Evergrey - A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament),
I have been a fan of Sweden’s Evergrey for more than 20 years, and although they have had quite a few line-up changes in their history, singer/guitarist Tom S. Englund has always been there while the return of guitarist Henrik Danhage and drummer Jonas Ekdahl in 2014 means that alongside Rikard Zander (keyboards) and Johan Niemann (bass) they have had the same line-up for eight years which is the longest period of stability in their existence. Recently they have also been upping their output as well, and this is the third studio album in four years. Mind you, increasing output has not seen a reduction in quality as there is no doubt, they are producing some of the finest music within their 25-year history.
Everygrey are a metal band who use keyboards to provide emphasis and more of a symphonic feel but are fully progressive in their use of intricacy in all instrumentation, complex time signatures and songs with very differing sections. They also have a strong sense of space and contrast, so while there are times when everything is hitting us at once, like a metallic sledgehammer with little in the way of remorse or let up, there are others where it is far more delicate, and the concentration instead is on Tom’s vocals. This use of contrast ensures that the heavy seems heavy and the quieter sections much lighter, moving between bombast and restraint.
This is a very heavy album, yet also very commercial, which makes it a very easy album to listen to as even when played at seriously high-volume levels it makes perfect sense and never overpowers. There is a great deal of finesse within this, as well as plenty of brutality which is always tempered with a softer edge. Evergrey just keep getting better, and even if you have never come across this prog metal act before now, this is a great place to start.