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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Label: Inside Out Records
Evergrey is Swedish progressive rock metal. The Inner Circle is a concept album dealing with a person who is convinced the best way to be happy is to join a cult. The cult then acts as any rational person would expect: they strip him of any self-worth, dignity, or individuality in order to make him completely dependent upon them.
The most disturbing thing about this disc is the spoken word pieces that are entwined with the songs: they sound a lot like American televangelists, giving their version of the health and wealth gospel. One can only hope this is not the view of American churchgoers by those who observe from other countries.
Evergrey mixes elements of Queensryche (“A Touch of Blessing.” “In the Wake of the Weary”) with '80’s prog metal (“More than Ever”), with a dose of Europe-style guitar. “Ambassador” showcases Tom Englund’s vocals, but falls prey to the latest metal relevancy trick: mixing “hardcore” Cookie Monster growl/scream vocals into a song that otherwise sounds great.
With themes of faith, and questioning the world around us, The Inner Circle may well be the secular counterpart to Extreme’s Pornograffiti. Musically, it is unquestionably magnificent. Lyrically, it is alternately disturbing and challenging.
Brian A. Smith