As with any true progressive metal album, The Atlantic, the upcoming release from Evergrey, opens up with a brutal 8-minute audio assault featuring syncopated drum and guitar beats alongside the demonstration of a wide vocal range that manages to be simultaneously powerful yet soft. It’s an intriguing listen, that immediately becomes reminiscent of progressive metal favourites such as Alcest, Mastodon, or Pain of Salvation. At the same time though, the songwriting manages to remain fresh; Evergrey manage to make the eight-minute opener feel like a four-minute one.
They are a band that claims their mission statement is to provide “technically and compositionally outstanding standards” that are “beyond pure rock’n’roll prose”; that, they certainly seem to have nailed. The production is outstanding, and the lyrics themselves are poetically sublime. However, whilst the musical accompaniment is masterfully played and composed as a score that continues to innovate progressive metal with every song, there is not a great deal that stands out to the listener in any particular song. The whole album, by the halfway point, is an enjoyable listen full of interesting changes, but it seems to flow together in a way that doesn’t leave the listener craving more. When a song finished and the next begins, that’s all that happens; the music all seems to blend together without any one particular thing standing out above the rest – even with the atmospheric chorus of 'Weightless' or the bass-heavy ending to 'A Secret Atlantis'.
A short one-minute synth interlude takes the listener into the second half of the album, in the form of 'The Tidal', which provides as well a smooth transition into 'End of Silence' – an interesting track where a slow chugging guitar introduction gives way quickly to a more pop-inspired chorus. 'Currents' then takes the album back into a more chaotic direction that works effectively; though one thing that begins to stand out completely on the album as a whole by this point is the guitar solo. For a band that claims to be trying to innovate progressive music with every release, it is surprising that they employ such a heavy reliance on mid-song guitar solos that do little or nothing to advance the music.
'Departure' is actually striking as a track that sounds mostly different to what has been heard so far in terms of its tone. The bass is prominent, but the background piano track and almost acoustic guitar effects give it a fresher feel after what has been heard so far. 'The Beacon' changes the mood to a slightly darker feel before the shorter and thrashier end of 'This Ocean'. Overall, The Atlantic is a masterfully produced album, with poetic songwriting and well-played instruments. However, whilst it is an enjoyable record, there is not enough on it that stands out to a listener on a first spin, and it’s not an album that immediately screams “play me again” as it finishes. That being said, Evergrey are a band stating that they would rather serve “exquisite wholefood cuisine” over “musical fast food”, and with their newest offering that is something they certainly are doing.
The Atlantic is released February 25th via AFM Records