Band: Evergrey
Album: Hymns For The Broken
Release Date: September 26, 2014
Label: AFM Records
Reviewer: Habib Tabaja
Rating: 9.5/10

The Swedish progressive power metallers from Gothenburg return with a powerful new album after a brief hiatus. Hymns for the Broken sees the band lineup return to what can be deemed a solid state after suffering much instability for the past decade. It is notable that guitarist Henrik Danhage and drummer Jonas Ekdahl have rejoined the band, which influences much of the album’s progression from previous ones.
The album’s theme revolves around inner struggles and a personal revolution, so it seems to be written from a very personal viewpoint. The opening track “The Awakening” serves as a chilling prologue with a warlike ambience that culminates in the beginning of the next track, “King of Errors”. It is one of the album’s most distinctive songs, with moderately-paced heavy riffs and a fiery guitar solo around the middle. Tom Englund’s vocals add sincere emotion to the song’s gravitas, as is demonstrated in the rest of the album. A video shot in black and white was also released for “King of Errors” directed by Patrick Ullaeus, and it excellently captures the song’s vibe as well as the album’s general atmosphere. Another notable thing about this song and the album in general is the increased use of pianos, augmenting the emotional weight of the entire album with heart-rending melodies. Another good example of this is the piano solo and melody in the next song, “A New Dawn”, which is faster paced than the previous two songs. The guitar solo towards the end demonstrates the newly-reformed spirit of the band.
What makes Hymns an enjoyable piece of musical work is how the band progresses in their songs while building tension, both emotional and musical. The power ballad-like “Wake a Change” packs a powerful punch of Tom’s vocals along with a catchy chorus and melody. “Archaic Rage” also holds the same characteristics as the previous track, but with more emphasis on the instrumental aspect of the song through an alternation of heavy, melodic riffs and great vocals. The following song, “Barricades”, is one of the songs with a more classic and anthem-like vibe on the album in general, featuring faster riffs at points and a battle-centered lyrical theme. It also has a great guitar solo.
Although “Black Undertow” begins with a soft tune, it has some heavy moments and alternates between calm melodies and heavy riffs. It generally has a calmer atmosphere in the most of it, but Tom’s indomitable vocals seem to suit the song quite well, in a sense that heavy guitars are not needed in some of its parts.  One of the heavier and faster-paced songs on the album, “The Fire” combines more aggressive guitar play and soulful vocals. It also features the vocals of Carina Kjellberg-Englund, Tom’s wife, who adds a beautiful vocal element to the song.
The title track, “Hymns for the Broken”, truly deserves the title in a sense that its vocals and catchy chorus perfectly echo the theme of the album. It certainly is one of the most powerful tracks on the albums, if not the most powerful. It also demonstrates a sincere passion in its rich guitar and piano elements. Its guitar solo, while not the most remarkable one on the album, is definitely as soulful as the song itself.
The album takes a slightly different, calmer direction in the song “I Miss You”, which relies solely on pianos and Tom’s fervid vocals to create an impassioned, romantic ballad on this emotionally-moving album. However, in the penultimate song, “The Grand Collapse”, Evergrey return to a heavier atmosphere of music that features rapid, robust riffs as well as the occasional piano and quiet vocal intermissions. The song does have its calm moments as well, with the length of it being a factor allowing for such diversity in styles and atmospheres. It was significant that the last two songs on the album were the longest (around 7 and half minutes each), which also gave them much space for musical variance. The final track on the album, “The Aftermath”, concludes the album on a generally softer albeit melancholic note but with much vehemence and ballad-like elements throughout its entirety. It slowly builds up its pace with Tom’s fervent vocals as well as acoustic guitars and pianos, and ends with a wonderful classic vibe.
Lyrically, the Hymns for the Broken is impressive, uplifting, and cathartic. The same goes for the music involved, as it seems that Evergrey have returned to some of their earlier styles. The band coming back together with a more stable lineup warrants the fact that this album is quite solid, powerful, passionate, and beautiful. It is also evident that the album shows significant progression from their previous release, Glorious Collision (2011), especially with regards to the mixing and producing of the album.

My overall impression is a greatly positive one, reassuring me that Evergrey are definitely in a better position musically than they were in the most of the past decade. I highly recommend this album, as listening to it is a wonderful and empowering experience. Hymns for the Broken definitely stands out among the metal album releases of this year. 

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