Evergrey / Theories Of Emptiness, A Fire For Teeth Loosening Metal

Thirty years into their career, Gothenburg quintet Evergrey are still pushing boundaries, their emotionally soaked Heavy Metal shot through with prog having the ability to stop a listener in their tracks. Far from the glacial reputation of the Scandinavian country’s usual output, when frontman Tom Englund sings, you can feel his heart pouring out and the demons revealed then purged.

Evergrey – Theories Of Emptiness (Napalm Records)

Release Date: 7 June 2024

Words: Paul Monkhouse

Whilst far from doomy, this catharsis certainly hits hard, the naked emotions an undeniable undercurrent that instructs their work but this time it seems that Evergrey are in a far better place.

Evergrey – Theories Of Emptiness - Album cover
Evergrey – Theories Of Emptiness – Album of the year so far, and this one will be hard to beat.

Theories Of Emptiness may be raw at times, the eviscerating Cold Dreams, one of the most gut-wrenching songs the band have ever recorded, but it has a freshness and positivity that speaks more of hope and help, and this buoys the release up.

Nowhere is this better illustrated than in the chorus of Misfortune as Englund intones, “Misfortune be gone, we won, a new dawn.” The undeniable power of the sentiment is accompanied by their brand of crushingly heavy riffs, sledgehammer punch and undeniable force.

It’s a heady blend as the guitars roar with propulsive force. The crushingly heavy To Become Someone Else and the frantic pace of opener Falling From The Sun show that whilst Evergrey may have the souls of poets, they have the same fire for teeth loosening Metal. 

The heaviness is leavened with subtle touches, and the band can mold their molten sound with intelligent dynamics that go beyond stop/start riffs so often employed by outfits like Metallica. The strings of Ghost Of My Hero add a suitably lush sheen whilst not being overused, and the monstrous solo during We Are The North displays a balance of power and restraint that keep the atmosphere of the song itself as its focus, not the ability to build the whole tune around the fretwork fireworks.

Evergrey have seemingly always been able to bring precision to everything they and the huge hooks that are built into the music may eschew an obvious or bland commerciality but somehow bring an urgency and irresistible groove to them. The whole is never less than compelling.

Fourteen albums into their career, and whilst Englund’s ambition to be a global straddling behemoth may not yet be realised, Evergrey are capable of touching lives that no amount of stadium or arena shows will ever manage.

Album of the year so far, and this one will be hard to beat. Glorious. 

Sleeve Notes

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