HardReviews 4
by Martin Popoff

Evergrey - The Inner Circle

The Inner Circle is the bleakest, most depressing Evergrey album yet, due to the poetic and philosophical power of the story, poetic, in that Tom Englund embeds the story skillfully in abstracts, sort of stripping out much of the plot and leaving a string of raw emotions; philosophical, in that it deals with a complex, mature topic. OK, it's an unlikely one - a man of low self-esteem sacrificing his child to a cult he has recently joined - but two things: as metaphor for sacrificing something more probable, like your freedom, or will, or even possessions, the story has real worth. Also, Englund goes a step further, in dealing with the internal mental anguish and personal revelation that the horrific act triggers. All told, it is a story with a moral, a warning, and it is artfully presented. Musically, Evergrey add string arrangements, female voices, and ranting preacher clips to darken the mood, and the end result is a classic Evergrey album dressed up - Evergrey deluxe. As bonus, Tom's singing is almost uncomfortably committed to the intensity of the tale. Around him, his unique band serve up their usual stirring display of keyboard-iced leaden power-ish metal, the Evergrey sound as hard to pin as ever - progressive doom comes close. Limited edition issue is a book-styled digi with three acoustic live tracks recorded in France, tracks that underscore this band's unquestionable thespian prowess at any volume level.
Rating 9

Disbelief - Spreading The Rage
(Nuclear Blast)

Scuffing out in the red earth what is a bit of a new sound, Germany's Disbelief play a hypnotic sort of doom death, iced with rainy guitar textures out of gothic new wave. Lurching the thing back to heavy is the exasperated lost soul caw of Karsten Jager, really, pretty damn extreme and borderline annoying, that is if the music wasn't so explosively good. Where you arrive is not pretty, sort of like a mid-chugging Morgion with self-destructive Finnish instincts. Dreamy yet deafening, Disbelief sound somewhat like the old school goth of The Mission or Sisters Of Mercy as played by an American death metal band. The combination is pounding and like I say, pretty unprecedented.
Rating 8

Hard Reviews Page 5