Torn by Evergrey
Release date : September 2008
Reviewed by Mark Fisher
In March 2008, Torn was revealed to be the title of Evergrey's seventh studio full length, and an initial music trailer was issued at the same time. One month later, an April edition music trailer followed. On April 30th at the Brew House in Gothenburg, Sweden, Evergrey took part in the Valborg Goes Live concert. To combat the group's split with InsideOut Music, in early May it was revealed that Evergrey had inked a record contract with SPV / Steamhammer which not only encompassed Torn, but the group's whole back catalogue. By mid May, the album's tracklisting was unveiled, as well as the album's artwork. Once again, Mattias Norén handled artwork. Based upon inaugural track “Broken Wings”, it documents an individual who has been wounded so many times that they encounter difficulty in remaining afloat. Cut at Division One Studios outside downtown Gothenburg, Sweden, the record was self-produced by vocalist Tom S. Englund alongside drummer Jonas Ekdahl. Additionally, Torn marks the first Evergrey album to feature erstwhile Stratovarius bassist Jari Kainulainen. To handle photography work in support of Torn's album booklet, Denmark's René Asmussen was hired.
At the SKC Club in Belgrade, Serbia, Evergrey performed on July 5th. An exclusive pre-order package in support of Torn was announced in late July, available from Evergrey's official website. It includes the following; a limited edition version of Torn replete with bonus track “Caught In a Lie”, an exclusive T-shirt, a signed postcard, and an exclusive Evergrey guitar pick. During early August, the track “Fail” was available for free download via the group's website. Torn was available for streaming in its entirety via the group's official MySpace page during early September for a lone seven day period, and a gydget in support of the album emerged midway into the month. At Media Markt in Gothenburg, Sweden on the 19th, Evergrey participated in a signing session.
In all, 2006's Monday Morning Apocalypse can be deemed both disappointing and confusing somewhat. By penning 2008's Torn, Evergrey has essentially refocused the group's sound. Far more guitar driven than its immediate predecessors, Torn wisely hearkens back to Evergrey's crowning achievement in 2003's Recreation Day. Torn exhibits Evergrey's continual pursuit of a more hook-oriented, polished sound, although the album's darker edge boasts mild aggression, not to mention a heavily anthemic quality. “Fail” comprises a great example, as does “Soaked”. Within both cuts, guitars soar, whilst the rhythm section's heavier vibe remains entrenched inside the background. Collectively, this sets the stage for vocals comparable to Lou Gramm (Foreigner) - that is, if Gramm had ventured towards Progressive music. In aiming towards mainstream success, Englund's vocals have always formed Evergrey's marketing avenue. Within Progressive Metal circles however, this has often prevented Evergrey from being hailed as amongst the greatest. Whilst admirers of Billboard Top 40 type material love Englund's vocal stylings, countless diehard Metal fanatics don't. Possessing an overtly mainstream voice, Englund tends to sound very much the same from composition to composition.
Should you be fearful of Torn's straightforward approach, then the title cut itself forms a stark exception. Alone even, this specific tune encompasses Evergrey's whole history. Remarkably dynamic, Torn interweaves acoustic style bridges alongside explosive choruses, and soaring, passionate vocals. This vocal work causes you to believe that the group's entire future solely relies upon a perfect execution of the track. If Evergrey could maintain this passion throughout the course of a full length, the group would unquestionably be kings of the genre.
To be truthful, this reviewer feels somewhat ambivalent towards Torn, and the thoughts of most Progressive Metal fanatics will likely reflect that opinion. Adhering to qualities present within fellow Evergrey albums, the production stylings are both crisp and clean, and Englund's vocals are unnervingly perfect, not to mention Torn's splendid cover artwork. However, much of Torn is sonically identical. Outside songwriters could prove beneficial, especially in light of the fact that in most instances, each specific juncture boasts merely slight variation. That songwriting framework comprises a great track though, so it's difficult to complain too profusely.