Review | Evergrey – Theories of Emptiness

Napalm Records

It remains impressive how Gothenburg’s metal icons Evergrey are able to reinvent their music slapping bigger and better records at us with every release. Their latest album, `Theories of Emptiness’, is a powerful testament to the band’s enduring presence in the progressive metal scene. From the moment the first track kicks in, listeners are thrust into a sonic journey filled with intricate melodies, thunderous riffs, impressive progressive drumming, and thought-provoking lyrics. 


One of the most remarkable qualities of Evergrey is their adeptness at striking a balance between complexity and accessibility. Each track serves as a testament to their musical craftsmanship, featuring dynamic arrangements that ebb and flow with melancholic and musical precision. Whether it’s the searing guitar solos or the haunting keyboard passages, every element feels painstakingly crafted to evoke deep and dark emotions in order to ensnare the listener.

Thematically, `Theories of Emptiness’ delves into the intricacies of the human psyche, exploring the human spectrum of mood changes and fluctuating emotional states; from the depths of gruelling depression and anxiety to the rich depth of psychological emotions hailing from mankind’s surroundings. Musically, the album captures these raw and deep emotions, immersing listeners in the multifaceted states of the human mind while venturing into new sonic territories without sacrificing their distinctive sound.


Guitarist and singer Tom S. Englund delivers reflective (almost meditative rooted) lyrics with raw sincerity, drawing audiences into a realm of introspection and contemplation melodically reshaping the band’s musical landscape for this album. Opening with Ekdahl‘s signature thunderous drum patterns, ,,Falling from the Sun”, a sequel to `The Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)’, immediately launches into orbit. The track seamlessly merges impressive drum and bass interplay with Danhage’s fierce, snarling riff, amplifying its raw intensity and power.

As it progresses into the refrain, the song builds towards an irresistibly melodic, soaring chorus, captivating listeners with its nested appeal. Vocal harmonies intertwine, blending the band’s exquisite melodies with their technical prowess. Beneath the lyrical prose of the chorus, Johan Niemann‘s bass takes center stage, drawing keen ears with his fluent, melodic playing style and impeccable palm-muted technique, complemented by Rikard Zander‘s subtle keys. The atmospheric discharge, coupled with the repetitive vocal motif, creates a blistering gripping ascent.

As the drums intensify, Henrik’s chordal prowess shines through, setting the stage for an electrifying solo. During the song’s breakdown, the drums shift into double bass, while Niemann’s bass navigates up and down the neck, further enhancing the scorching progressive poise of Evergrey. 


An ominous Sabbath-esque riff sets the stage for Tom’s declaration, “Let me show you the demons I’m breeding, I come down like a storm“, gripping listeners with haunting intensity. As the repetitive melody builds momentum, Moog’s presence emerges, leading the way before Jonas steers the track into darker, heavier territories. The song unleashes its full force, with eerie keys taking center stage above the bridge and chorus’s mournful wail. Chants and string arrangements add layers to the piano strokes, heightening the song’s sinister atmosphere. Midway through, the track delves into a relentless onslaught, driven by pounding drums and the deep growl of the bass. Englund’s anger-laden scats provide a momentary release before the chorus’s resurgence, nestling melodically while sending shivers down the spine.

This ominous crawl and foreboding tone also permeate ,,We are the North”, delving into the band’s exploration of ancestral history. As the ravishing riff surges over misty keyboards, one can envision Vikings charging through the waves. Tom’s vocals traverse a spectrum from brutal power to poignant reflection, capturing the essence of fierce myths and melancholic realities. The song delves into the doom of ages, addressing present-day hypocrisy in glorifying victories stained with bloodshed. 


Mixing up those heavy punches and scorching riff, the guitar interaction blends with nesting melodies, like on ,,Cold Dreams” which sees a pulsating high-tech entrance that leads to a heavy on the gut soar of vocals. The vocal trade-off between Tom Englund and Katatonia’s Jonas Renske adds a different flavor. When the song hits its ethereal instrumental section, it reminds slightly of Pink Floyd’s symphonic passages with Tom’s daughter Salina soothing the atmosphere with her angelic chants. 

Contrary, ,,The Night Within” leans heavily on drizzle of keyboards and propelling guitar hooks. The song builds with typical Englund vocals, drawing melancholy and agony to the surface. The broiling melody and instrumental passages keep revolting around the sticky vocal melody and popping keyboard drizzle. 

Entirely different is the construction of ,,One Heart”, which leans on (believe it or not) 90s arena rock melodies in the opening and chorus. Don’t be scared off, as it also injects the band’s typical ingredients, heavy’ing up the melodies with brisk drum fireworks and guitars. Growling low bass drones in the song’s lower regions ensuring the gravitas of Evergrey metal. Going into the solo the pitch is enormous with the twin solo section topping it off in style towards the harmonized chanted (repetitive) chorus. The song displays the band’s skills in unloading heavy progressive metal while leaning on melodic slickness.


Danhage and Niemann feed off their bass and guitar interaction amidst Zander’s intense keys with Ekdahl laying down his enigmatic drum patterns with force in ,,Say”. Switching double bass and snare with dynamic fills, his ‘hollow’ pounding chops are benchmark. Guitars well with 80s shred magnitude switching riff and lick in its themes with both players trading off their best. The drone of bass and riff constantly returns and the drizzle of keys impact on the output, giving the song an unpredictable ooze.

Highlights are here as many as there are tracks on this album. Amidst all this orbiting prog the resting point is a mesmerizing metal ‘ballad’ breaking the turmoil; ,,Ghost of My Hero” roars with weeping instrumentation. In a subtle impactful shift, Tom infuses the song with a tapping trap beat, offering a modern twist to the band’s sound while maintaining its introspective allure. The chorus emerges as the highlight, with lush string arrangements amplifying Tom’s emotionally charged vocal performance. His poignant delivery resonates with melancholic depth, leaving a profound impact. Meanwhile, the low-end bass lines carve through the song’s grand structure, eliciting a pulsating head-nodding response. Ethereal chants intertwine with the strings, imbuing the track with a sense of emotional grandeur as Tom’s impassioned cry, “I know you’re the ghost of my Hero” rings out.


The closing tracks of the album, ,,Our Way through Silence” and the concise cinematic piece bearing the album’s title, exemplify Evergrey’s mastery of melody at its zenith. The first seamlessly weaves together a tapestry of soothing and immersive melodies, underscored by an unmistakable sense of urgency stemming from their exceptional musicianship. The robust bass playing of Niemann and Ekdahl’s dynamic drumming provides a sturdy foundation, while the guitar introduces an irresistibly melodic motif reminiscent of Coldplay yet tinged with the edginess of Killing Joke

The vocals gracefully navigate atop the jagged riff, punctuated by the stabbing pressure of the keys. A dazzling solo ensues, seamlessly leading back into the song’s compelling chorus. Closing the record in style the band zooms out with `A Theory of Emptiness’, with its narrative touching deep, spoken with mesmerizing ooze. The keys and string arrangement underneath the graceful ambient piano paint the picture with loneliness and desolation percolating. It clamps on your soul, leaving mysterious trails merging into a veil of mist.


Overall, `Theories of Emptiness’ stands as a triumphant testament to the enduring influence in the progressive metal genre of Evergrey. The album sees the band rekindling their signature fiery intensity while delving into mesmerizing melodies that cascade over a brooding and commanding dark atmosphere. Remarkably, these prog icons seamlessly infuse fresh, modern elements into their sound without losing touch with their power metal roots or loyal fanbase. The album is a stunning display of creativity, immediately etching itself into the listener’s psyche as a timeless masterpiece.

Its captivating melodies are further enhanced by expansive harmonized vocal sections and choruses, elevating the grandeur of each composition. With its intricate arrangements, impassioned performances, and thought-provoking lyrics, this album is bound to resonate deeply with both long-time enthusiasts and newcomers alike.

Release date: 7 June 2024


Gothenburg's [Sweden] finest export of darkness, led by founder, singer and guitarist Tom S. Englund.
Active since 1995.


Progressive, heavy melodic metal




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