Having briefly rounded-up those albums that I consider to be the best so far in 2014 (check these posts out here), I fully intended to take a general look at the albums still to be released this year that I was particularly looking forward to. I still intend to do that in the coming days/weeks but as I began to write, it became obvious that there is one album in particular that I am most excited about and which I felt deserved a little more exclusive focus from me.
Evergrey – Hymns For The Broken
They are my favourite band. Simple as that. Anyone who has read this blog probably already knows this. If you didn’t, please click this link and catch up! ‘Glorious Collision’, released in 2011 was seen by many, myself included, as a real return to form after a couple of albums that weren’t received quite as positively as others. That’s not to say that either ‘Monday Morning Apocalypse’ or ‘Torn’ were bad records, just that they maybe didn’t fire the enthusiasm as much after the devastatingly great triple combo of ‘In Search Of Truth’, ‘Recreation Day’ and ‘The Inner Circle’.
These three albums deliver time and time again and, despite being released a decade and more ago, they have all stood the test of time. Moreover, as I’ve made clear elsewhere on this blog, ‘In Search Of Truth’ is my absolute favourite album of all time. The question is, will album number nine, ‘Hymns For The Broken’ live up to my ultra-high expectations?
Evergrey and their irrepressible front man, Tom Englund, have been pushing ‘Hymns For The Broken’ very hard on social media in the recent months and although Tom, in true Swedish self-deprecating style, will not go so far as to say that he is proud of what he has created, I get the feeling that on September 26th, we’ll be treated to a very special album indeed. Based on the support that their record label have also given to the cause, I think AFM Records agree too.
We’ve been treated to a few small teasers, but these don’t seem to be giving away too much in terms of the music itself. The first was released at the beginning of June 2014. It lasted for less than a minute and gave fans the album title, the track titles and confirmation that the album will feature a new concept story. The latter is greeted positively because, in my opinion, Evergrey are at their best when delivering a story.
This information sits on top of what appears to be a atmospheric synth-led intro giving way to a slow-to-mid-tempo, heavy as hell riff that doesn’t sit, to these ears in a simple 4-4 beat. I’m already excited.
The second teaser was released just a week or so ago. At around 1 minute 30 seconds, it again begins with the sound of a piano before exploding into a riff that is big, fat and juicy. Given the apparent time signature, it appears that Evergrey’s progressive side has not disappeared either.
Accompanying the music, fans are told that the first single will be the track ‘King Of Errors’, released on 15th August. A video will accompany the song which will reveal the two mysterious new members to replace drummer Hannes Van Dahl and guitarist Marcus Jidell. The album artwork is also revealed in this clip. It is bold, striking and has grown on me over the past week or so.
What can we therefore deduce from these two teasers? It’s always a little dangerous to read too much into small snippets like these but I have to admit that I am very optimistic about what lays ahead. The fact that both teasers feature keyboardist Rikard Zander prominently leads me to hope that his involvement on ‘Hymns For The Broken’ will be more central as I love the juxtaposition between the heavy riffing and the dark keyboard-created atmospheres for which Evergrey are known.
We’ve yet to hear any vocals but I fully expect Tom Englund, one of the best voices in heavy metal today, to deliver a typically passionate vocal performance, full of emotion. As far as choruses or melodies are concerned, I really hope that Evergrey deliver as I know that they can and have done in the past. I want anthems that stick in the mind long after the album has finished. I want poignancy, I want intelligence and I want catchy. Not much then, no pressure Evergrey! But then, I only want all this because I know that the band are capable of these things and because previous albums have placed the bar so high.
Now the long wait until 26th September begins. It feels like it is a long way away but even now, consider me very excited!
Still unconvinced or unfamiliar with Evergrey? Check this out, ‘The Phantom Letters’ from ‘Glorious Collision’: