Title: Escape of the Phoenix
Genre: Progressive Metal / Melodic Metal
Release Date: 26th February 2021
Label: AFM Records
Back with their twelfth album overall, it’s business as usual for Sweden’s EVERGREY who have given us ‘Escape of the Phoenix’ which until recently had been a work in progress since 2019. With the current climate leaving EVERGREY with no touring schedule at all throughout 2020, it’s given them more time than expected to craft together 11 songs for this album.
Opening track ‘Forever Outsider’, gently sets up the scene for what is to come, whilst third single ‘Where August Mourn’ dabbles with a touch of Electronica and is a nice additional element to a great melody which has been sung over the top of crunching guitar work. The pace is then slowed down with the reflective ballad ‘Stories’ which tells the tale of being in a no-win situation with the music being heavily led by keyboardist Rikard Zander. ‘A Dandelion Cipher’ returns to the more atypical EVERGREY sound.
Next up is ‘The Beholder’ which features a guest appearance by DREAM THEATER frontman James Labrie singing a duet with Englund, which both musically & lyrically is a Prog fan’s dream. Had this is been released back in the late 80s by an act like QUEENSRYCHE, it would have been aired to death on commercial rock radio (and should be now). The halfway point of this album, ‘In the Absence of Sun’, has another beautiful piano / keyboard intro which would not sound of place as the score to a Scandinavian TV series doing a Halloween special.
One of the targets for ‘Escape of the Phoenix’ was to create it as a more direct than its predecessor ‘The Atlantic’. With vocalist Tom S. Englund being the only constant member since the birth of the band in Gothenburg back in 1995, this is very much his vision which has been aided by producer Jacob Hansen. It’s difficult to tell how much the other members of the band have had creative input into this, but they all play their parts very well.
The second half of this album kicks of ‘Eternal Nocturnal’, another promo single which I was sent before the album’s release and is one of the more guitar driven songs on the record, where Henrik Danhage shows he can be a riff-meister when required. It would have been nice to heard him flex his guitar work earlier on the album, although he does have some quality solos in the tracks before this. The title track ‘Escape of the Phoenix’ tells the story of preferring to rest in peace rather than be risen from the ashes. One of the heavier songs on the record, even the wailing guitars paint the picture of being resurrected against one’s will.
Onto the final three tracks & ‘You from You’ returns us to ballad territory with mightier fine keyboard & guitar work. ‘Leaden Saints’ is a haunting penultimate track with more American style guitar leads which dominate the track. Lyrically themes of ‘We Are Dead’ let us know that we are near the end of this musical journey. ‘Run’ is a semi-sprint to the final line which finishes off the LP in style.
This isn’t an album which will win over too many new fans who aren’t familiar with Progressive & Melodic genres already. But if you’re a fan of EVERGREY’s previous work or bands such as DREAM THEATER, PAGAN’S MIND or the Progressive Metal side of AVENGED SEVENFOLD you will adore ‘Escape of the Phoenix’. With a European & UK tour due in October & November of this year, EVERGREY can go into this shows with great pride, knowing they shall be promoting another mighty fine piece of work.
01. Forever Outsider
02. Where August Mourn
04. A Dandelion Cipher
05. The Beholder
06. In the Absence of Sun
07. Eternal Nocturnal
08. Escape from the Phoenix
09. You from You
10. Leaden Saints
Tom S. Englund – Vocals, Guitar
Henrik Danhage – Guitar, Backing Vocals
Johan Niemann – Bass, Backing Vocals
Rikard Zander – Keyboards, Backing Vocals
Jonas Ekdahl – Drums
Total: 8.5 / 10