It was like yesterday when “The Atlantic” was released, the last part of the trilogy that began with the rebirth of Evergrey in 2014 and the excellent “Hymns For The Broken” and “The Storm Within”. And yet, two years have passed since then. The pandemic may have forced so many bands to cancel their tours, but it gave them time to write new music.
The result? The twelfth full-length in the history of this supreme Swedish band. The prog/power metallers continue the upward course they have in recent years, maintaining the best line-up they have ever had and enjoying increased success and recognition, which they fully deserve if we consider the masterpieces they have given us in their career so far.
“Escape Of The Phoenix” continues with the absolutely characteristic sound of the Swedish quintet. This sound that combines amazing songwriting, high technique from awesome musicians, trademark melodies and of course the unique voice of their leader Tom Englund who give us memorable moments, again.
The band once again does not repeat itself and makes an album that is different from what they had released in recent years. There are very heavy and catchy moments, such as the excellent “Forever Outsider” and “Eternal Nocturnal”, i.e. the first singles from here. Classic Evergrey hymns with simple structures, great riffs, refrains that stay in your mind and wonderful solos by the amazing Henrik Danhage (in the first) and Tom/Henrik (in the second).
But there are also some more melancholic and calm songs where the keyboards lead. For example, “Stories”, a beautiful ballad. Or “The Beholder” with the participation of James LaBrie which makes me wonder if all the other singers in the world died in order to choose him. Or the enchanting “In Absense Of Sun” with the amazing refrain and melodies.
Of course, the band shows its progressive nature in songs such as “Where August Mourn” with the very intense and characteristic bass, “You From You” with a staggering Tom in the guitar solo or the excellent “Leaden Saint” with top-notch songwriting. There are no fillers here and all together create a very satisfying album.
You cannot put Evergrey in a mold. They have an instantly recognizable, charismatic singer and songs that differ not only from their previous releases but also from each other. “Escape Of The Phoenix” is quite melancholic and I think it will satisfy many of their fans. I know it did that on me. And last but not least: Giannis Nakos (Remedy Art Design) probably surpassed himself again with the incredible cover he designed.