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Evergrey - Escape of the Phoenix

Label: AFM Records
Format: Download
Released: 2021
Reviewed By: Jack Mangan
Rating: 9/10

“Escape of the Phoenix” is a statement.
Evergrey enjoy a solid reputation - - they’re among the premier names in the Prog field, and among Sweden’s proudest musical sons - - but this album is bound to move them a few levels further up the Prog Metal pylon. It’s almost as if Dream Theater’s James LaBrie showed up to duet with vocalist Tom Englund on “The Beholder,” as a commendation from the very top. “It’s cool, they’re with me.” Of course, Tom Englund in his own right is one of the best in the business.


Channeling their previous 11 albums, plus the music of their peers, Katatonia, Haken, Vanishing Point, Opeth, and Dream Theater, they do an incredible sweep of sounds and moods, swimming from melodic AOR to double-bass drum Power Metal to even heavier.
I think it’s the latter where Evergrey excel - - the heavy stuff. Where Katatonia have found some of their best material in their quiet and introspection, Evergrey are strongest when the drums are thunderous and on the attack. As a straight-through listen, “Escape of the Phoenix” balances and alternates the tone perfectly, lulling you into quiet tracks and moments, then perfectly timing the rising of the tempo and the blood in your veins. This is a solid outing of depth and gravitas, with intelligent, emotionally-resonant lyrics. Best tracks: “Eternal Nocturnal,” the title track, “Forever Outsider,” Leaden Saint,” “Where August Mourn,” and the closing cut, “Run.”
“Escape of the Phoenix” is a good veteran band getting older, more seasoned, more comfortable with themselves, more savvy, and just plain better.

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