Celebrating over 25 years as Gothenburg’s finest metal export, Evergrey mark the occasion with their thirteenth studio album, ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’, released May 20th. A testament to a world many feel no longer a part of. One that incorporates the story of Orpheus, who, in Greek Mythology, journeyed into the Underworld, Hades, to try and save the love of his life, the tale is given a twist to reflect how we, as a society, have lost our way. Brimming with melancholy songs for the gods to cry over, it is an album fan can wholeheartedly embrace.
As is the case with Evergrey, vocalist Tom S. Englund remains at the forefront across these ten tracks. Teasing out things we didn’t know existed with a brooding performance. Acknowledging the versions of ourselves we only know in the dark. “Save Us” and “Midwinter Calls” serve as the album’s opening tracks and leading singles. Both offer a delightfully fractured dichotomy with their intense, instrumental force of technically driven riffs balanced against soaring, melodious choruses. Each features harmonies and gang chants as hundreds of fans lend their voices to the songs, enriching the overall experience.
One of the primary attractions, as always, is the emotive musicality Evergrey fans experience when listening to a new Evergrey record. And ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’ is no exception. “Wildfires” is a sensitive and haunting ballad with glistening instrumentation and a striking vocal performance by Englund. Keys and synth provided by Rikard Zander dominate tracks like “Call Out the Dark” and “Heartless,” while guitarist Henrik Danhage, drummer Jonas Ekdahl and bassist Johan Niemann reign supreme on heavier numbers. Including the title track, ‘A Heartless Portrait”, and the aptly titled “Ominous,” the pair work in tandem to deliver some of Evergrey’s heaviest numbers.
Instead of searching their past, Evergrey uses their thirteenth album to contemplate the present and to heed concerning signs for the future. Inviting fans to join them in their journey to the edge of the abyss to peek over the edge. Encouraging us all to not follow in the footsteps of Orpheus, but to keep our eyes fixed forward as we stare down into it. ‘A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’ is an album that hurts and heals simultaneously, re-cementing Evergrey as purveyors of possibility in progressive metal.