HardReviews 3
by Martin Popoff

EVERGREY
Torn (SPV)

With all the gnashing of teeth over Monday Morning Apocalypse, I do believe years from now, folks are going to appreciate the diversion of vibe that album represented. In any event, Evergrey are being positioned as "back," flooding us with surging, grinding riffery, keys massaged in properly and less on top, down-tuning mixed with bright major chord stadium rock, melancholic melodies glowing from the whole impressive machine. And Tom is in top form, pouring his heart out, acting these anthems until every drop of emotion is in motion. 'In Confidence', 'Fear', 'Still Walk Alone' and 'Numb' represent this album's stomping chomp at the rhythm guitar quarry, all your favourite In Flames and Nevermore moments met and often usurped by the weeping Swedes (I hear Mustaine, Wylde and Waters as well). Man, I swear, if concert sound still wasn't so abysmal 42 years after it was born, a band like this could be the new U2 or Pink Floyd. But alas, there is just too much seething and roiling going on, and this with a smart progressive rock mindset, meaning that the vast amount of detail within an Evergrey song would be lost to the vagrancies of venue distortions. Produced by Tom and drummer Jonas Ekdahl, Torn offers its own mass attack of distortion, but it's of the intentional, hi-fidelity sort, as applied to thick, scraping guitar tones and cymbals that sizzle into the red. Immediate, less conceptual, and almost always headbanging (of the low speed, neck-friendly variety), Torn is another turret for the castle that is Evergrey's singular, solid sound.
Rating 8.5

FALLEN ANGELS
Rise From Ashes (Metal On Metal)

Second album by Seattle retro-thrashers, and the biggest mistake here is not building on two decades of idea-weeding, meaning, well, Fallen Angels sound like an Under One Flag or Roadracer band and not a scene-stealer of the best Slayer, Testament, Destruction and Coroner bits necessary to at least establish the DNA of a crusty act worth (re)listening to in 2009. Sure, there's a purity of purpose here (purpose purported: that the working middle class of the genre are the real heroes), but with dirty production that borders on punky, not sure there's adequate power to propel these average ideas past the skip button. And the war theme is auto-pilot obvious, a crutch on which to support a shattered soldier for a trip to the delete bins.
Rating 5

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