HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN
In the world of progressive metal, there are exactly 2 bands which I worship. Those bands are Symphony X and Evergrey. Both bands are immensely talented, feature incredible musicianship, and come full of great lyrical and musical representations that tell amazing stories to the listeners. Following their last release GLORIOUS COLLISION, it really seemed like Evergrey may have hit the end of their run. GLORIOUS COLLISION didn't do especially well for the band, and they seemingly disappeared as soon as it came out. There's been a lot of rumors that they had indeed broken up. Those turned out to be untrue though, and back comes Evergrey with a revamped lineup and HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN; a release that could very well be the very best of their almost two decade long career.
What makes HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN such a good release is the songwriting. Vocalist Tom Englund has a slightly different tone to his vocals than on past releases, and that helps greatly. Songs like the driving rocker "A New Dawn" are the most layered and thick sounding of the band's career, which is a testament to what they are trying to do on HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN. More than any other release in their catalog, HYMNS is the most multifaceted release of their career. Listening to the songs, you get an almost Dream Theater like meshing of the various instrumentation and vocals instead of the more raw, powerful sound they are known for. This is not to say this is sterile in any way. It's far from that, in fact. "A New Dawn" is one of the heaviest guitar songs of the band's career, with Henrik Danrage returning and giving a much needed push on the six strings. Always a band that uses classier keyboards than most progressive bands, Evergrey use them well here as well. Songs like "Wake A Change" let the keyboards act as a guide for the rest of the band. Rikard Zander more than ably plays keys throughout the disc, and does so in a classy manner without being sucked into the over the top overuse that plagues so many of the gothic and orchestral metal bands today. He's instead content to allow the keys to guide things while Englund delivers the best vocals of his career.
PITRIFF RATING - 94/100 - In short, HYMNS FOR THE BROKEN is the moody, intense masterpiece that Evergrey has long looked to write and never quite completed from start to finish. As an uber fan of the band, I know the history and realize just how much better than everything else this is. It's the most grand release of their career. It's the best written, and by far the best performed. At least for now, Evergrey is back and stronger than they've ever been.