Evergrey - 2003 Recreation Day

ARTIST: Evergrey
ALBUM: Recreation Day
LABEL: Inside Out
YEAR: 2003

LINEUP: Tom S Englund - vocals, guitars * Michael Hakansson - bass * Henrik Danhage - guitars * Patrick Carlsson - drums * Rikard Zander - keyboards

TRACK LISTING: The Great Deceiver * 02 End Of Your Days * 03 As I lie Here Bleeding * 04 Recreation Day * 05 Visions * 06 I'm Sorry * 07 Blinded * 08 Fragments * 09 Madness Caught Another Victim * 10 Your Darkest Hour * 11 Unforgivable * 12 Trilogy Of The Damned (special bonus track on initial pressing)


Evergrey's previous offering, 'In Search Of Truth', was very well received in the progressive and melodic metal world, appearing in many people's 'best of year' lists. I looked forward to the release of 'Recreation Day', I felt it was about time I heard the Swedish band who'd been talked about as if they were the best thing to happen to progressive metal since Dream Theater released 'Images And Words'.

The Songs

Hmm. 'The Great Deceiver' wasn't quite what I had expected. To begin with, its arrangement are far too aggressive, the pneumatic style drumming is always a big turn off in the melodic stakes. To keep up with a band going at full bore, vocalist Tom S Englund's approach is far too intense and with a heavy Swedish accent, it's hard to make out the lyrics.

'End Of Your Days' fares slightly better, having a twin lead guitar part to help carry the song. Also here, the use of harmony vocals adds more colour and focus, but sadly (again on the negative side), the song has no real chorus or hook to speak of. A wasted opportunity.

Thankfully, the title cut shows good use of light and shade, with a great opening guitar riff and solid vocals, this time with a great chorus and harmonies. Maybe this is more in keeping with the great band I'd read about in the past? The best part of this track is undoubtedly the slow and brooding guitar solo, accompanied by piano. A great piece of prog-metal.

Just when things seem to be looking up, 'Visions' rears its ugly head. The pneumatic drums make another appearance and with a band which seems to be thrashing it out for the sake of it, I have to say I feel indifferent at best.

'I'm Sorry' has a far more melodic nature in all aspects. I hate to be the one to point the finger, but this, one of the album's two more-melodic songs, is not written by Evergrey. It's a cover of a song from the early 90's, originally by Dilba, which apparently gained a lot of airplay in Sweden at the time. Nevertheless, the song's melodic nature provides a welcome distraction from most of the material here.

'Fragments' has many elements which are in keeping with the Dream Theater sound (circa 'Awake') and sounds great. It's one of those prog-metal pieces which has all the right musical ingredients. Unlike most of the album's songs, it even offers variety in the vocal department, as the lead voice is accompanied on the choruses by a very deep Dan Swano-esque tone.

'Madness Caught Another Victim' is an acoustic interlude, which proves that Everygrey are capable of writing their own melodic material (I was beginning to wonder) and it's Tom's best vocal performance on this album by a country mile. At just under three minutes, it's a pity it's all over too soon.

'Unforgivable' treads a similar path to 'Fragments', once again it definitely pushes all the right buttons. If you like progressive metal, this is one of those tracks you'll end up loving after a few plays. The guitars chug a solid but user-friendly twin lead and with some tried-and-tested (but still great) harmony vocals, this stands alongside 'Fragments' as one of the best songs.

In Summary

Sadly though, by this point, for me it's a case of too little too late. Despite the generous praise heaped upon Evergrey by progressive metal fans and some corners of the media, this leaves me feeling empty and disappointed.

The press release talks about how Evergrey are different to their peers and continue to push musical boundaries, but I can't see much evidence of that here, I can only leave you with this advice: If you want to hear something which truly breaks down musical barriers, check out Event's 'Scratching At The Surface'.

Now, there's a band who didn't just re-write the rulebook - they doused it with gasoline, threw a match on it, scooped up the ashes and scattered them far and wide.

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