Evergrey – Live: Before the Aftermath (AFM Records)

Friday, 18th February 2022
Rating: 8.5/10

Seventeen years beyond the band’s last double album/ video set A Night to Remember, Swedish veterans Evergrey felt the need to capture another concert in Gothenburg for Live: Before the Aftermath. Recorded in 2020 during the uncertainty and safety measures putting shows on hold because of COVID-19, this show originally streamed through the internet is now available for the public – sixteen tracks spanning the vast catalog of the quintet. Those who have watched the evolution of these musicians in their progressive metal style should enjoy the mixture of work past and present – the subtle nuances that appear on stage taking on more magnitude through natural interplay and finesse.

Nine of the tracks come from the trio of latest records available at that time: Hymns for the Broken (2014), The Storm Within (2016) and The Atlantic (2019) – the band willing to take on a more aggressive, down-tuned nature for guitars and bass while the keyboard work of Rikard Zander presents swirling cinematic nuances or flashes of 70’s/80’s organ-like textures. The heavier, crushing riffs for “Weightless” mesmerize, while “Passing Through” has that key singalong chorus and circular musical underpinning to be a staple of all future shows – and if you enjoy the somber, melancholy, and reflective side of the group, “Black Undertow” crawls up to become another stirring effort to provide light in your time of need. Early favorites from Solitude Dominance Tragedy and In Search of Truth also make the grade – “The Masterplan” and “Solitude Within” adventurous numbers full of the heaviness, rhythmic push and pull, plus tantalizing highlights while vocalist Tom Englund holds listeners attention through his thoughtful, multi-dimensional vocal register. Rikard showcases his keyboard soloing skills for the intro to “A Touch of Blessing”, while “King of Errors” sends the audience home satisfied.

If you’ve never been keen to check out Evergrey, this expansive set would be an ideal primer to get you back up to speed. They continue to be one of the best progressive metal bands of the last three decades, thinking forward and pushing parameters while never forgetting the main qualities of precision and memorable songwriting that make them special.

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