Evergrey - Recreation Day

Year of Release: 2003
Label: InsideOut
Catalog Number: IOMCD 117
Format: CD
Total Time: 49:19:00

Recreation Day wastes no time getting started, lauching itself with a guitar solo from guitarist/vocalist Tom Englund in "The Great Deceiver." That this track doesn't quite work with its unimpressive arrangement (it's a little clumsy) doesn't seem to bode well for the rest of the album. However, the band do hit the mark fairly consistantly, making Recreation Day a much better than average release. It does pale a bit in comparison to In Search Of Truth, however. In addition to the opener, I'll just mention that "Blinded" and "Fragments" fall in the category of pieces that are merely average (the dark, church-like choir in "Fragments" is just a tad over the top, a little too gothic).

The title track, on the other hand, is one of the strongest tracks on the album. It is an epic track, made big by expansive keyboard passages, a chorus of voices backing Englund for the chorus, a tight, yet easy going arrangement. The guitar solos are jagged and yet light shimmers off those edges; newcomer Rikard Zander makes a fine impression with his piano-like keyboard solo in this piece, leading into another guitar solo, this one picking up on the elegent beauty of the keyboard -- a solo informed by the emotive style of David Gilmore without sounding particularly Gilmore-esque. It is the standard the rest of the album has to live up to.

Recreation Day is a heavy album in everyway - chugging guitars (Englund and Henrick Danhage) and bass (Michael Hakansson), driving drums (Patrick Carlsson), dark tones, tight arrangements - all those things we expect from Evergrey. And unlike a lot releases by their contemporaries, keyboards are mixed perfectly. In the mix rather than off to the side, without either being buried or dominating over everything else (though there is a bit of odd placement in "As I Lie Here Bleeding"). They are times quite orchestral, and nearly always seem to open things up, giving the music depth and breadth. Zander gets to play another wonderful piano-like solo in the another standout track "Your Darkest Hour."

One thing I do need to say about Evergrey is that this is a mature band - this is fact is evident from every move they make. Sure, its easy to say that about serious material, but even the most serious of bands can handle topics like death, suicide, fear, etc in a way that leaves out a lot of the gravitas these subjects have in the real world. Let's say Englund and company cut through the easy cliches and hyperbolic emotions to ferret out the core of those emotions. Death and, in a way, rebirth is the subject matter here on Recreation Day ... "End Of Days" could be a syrupy and overly sentimental piece about death - either via illness or age -- but instead is a moving piece of regret; regret that we are but mere mortals after all, that sometimes, despite best efforts, death is inevitable. And part of the reason it isn't syrupy is because it comes at you with the same ferocity as the heaviest of Evergrey's tracks. Englund's delivery is honest and straightforward, and yet the arrangement makes gives this an epic, emotional feel, mainly through the choir of voices that sings the choruses and atmosphere provided by keys. It contrasts with the following piece, "As I Lie Here Bleeding" where the protagonist has taken (or tried to take unsuccessfully) his own life. One could read it in various ways: free of his troubles, he is addressing God for help; or having been spared (that failure to succeed in suicide), is addressing God. This is one of those tracks that has a chorus that will stick in your mind.

"Visions" is a powerhouse of snarling energy, the gritty edge to Englund's voice underscoring the frustration, anger and controlled rage of the protagonist; a protagonist who is plagued by visions he can't stop of a future he can do nothing about. This piece ends with a sense of false calm as Zander plays a melancholy, atmospheric passage till fade. Tinkling piano like tones pick up the mood for the next track "I'm Sorry," a track that opens up to epic proportions during the first chorus.

"Madness Caught ANother Victim" is a dual acoustic guitar based vocal track - Evergrey unplugged, you might say. Thing is, it works and despite having a country feel about the edges, one cannot say Evergrey go country.

While Recreation Day isn't the perfect Evergrey album, it is, overall, a strong album. One that fans will like, even if they are somewhat disappointed by some of the material. But, Evergrey is band I heartily recommend, including this album.

The Great Deceiver (4:18) / End of Your Days (4:38) / As I Lie Here Bleeding (3:51) / Recreation Day (5:21) / Visions (6:01) / I'm Sorry (3:18) / Blinded (4:34) / Fragments (5:37) / Madness Caught Another Victim (2:59) / Your Darkest Hour (6:14) / Unforgivable (4:28)

Tom S. Englund - guitars and vocals
Henrik Danhage - guitars
Patrick Carlsson - drums and percussion
Michael Hakansson - bass
Rikard Zander - keyboards

The Dark Discovery (1998)
Solitude*Dominance*Tragedy (1999)
In Search Of Truth (2001)
Recreation Day (2003)
Inner Circle (2004)
The Dark Discovery - Special Edition (2004)
Solitude*Dominance*Tragedy - Special Edition (2004)
A Night To Remember - Live 2004 (2005)
Monday Morning Apocalypse (2006)
Torn (2008)
Glorious Collision (2011)
Hymns For The Broken (2014)
The Storm Within (2016)

A Night To Remember - Live 2004 (DVD) (2005)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin SE

Added: October 19th 2003
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.evergrey.net
Hits: 1080
Language: english


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