Evergrey - Monday Morning Apocalypse
The time has come for a major event in the shape of a new release from Evergrey. That is the way I look upon it anyway. I discovered them at the time of the release of their third album, In Search Of Truth, and I was floored right away. The combination of fantastic melodies, heavy riffs and a tight rhythm section was something that pulled me in under their wings from the very beginning. Tom's soaring and soulful vocals and the majestic keyboard work were also strong assets that really got to me. Of course I instantly bought their first two albums shortly hereafter and after that I have eagerly awaited every new release. Recreation Day fulfilled the high expectations I had because of its predecessor. Their last album The Inner Circle however was a small disappointment even though it included fantastic songs like A Touch Of Blessing and Ambassador.
As usual with Evergrey I wasn't overly impressed after listening to their newest offering Monday Morning Apocalypse for the first time. This of course has partly to do with my high expectations and partly because of the fact that their songs seem to have that little extra something that can't be heard until the third or fourth listening session. What I heard though was a change in the sound direction. The production is much heavier than in the past and Rikard Zander's keyboards has taken a couple of steps back. The change is probably due to the fact that Evergrey for the first time has decided not to handle the production themselves. Instead they hired Sanken Sandquist and Stefan Glaumann (Rammstein, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi) for the task and I believe that this was exactly the right choice and an injection the band surely needed.
When it comes to the song writing they have really succeeded to make an even album with killer tracks from start to finish. The songs also are a bit shorter and more effective than before. The title track starts the record in a fantastic way with heavy riffs and a great chorus. It is followed by Unspeakable that is even better. The mystical and mellow beginning is beautiful and just before the enchanting chorus the trademark Evergrey riffs show up like a visit from an old-time friend. Obedience is also another strong track with a chorus to die for while The Curtain Fall is less melodic with the focus set on heaviness instead.
When we reach halfway through the album it is time for what I would call a hit! In Remembrance sticks in your mind instantly and the choir used in the chorus is majestic. The song is however just a taste of what's about to come. The next track is simply put Evergrey's finest moment ever and given the thought that I am a big fan you might have guessed the quality level of At Loss For Words. The calm intro with the chanting vocals where Tom sings: 'Here we are once again, time to choose at the crossroad's end ', produces goose bumps all over my body and it's even better when this section returns at the end of the song. The rest is just pure, melodic, semi-progressive Evergrey at its absolute best! I must also mention the last two songs that wrap the album up in a fantastic way.
I Should belongs to the top-three on Monday Morning Apocalypse (which thereby means that it's a masterpiece!) and in the quite calm verse the keyboard has taken a step forward for once and when the chorus arrives I surrender completely. The tuned down guitars create a riff in the chorus that smells a whole lot Type O Negative and this is a nice addition to the song. Closure is a perfect way to name the last song don't you think? As you might have guessed it is a ballad that only includes piano and vocals. Tom's performance on this beautiful song is extraordinary and it actually, I'm old enough to admit this, brings tears to my eyes.
My expectations were extremely high on this release but not only did Monday Morning Apocalypse reach them, it surpassed them by miles! I have listened to the album at least fifteen times by now but still it seems to grow on me and I find it very hard not give it a spin at least once a day. That this is their best record to date is clear and I would be very surprised if this wouldn't lead to a big breakthrough. I can't see why not everyone with the slightest interest of hard rock or heavy metal wouldn't love this. I don't know what more to say about this masterpiece, I'm at loss for words