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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Evergrey

Monday Morning Apocalypse

Review by Gary Hill

It's got to be tough to be Evergrey. When you have produced progressive metal powerhouses like they have certainly every thing afterwards will get compared to those moments. So, if you decide to strip your sound down a bit and stretch into more straightforward metal, there will be those who look at this as a disappointment. Well, I would say that the more pure metal sound here isn't the disappointment. What is a bit of a problem on some of the songs, though is a combination of a fairly generic approach and a bit of a leaning towards nu-metal. Still, these things only affect a few of the tracks of the disc, and aren't enough to really mar the whole package. This is a very good disc that could have been better. Is it their best release? Definitely not, but it's very solid nonetheless.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Monday Morning Apocalypse
Fast and heavy, this one screams in. They vocals are a bit understated and processed at first. The processing remains as this carries forward, but they lose their understated approach. This one is quite straightforward, but also very effective. The chorus especially works well, as does the rather nu-metal breakdown. The guitar solo on this one tends to get a little noodly, but is nonetheless tasty and rather neo-classical.
Unspeakable
A cool and rather contemplative ballad type mode starts this. As the vocals come in this gains some momentum, but still remains a more alternative rock modern metal ballad approach. The vocals are extremely powerful here. After a time they pump this one up to a more chugging metal riff that works quite well. It's fairly heavy, but the vocal arrangement still carries the track to new heights. The mellow segment comes back later, but with lots more emotional power. When they drop it way back for the outro it is even more evocative than the rest of the number.This one is quite dynamic and a real winner.
Lost
This one jumps in with a pretty straightforward (and somewhat generic) metal approach. As they drop it back for the balladic verse, though, it takes on a lot of drama. They alternate between this ballad-like section and an anthemic (but a bit lackluster) powered chorus. This one has its moments, but is not as strong as the last two tracks, suffering mostly from a heavy dose of generica. Still, it does contain a very tasty guitar solo.
Obedience
An epic metal approach in a cool minor key starts this off. As this intro ends it kicks into full throttle with a very aggressive and rather nu-metal approach. It's very heavy and potent. This is a definite headbanger. They also include some cool prog-metal segments with great keyboard over tones. The section with a drop down to piano and the waves of guitar that come over top is a very classy addition, too. After this, though, they purely shred in a frantic instrumental break. It drops back to just an evocative piano solo to end. This one is definitely one of the most potent cuts on the disc.
The Curtain Fall
Gradually fading up, this one is more fast paced, thrash like jamming. It's another that includes elements of nu-metal in its arrangement. While this one rocks out quite well, it's just not that effective. Still, the instrumental break, with it's processed wahing sound and powerhouse crunch is pretty cool.
In Remembrance
This one comes in with a more melodic classic rock texture. This intro is still all metal, but just with more of a classic sound. They drop it to a more stripped down mellower verse, but power it back out to the chorus. A cool piano based break is a nice touch, and the vocal arrangement is really strong. Overall, this has a cool texture and is another of the sheer winners on show here.
At Loss For Words
Starting with a more typical prog metal approach, this one feels in the early moments a lot like Rage For Order era Queensryche, the mellower variety. They power it out later to more fast paced jamming, though. As this carries on they introduce a lot of cool segments and put forth some of the tastiest work of the disc. They also drop it back down to the earlier Ryche like sounds a couple more times, including on the outro. This is another of the standouts on the disc.
Till Dagmar
This piano solo is very pretty and evocative. It also represents a nice change of pace.
Still In The Water
Weird ambient textures and sound effects start this one, but it quickly thrashes out into some of the heaviest and most aggressive material on show. Then they drop it back to a dramatic, quiet approach that again feels a bit like early Queensryche. They start building the track up gradually from there. The vocals and overlayers on sections of this contribute to making it the highlight of the album. It is also one of the most emotional and powerful. They throw in a very noisy instrumental segment. When the female vocals come in to accompany the male, I here even more of that Queensryche texture, but this time more like Operation Mindcrime. This one is an epic.
The Dark I Walk You Through
A dramatic balladic approach leads this one off, and they begin to move it up slowly from there until it crescendos up to a plodding metal texture. This one is another of the emotional powerhouses on show here. It simply oozes emotion both in terms of the sad lyrical content and the musical arrangement. It's another epic and nearly as powerful as the one before it. A pretty piano solo eventually ends it. The lyrics talk (on a personal level) about all the things that should have been said and done before it was too late.
I Should
A heavy motif that reminds me a bit of Motorhead starts this one off. It turns out to something a bit more thrash-like for a time, then drops to a keyboard dominated mellower take on the themes to provide the backdrop for the vocals. The cut alternates then between these themes (with a very emotional texture) and a more pounding, near nu-metal sound. They include a scorching guitar solo segment and this is another of the standout cuts on the CD.
Closure
A pretty and melancholy piano ballad, this one does make for a solid piece of closure to the disc. It never rises above this arrangement (piano and voice), but the two carry the listener on a very emotional journey all by themselves.
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