EVERGREY – The Inner Circle

EVERGREY - The Inner Circle


Release date: April 27, 2004

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

This is Evergrey’s fifth album, and where the hell do I start? How do I approach this review? First of all, when I get CDs like this and look back at the band’s catalogue, I realize I should have stopped giving points as a grade years ago and just instead say what I felt about the album. I once thought Evergrey had done their magnum opus, but I was wrong. In fact, I have been wrong about this CD in every aspect, and slowly realizing that has made me postpone posting this review time after time. The CD is out, it was released some time in April (2004 I might add, as this is an internet site), and had I posted it earlier, I would have kicked myself every day throughout the upcoming summer. (I never go back and change reviews, although I would have liked to do that in the past, but it’s just not the way things work.)

So now it’s mid-May 2004, and after hearing this masterpiece first on and off, then almost non-stop for about 2 months, I am ready to commit to finalizing the review. I don’t know how interesting this will be, but let me start with the very beginning, and a visit to the newly ‘grey-built Division One Studio outside their hometown Gothenburg, Sweden. Reporters from the all over Europe and non-European countries (Norway and the USA) are flown in to pay the studio a visit and hear its first product: “The Inner Circle.” The red lighted button is turned off by the time we take our shoes off, and after a brief talk with the band and engineer, Arnold Lindberg (while he saves the work), we are served a few cold ones and pushed into a room next to the control room to do what we came here to do. The record is played in its entirety, without even a break to go to the waterhole (a painful experience, I might add). Evergrey enjoyed a little commercial success after Recreation Day, the band’s 2003 release, a few videos rotated nicely, and the band was nominated for a Swedish Grammy. With that history in mind, I expected more Metal with a slight pop approach and big choruses. Yes indeed, I was wrong again …

The Inner Circle is Evergrey’s darkest (greyest) and best release to date. When I first heard it, it didn’t do much for me – maybe because I expected something else, but also because this is a heavy concept to dig into, and the music goes hand-in-hand with the concept. With a few exceptions, I really thought the album lacked melodies. Now, I find haunting melodies in every little 0 and 1 of the digital product, and I am very tempted to call this the Operation: Mindcrime of this decennium. Like …Mindcrime, this CD, if you invest your time into it, makes you pick up every single vocal line and memorize it – it’s by all means that catchy, and after spending time with it, you simply wonder why it was so hard to get into in the first place. That IS true mindcrime when you get that kind of addiction.

On the positive side, this mindcrime is what the world needs. This is a concept album, and it fights religious leaders and cults who control and benefit from other (sometimes weak) people who seek answers in their life. People may believe in a higher meaning (my own point of view) and pray at night, but when they let scumbags who claim they are God’s right hand on earth come into their life to steal their earnings and rape their kids – that’s when things become bizarre, and that is what lyricist Tom S. Englund clearly and strongly despises. Not told as a first person story line (this CD has no Nikki, Tommy, Clay or Stig G. Nordahl for that matter), the concept deals with how one man’s surrender to a higher purpose and cult leader affects his person and his family, and how blind someone can become. If anything, it leaves the listener in an uncomfortable state of mind. Still, all you want to do after the CD ends, is to press play again…

Moving on to the music, I already said that all the melody lines have elements of addiction. The first song, “A Touch Of Blessing,” is a typical mid-tempo Evergrey number, and perhaps the best song they have ever done (here is a strong chorus, indeed). No, I am not gonna talk about every song, the album is a too strong an entity for that, but other honorable mentions go to “Harmless Wishes,” “The Essence Of Conviction,” “Where All Good Sleep,” and “Faith Restored.” There are no weak tracks on this CD (referring to its score), though the poppy “More Than Ever” is perhaps the one I like the least as of now. (I believe this is one of those albums where your favorite tracks change all the time, like Savatage’s “Streets”). Also, let me stress that you should get the limited edition, with three acoustic bonus tracks.

The performance is nothing but flawless. As before, Evergrey refuses to repeat themselves, however, they have made an album that sounds like Evergrey and no-one else. The guitars have a ‘grey trademark, and new drummer Jonas Ekdahl is a perfect fit for the band. Keyboard player Rikard Zander is perfect as well, and he is given more room with this new record — he makes sure he fills it. But most impressive is Tom S. Englund … he sings himself right into my all time top 10 with his performance on this album. Not the perfect singer in terms of technique and all that “formal training” stuff, but his emotion makes up for all of that and then some (he was not even a singer when the band recorded its debut, but decided to go for it when they had no-one else). His voice even cracks here and there, but it is all done on purpose, of course, and it fits the overall concept and the emotional roller coaster that this record travels. Whereas the material on the record is stellar, Tom takes it over the top and beyond with his singing. Hats and helmets off!!!

There are a few bands that never released a weak record in their career, and Evergrey is certainly among those (I wish the other reviewers of this site could post a cross-review of this record, by the way). You should know by now (though I didn’t), that you can always count on the finest quality from this Gothenburg fivesome. Though this CD perhaps lacks the needed commercial “stuffings” to reach beyond their already strong and heavily supporting “inner circle,” it could indeed be the one that these guys always will be compared to in the future. Tesla released the hard rock disc of the year – here is its heavy metal counterpart. What are you waiting for? Go and get brainwashed by the healthiest religion (or mindcrime) in the world – music!


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