1.Broken Wings 04:42
4.When Kingdoms Fall 05:33
5.In Confidence 04:03
9.Nothing Is Erased 04:41
10.Still Walk Alone 04:44
11.These Scars 05:51
Evergrey have been a trusted name in Progressive Metal for about 10 years now, always capable of delivering their unique brand of melodic progressive metal with a darker twist to it. In the early 2000's they put out a string of untouchable albums, but then something happened. Two years ago, the band faltered, breaking their streak of otherwise great albums. Monday Morning Apocalypse failed to not only impress me, but many other Evergrey fans. It's concentration on down-tuned chugga-chugga riffs with little melodic substance to go with it was the first turn off. Second came the annoying vocal effects which really put a damper on Tom Englund's already subpar vocal performance. And to round out the dissapointments, the album sounded very poor, a far cry from Andy Laroque-produced masterpieces of In Search of Truth and Recreation Day. Now that we are faced with a new Evergrey album in the form of "Torn", there are many many questions in my mind going in. If this was going to be another Monday Morning Apocalypse, I wasn't even sure I would buy it to keep my collection complete. On the other hand, there was the chance for the band to grasp back at some of their former glory. Thus, I was extremely anxious to hear what they came up with.
Things start off with "Broken Wings", which does very well to set the tone for the album. It becomes pretty apparent within the first minute what the band's intentions were here. The band haven't really diminished the down-tuned heaviness present on the last album, they've merely made it more tolerable by accompanying with tasty guitar harmonies and melodic elements, much more in the style of past albums such as Recreation Day. By the time we arrive at the chorus, my foot is already well into tapping. The second verse is a bit of scare, with some of the vocal effects of the last album, but not to worry, it's one of the only times you'll hear them on the album. This is surprisingly "uptempo" by Evergrey standards, but by no means lacks the emotional punch of many of their previous works. This is certainly no "The Masterplan", but is easily an improvement and did well to put many of my early fears to rest. "Soaked" greets us with a very confrontational vocal-driven intro, which really took me by surprise. This track helps establish a blessing and a curse theme of the album. Many of the verses to be found here are nothing really impressive, but the choruses are really strong and memorable. The solo here is really excellent. I think both Tom and Henrik play parts of it, and the whole thing works really really well. "Fear" follows almost step-by-step in its predecessors tracks... with medicore verses and a really great chorus. The album's fourth track, "When Kingdoms Fall" is its second taste of greatness (next to the opener). It offers a nice change of pace, allowing some piano and whatnot to drive the opening verse, rather than the down-tuned guitars. The chorus is another melodic one, featuring another great and emotional vocal performance by Tom Englund. The instrumental section to this one is a real keeper as well, this track is just all around very good, possibly the highlight of the album for me actually. "In Cofidence" really brings nothing new to the table, and falls neither among the best nor weakest tracks on the album. "Fail", the track the band chose to release in advance, is a good taste of the album, and probably ranks among its better tracks for me. This song doesn't suffer from the same drastic quality difference between verses and choruses that many others do. The instrumental sections also offer some really sweet guitar harmonies. This track also probably bears more in common with older Evergrey than most of the rest of this CD. The next highlight track to be mention here is the title track, "Torn". The acoustic guitars on the verses here are a really nice break from the heaviness of the rest of the album, almost reminiscent of something from The Dark Discovery ("As Light is Our Darkness"). This is probably the closest thing this album has to a ballad, and is probably the most emotional track on here, which is saying a lot for a band like Evergrey. "Nothing is Erased" and "Still Walk Alone" are more or less cut from the same mold of good-but-not-greatness, the former being the better of the two. So, we arrive at the final track, "These Scars", on which a lot of pressure fell. Things get off to a fairly standard start with the verses, but the chorus shows all the rhythm guitars drop out at first, leading the way for a really nice post-chorus harmony which Evergrey can never have too many of. This track treats us to a great underappreciated bonus of Evergrey, Tom's wife, Carina Englund. She gets an entire vocal passage to herself her, which is really awesome and adds a great touch to the track. Following that we have some nice keyboards which, while being more present here than on MMA, are still under-used. After a nice instrumental section we are returned to the final choruses and instrumental section. The track ends with about 45 seconds worth of orchestral outro in the vein of the track Recreation Day. This track definitely leaves an overall good taste in your mouth.
So, what do we have here? I'll be frank. There are two things I will say in confidence (pun intended) about this album. First of all, this is a very big improvement over Monday Morning Apocalypse. Second, this is not the glorious return to the past that it could have been. This is no doubt a good, enjoyable album, but it stills fall short of the band's best works. Any dissapointment aside, I am more excited than I am upset, as this album renews my faith in Evergrey, one of my favorite bands. This album proves that they still have all that it takes to delivery some really great material, and I'm happy with it.