Paris this past summer: “I’m Sorry,” “Recreation Day” and “Madness Caught Another Victim.”



KILLER KUTS: “A Touch Of Blessing,” “Ambassador,” “In The Wake Of The Weary,” “Waking Up Blind,” “The Essence Of Conviction”
Track Listing

1. A Touch Of Blessing
2. Ambassador
3. In The Wake Of The Weary
4. Harmless Wishes
5. Waking Up Blind
6. More Than Ever
7. The Essence Of Conviction
8. Where All Good Sleep
9. Faith Restored
10. When The Walls Go Down

Lineup

Tom S. Englund—Vocals/Guitar
Henrik Danhage—Guitars
Mikael Hakansson—Bass
Rickard Zander—Keyboards
Jonas Ekdahl—Drums


Next review: » Evergrey - The Inner Circle
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Evergrey
The Inner Circle
July 2004
Released: 2004, Insideout Music
Rating: 4.7/5
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall

This Sweden-based band from Gothenburg with the lead singer Tom S. Englund has been in the business for a really long time now. “SOLITUDE, DOMINANCE, TRAGEDY” followed up their debut called “THE DARK DISCOVERY”. After that they switched label and released “IN SEARCH OF TRUTH” that was followed up last year by the great album “RECREATION DAY”.



A lot of members have passed in Evergrey and on this album they have a new drummer in Jonas Ekdahl. It really feels like they have put down some serious work and thoughts into this album even though they have been out on tour most of the time. They have to be very creative to find the time to deliver such a masterpiece like this album.



I’ve read in an interview that “THE INNER CIRCLE” is a theme album against different religious fanaticism in the world. On the album we follows a man who slowly drags into a sect and he is forced to give more and more to the sect before he finds out that he is on the wrong way. On the album there are authentic soundrecordings from actual American sect meetings that they’ve have sampled into the songs to add some strength to the album. The history on this record shows how weak people easily can be influenced, manipulated and controlled by stronger forces.



I think all of you know what kind of music Evergrey plays but if you would call their music progg metal you’ll get beaten up by Tom S. Englund. Evergrey plays very well played metal and a lot evolves around Tom’s magical voice, he has a stunning vocal range that man. But prior to what Tom says I think that there are some progressive influences in their music. They have also a lot of tempo changes and instrumental parts in their very technical songs. The music is based on guitar but there are some keyboards used too. There are a woman who help Tom with the lead vocals on some songs and that makes the music more powerful I think. I don’t know who she is though ‘cause I haven’t got any info papers.



Several of the songs have potential to become big hits, especially the ballad “WAKING UP BLIND”. Evergrey’s music is not of that kind that it sticks to you immediately it takes a few listening before it grows but when you have listened through it sometimes you’ll find that this album is brilliant. But I’ll think that you would value the album more if you had the lyrics that I don’t have.



Evergrey brings us a totally glorious album that contains technical played strong metal along with a stunning lead vocalist and strong material. I have nothing remotely negative to say about this album; even the cover reflects the music. I think that you, right now, should go to your local record store to buy this album!



Some songs that really stands out are “A TOUCH OF BLESSING”, “AMBASSADOR”, “IN THE WAKE OF THE WEARY”, “WAKING UP BLIND”, “MORE THAN EVER” and “THE ESSENCE OF CONVICTION”.
Track Listing

A touch of blessing
Ambassador
In the wake of the weary
Harmless wishes
More than ever
The essence of conviction
Where all good sleep
Faith restored
When the walls go down

Lineup

Tom S. Englund – lead vocals, guitar
Henrik Danhage – guitar
Rikard Zander – keyboard
Jonas Ekdahl – drums
Michael Håkansson – bass


Next review: » Evergrey - The Inner Circle
Previous review: » Evergrey - Solitude Dominance Tragedy

Evergrey
The Inner Circle
December 2004
Released: 2004, InsideOut Music
Rating: 5.0/5
Reviewer: CrashTest

Four simple words ... ALBUM. OF. THE. YEAR.



OK, I can’t just leave it at that. I’d be plagiarizing one of JP’s reviews from a couple years ago if I did. However, since two of my comrades at Metal Rules have already reviewed this majestic album, I will keep my own review brief.



Evergrey’s brand of power/progressive metal just keeps getting better with every album. THE INNER CIRCLE is powerful, emotional, moving, inspiring, headbanging metal. Quite simply, this is the band’s masterpiece.



I don’t give out perfect scores very often. You’ve got to earn it with me. In fact, I’d be hard-pressed to come up with even five metal albums that have come out in the 21st century that I’d give such a high honor to. This is one of them. If you don’t have it yet, go get it. Go get it now!



Highlights: The entire fucking album!



Genre References: Power Metal, Progressive Metal
Track Listing

1. A Touch Of Blessing
2. Ambassador
3. In The Wake Of The Weary
4. Harmless Wishes
5. Waking Up Blind
6. More Than Ever
7. The Essence Of Conviction
8. Where All Good Sleep
9. Faith Restored
10. When The Walls Go Down

Lineup

Thomas S. Englund - vocals & guitar
Henrik Danhage - guitar
Michael Håkansson - bass
Richard Zander - keyboards
Jonas Ekdahl - drums


Next review: » Evergrey - Torn
Previous review: » Evergrey - Solitude Dominance Tragedy





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