Evergrey: A Heartless Portrait(The Orphean Testament)-2022.

Evergrey:Proggressive Power Metal from Sweden.

Discography:

Demo 1996Demo1996 
The Dark DiscoveryFull-length1998
Solitude, Dominance, TragedyFull-length1999
In Search of TruthFull-length2001
Recreation DayFull-length2003
I’m SorrySingle2003 
The Inner CircleFull-length2004
A Night to RememberLive album2005
A Night to RememberVideo2005
Monday Morning ApocalypseSingle2006 
Monday Morning ApocalypseFull-length2006
TornFull-length2008
WrongSingle2011 
Glorious CollisionFull-length2011
A Decade and a HalfCompilation2011 
King of ErrorsSingle2014 
Hymns for the BrokenFull-length2014
The Storm WithinFull-length2016
A Silent ArcSingle2018 
WeightlessSingle2019 
CurrentsSingle2019 
The AtlanticFull-length2019
Forever OutsiderSingle2020 
Eternal NocturnalSingle2021 
Where August MournsSingle2021 
Escape of the PhoenixFull-length2021
Weightless (Live in Gothenburg)Single2021 
King of Errors (Live in Gothenburg)Single2022 
Live: Before the AftermathLive album2022 
A Heartless Portrait: The Orphean TestamentFull-length20221

Members:

Tom S EnglundVocals, Guitars (1995-present)
See also: Redemption, ex-Caedes, Silent Skies
Henrik DanhageGuitars (2000-2010, 2014-present)
See also: Death Destruction, ex-None
Rikard ZanderKeyboards (2002-present)
See also: Tiamat (live), Rikard Z, ex-Death Destruction
Jonas EkdahlDrums (2003-2010, 2014-present)
See also: Death Destruction, ex-In Flames (live), ex-Dead by April (live)
Johan NiemannBass (2010-present)
See also: Beyond the KatakombHollingsheadSectuTears of AngerTiamat (live), Demonoid, ex-Hubi Meisel, ex-Mind’s Eye, ex-Afterglow, Talisman, ex-Evil Masquerade, ex-The Murder of My Sweet, ex-Therion

Past Members:

Daniel NojdBass, Vocals (1995-1999)
Patrick CarlssonDrums (1995-2003)
Dan BronellGuitars (1995-2000)
Will ChandraKeyboards (1995-1998)
Michael HåkanssonBass (1999-2006)
See also: ex-Embraced, ex-Mortum, ex-Septic Breed, ex-The Forsaken, ex-The Project Hate MCMXCIX, ex-Incapacity, ex-All Ends, ex-Engel
Sven KarlssonKeyboards (1999-2001)
See also: Soilwork, ex-Embraced, ex-Misteltein
Christian RehnKeyboards (2001-2002)
See also: ex-Abyssos, ex-Angtoria, Dreamstate (Swe), Torn Between Two Worlds, ex-Insalubrious, ex-Sargoth
Fredrik LarssonBass (2006-2007)
See also: Death DestructionHammerFall, ex-Crystal Age, ex-None, ex-Cans
Jari KainulainenBass (2007-2010)
See also: MasterplanShadowquestVoluspaa (live), ex-Symfonia, ex-Mess, Devil’s Train, ex-Killing Machine, ex-Stratovarius, ex-Metal Machine (live), ex-Kotipelto, ex-Heat, ex-Timo Tolkki’s Infinite Visions
Hannes Van DahlDrums (2010-2013)
See also: SabatonSpin the Wheel, ex-Downthrust
Marcus JidellGuitars (2010-2013)
See also: AvatariumThe Doomsday Kingdom, ex-The Ring, Marcus Jidell, ex-Royal Hunt, ex-Candlemass (live), ex-Pain (live), ex-Krux (live), ex-Astrakhan, ex-Jekyll & Hyde, ex-Kreegah, ex-Punchline, ex-Soen

One thought on “Evergrey: A Heartless Portrait(The Orphean Testament)-2022.

  1. lukretion, May 20th, 2022
    With Escape of the Phoenix still hot off the press, dark metal maestros Evergrey are set to release a new full-length album, their 13th to date, on May 20th via Napalm Records. The writing of A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) started almost immediately after the release of Escape of the Phoenix, with the same line-up comprised of singer/guitarist Tom S Englund, guitarist Henrik Danhage, keyboard player Rikard Zander, drummer Jonas Ekdahl, and bass player Johan Niemann. Inevitably, the new album inhabits similar sonic territories as the previous one, to the point that in interviews frontman Tom S Englund jokingly referred to it as “Escape of the Phoenix Part II”. But if you are worried that the record’s 10 songs may just be leftover material from the Phoenix sessions, let me reassure you: although the two records share similar strengths and weaknesses, on balance A Heartless Portrait is even stronger than its predecessor.

    Once a herald of dark progressive/power metal, over the years Evergrey have gradually morphed their sound into a highly developed form of modern metal, rich as much in melody as in heart-breaking melancholia. Nevertheless, the band’s prog metal heritage is still lurking there somewhere in the Swedes’ musical brains, and it helps them sidestep the cardinal sin of many modern melodic metal albums: an excess of emphasis on vocal melodies at the expense of musical substance. Evergrey combine the big, soaring melodies and simple song structures of the genre with a satisfying barrage of muscular riffs, sophisticated arrangements, and virtuoso leads and solos, which allow the music to be much more than mere background for the vocals. In a handful of tracks, the riffs and arrangements get really exciting, like the intricate guitar lines of “The Great Unwashed”, or the brilliant solo duels between Englund, Danhage and Zander on the title-track.

    The high dosage of solos is probably one of the most striking and engaging aspects of this record. In nearly all songs, Englund and Danhage take turns to provide beautifully melodic and suitably virtuoso guitar leads, with Rikard Zander interjecting a few trailblazing keyboard solos in a couple of tracks too. It’s a nice touch that wasn’t perhaps so much prominent in Escape of the Phoenix and that brings me back to the “classic” ol’ metal sound of yesteryears. For the rest, most of the spotlights are on Englund’s beautiful and emotive vocal performance. The man has one of the most distinctive and instantly recognizable voices in metal: gravelly and powerful, yet warm, passionate and full of yearning. He is a spectacular singer, who can transform each melody into a heart-rending masterpiece.

    The album contains several strong tracks, fuelled by inspired songwriting and excellent melodies. In fact, I am prepared to go out on a limb and say that some of the songs included here are among the best Evergrey have written throughout their whole career. The title-track is a muscular tour de force that takes heads on the listener with one of the heaviest episodes of the record, before softening into a beautiful middle-8 that paves the way for a fantastic trio of solos by Englund, Danhage and Zander. “The Great Unwashed” features a great, proggy riff and a strong chorus, while “Blindfolded” is a dark and brooding piece that creates a stark contrast with the serene, semi-acoustic album closer, “Wildfires”. You may have noticed that most of the songs I mentioned so far appear in the album’s second half. The first half also contains some good tracks (good luck in getting the chorus of “Call out the Dark” out of your head), but is somewhat weaker and less explosive than the second-half. Tracks like “Save Me”, “Midwinter Calls” and “Ominous” are in all respects decent and pleasant, but they sound a tad too generic and fail to stand out as much as other songs here. The same goes for “Reawakening” and “Heartless”, two tracks that veer dangerously close to the filler status.

    This alternation between first-rate and second-rate songs is a frustrating feature of many recent Evergrey’s albums, and this one is no exception. Fortunately, the scale here is definitely tipped in favour of the better tracks, which is why I think A Heartless Portrait is a stronger album than its predecessor. However, looking at the bigger picture and putting the album in the context of Evergrey’s discography, I must say that A Heartless Portrait does not add much to the previous 3 or 4 releases by the band. This is Evergrey doing what they do best, without changing much their sound or taking any risks. When the music is as good as this, it’s hard to complain. Nevertheless, I am left slightly underwhelmed by this album, because I always look forward to being challenged by the music I listen to, especially when it comes from one of my favourite bands that I have been following for over 20 years now.

    Ultimately, I suspect that how much you will like this record probably depends on how much you are bothered by listening to slight variations of the same musical formula album after album. If that is something that bothers you a great deal, subtract 5 points to my rating. If that does not concern you, add a full 10 points. Regardless of the final score, A Heartless Portrait remains a top quality product from one of the most talented bands out there. In a market oversaturated with thousands of mediocre new releases, this cannot be but a highly recommended listen.

    [Edited from original written for The Metal Observer]

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