|Musical Style: Melodic Metal||Produced By:|
|Record Label: Ulterium||Country Of Origin: Sweden|
|Year Released: 2006||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 42:22|
Evergrace came together in early 2001 and proceeded to tour its native Sweden over the next several years until vocalist Johan Falk, feeling that the bands music needed improvement and a greater sense of depth, decided to enroll in a local music program at ITM. Continuing to play the sporadic show in order to keep its momentum going, Evergrace did not hit its stride, however, until Johan completed his music training in early 2006. The band, at this point, renewed its commitment to record a full length album, and, after shopping its material to several labels, soon signed a deal with Sweden’s Ulterium Records.
The best way to describe Evergrace’s 2006 self-titled Ulterium debut would be melodic metal combining the catchy hooks of Harmony and Magnitude 9 with the guitar driven heaviness that 7 Days and Majestic Vanguard bring to the table. The end result is a very fine work in which the band puts the melodic in the melodic metal in no uncertain terms, best exhibiting its infectious brand of songwriting on standout tracks such as “The Escape”, “Life Has Just Begun…”, “Alive”, “Plastic Ideals” and “I Am Sorry For You – Part I”. In the end, if you are a fan of the previously mentioned bands in addition to Narnia, Wingdom, Shining Star, Audiovision, XT, Teramaze and Stryper then the melodic filled sounds of Evergrace are certain to appeal to you.
A six piece outfit, Evergrace showcases the clean sounding, mid-octave ranged lead vocal style of Johan Falk. The guitar team of Jon Balefalk and David Ohlsson combine for an abundance of crisp sounding rhythm guitar in addition to trading off on lead guitar. While the two might not posses the flair of fellow Swedes Markus Sigfridsson (Harmony, 7 Days) or Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia), they put in a strong showing nonetheless, effectively adorning “Enough Is Enough”, “Alive” and “Plastic Ideals” with their fluid style of playing. Keyboardist Jonathan Stenberg does a good job of adding just the right amount of touch to each song without coming across overriding. The rhythm section of bassist Martin Davidsson and drummer Josef Davidsson anchors the low end tight and steady.
Production values are of the polished and professional sounding variety that enhance without detracting from the bands sound.
Please note that there has been a certain amount of controversy in regards to the source of the bands name, many claiming it was intentionally chosen to resemble that of the progressive-power metal band Evergrey. However, such is not the case in that Johan, a big video game fan, took it from the Playstation 2 game of the same name. Another take on Evergrace is that it has strong biblical connotations in that as Christians we are literally given “everlasting grace” in Christ.
It is also worth pointing out Evergrace's “Christian members in the band” approach, the band choosing to keep a low profile while exhibiting its Christian morality through its lyrical direction.
“The Escape” opens the album to clashing symbols before gradually moving ahead to a muscular guitar riff. Slowly crunchy through its verse portions, the song builds and gains momentum until peaking for a soaring chorus with a catchy, refuse to go away hook. The rhythm guitar carries the extent of a minute long instrumental section. “The Escape” touches upon the bands faith:
All alone I go
I leave my sorrows
Falling from my own
Find Your way into my soul
Several seconds of open air rhythm guitar initiates “Life Has Just Begun…” before it takes off at a commanding mid-tempo pace. The song tapers off slightly for its first verse only to pick up in pace for the second, a smooth sounding environment put in place as it obtains a chorus guaranteed to pull you in as a result of the infectious manner in which it is delivered. The melody here is quite pronounced and will refuse to leave your head.
“Enough Is Enough” immediately kicks in at an upbeat tempo prior to transitioning to a hard hitting riff that almost gives rise to a slight thrash feel. Maintaining the energy-laden impetus during its first verse, “Enough Is Enough” evenly flows to a sweeping chorus shored up by a touch of catchy vocal harmonies. Slowing for a passage carried by an acoustic guitar, the pace picks up as the song moves on to an instrumental section highlighted by a fluid guitar solo. “Enough Is Enough” talks about a broken relationship:
Come watch me now
And you’ll see that
I’m stronger without you
This time around
It is you who will see me from behind
Beginning quietly to a trace of acoustic guitar, “Alive” abruptly takes off in a guitar driven fashion only to briefly peak for a crescendo of thrash flavored riffs. The song proceeds to forge ahead with an abundance of purposeful initiative, not culminating until reaching a chorus with one of those catchy hooks that will take you captive and refuse to let go. A fierily played guitar solo holds sway over an extended instrumental section.
A drum solo gets “Plastic Ideas” underway before a swell of rumbling guitar riffs take hold of the mix. Gradually but tenaciously crawling its way forward, the song transitions to a hook-filled chorus backed by a just the right amount of crunchy rhythm guitar. More blazing lead guitar work dominates a perfectly times instrumental section. The lyrics here focus on looking beneath the surface of things:
Plastic ideals, blinding your eyes
An empty shell, reflecting a lie
Walking along the road that you’re on
You are buried from life
Weakness and sorrow
Is all it can give
Try to remember
You’re still above ground
“I Am You” slowly fades in to a keyboard solo that soon gives way to a crisp acoustic guitar. Suddenly picking up in pace to a forward wall of rhythm guitar, the song slows as an edge flavored riff helps lead the way through its first verse in a gritty manner. Background vocals stand in support of the emotionally charged chorus that follows. Very well done.
The straightforward hard rocker “Ulterior World” jumps out of the gate in quickly moving fashion, sustaining the upbeat tempo as it steadily pushes its way to a galloping chorus conveying a plethora of symphonic impetus. A sweeping instrumental section is carried by a blend of piercing leads and thrash-like riffs. “Ulterior World” comes across in the form of a double meaning for eternal life:
I leave for more
Out of this wasteland I’ll go
I leave for more
Into a sacred world I’ll fly
Heading away, awaiting fruition
Fearless for all
Over the seas, cruising the surface
The three minute “World Of Nothingness” moves through its first verse with the rhythm guitar taking a reduced role in the mix. As the rhythm guitar moves to a place of prominence, however, the song reaches an extensive chorus giving rise to a deep and dark sounding ambience.
An intense double bass driven riff holds sway over “I Am Sorry For You – Part I” before it evens out upon obtaining its first verse. Advancing at a staunch mid-tempo pace, a plethora of infectious momentum is created as the song acquires a flowing chorus fortified by the bands trademark lush vocal harmonies. I wish an instrumental section carried by several seconds of catchy guitar harmony had been expanded upon.
The ballad “I Am Sorry For You – Part II (Hold On)” is compelled its brief (2:37) distance by a blend of piano and acoustic guitar.
The full length self-titled debut of Sweden’s Evergrace proves a very classy effort from front to back. In showcasing its melodic brand of songwriting and adept level of musicianship, this talented six piece outfit is certain to be a force in the metal scene for years to come. Looking forward to hearing more from these guys in the future.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “The Escape” (4:48), “Life Has Just Begun…” (4:23), “Enough Is Enough” (4:53), “Alive” (4:31), “Plastic Ideals” (3:42), “I Am You” (5:27), “Ulterior World” (4:47), “World Of Nothingness” (3:04), “I Am Sorry For You – Part I” (4:18), “I Am Sorry For You – Part II (Hold On)” (2:23)
Johan Falk – Lead Vocals
Jon Balefalk - Guitars
David Ohlsson – Guitars
Jonathan Stenberg – Keyboards
Martin Davidsson – Bass
Josef Davidsson - Drummer