EVERGREY – A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) (2022)

EVERGREY - A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) (2022) full

Sweden’s metallers EVERGREY enters an bewildering new chapter in the band’s history with their thirteenth studio album “A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)”, to be released on May 20, 2022 via Napalm Records. The band’s has added to their progressive heaviness a new factor: a melodic, melancholic touch, almost goth, at places dark beauty.
Whatever you do, don’t listen to ”A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” through your phone speaker. Just don’t. It is easily one of the most densely layered affairs of EVERGREY’s career, at once distancing itself from previous CD ‘Rise of The Phoenix’ as being a totally different animal, and the mix alone deserves some really good headphones, earbuds, or external speakers if that’s what you have to do.

This thing is dense and immense. The mix and master of Jacob Hansen is stupefying – the slight shimmers of embellishment of keys or a slick bassline dance in the background of the larger show but are not bit players, either.
EVERGREY feel and sound rejuvenated in every sense of the word. Keys play an integral part in the sound here, as with most recent releases, but they are at once morose and oddly playful. There is also experimentation in the delivery of vocals, at times almost gang vocal territory but also more aggression and bite than Tom Englund has had a in a while.

Right from the get go, “Save Us” kicks in and is a great introduction for the album. What’s even cooler, is that the aforementioned gang style vocals are fans – EVERGREY having petitioned fans for their voices to include on the track. Easily having one of the best choruses of the band’s career, full stop, “Save Us” grabs the attention of the listener. That attention, it should be noted, is not likely to wane throughout the duration of the album.
Speaking of keys, the introduction to fourth track “Call Out The Dark” reminds me of a music box, a truly unique experience in the context of a metal album. It coaxes the listener in, albeit briefly, before the song fully kicks in. It’s a transition you can feel and is very effective.

“The Orphean Testament” has one of the tastiest riffs in recent memory – slashing about with gleeful abandon before settling into a deep and swelling chorus with tasteful leads to add to the atmosphere.
That atmosphere continues into what I believe is one of the best EVERGREY songs of recent times, “Reawakening” – the keys wash over in a cascade of ambiance and drive the melodious nature of the track. The vocals are delivered in resplendent fashion and the rhythm section, particularly drummer Jonas Ekdahl, absolutely shiines.
The riffs don’t stop coming, either. “The Great Unwashed” is low and slow, and again, those little embellishments raise the bar. The underlying keys are prog gold, reminiscent knowingly or unknowingly of DREAM THEATER, at least to my ears.

”A Heartless Portrait” is shorter than its predecessor but it doesn’t feel stunted in any way. Every song, every note of composition, is so incredibly deliberate that it is almost too much to take. The emotional nakedness is at once arresting and disarming.
The album ends with a ballad. I really don’t know what else to say about that except that it is a rarity and, in this case, performed excellently. At the end, the listener doesn’t feel as though they are wanting more or that there are any qualities lacking.
Plainly put, EVERGREY keep getting better with every album. That too is a rarity – a true gift to not only the fan but also the band since it certainly eliminates the feeling of repeating oneself.

”A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)” is the sound of a group progression, pushing itself to be its very best out of a need to be exactly that. There is no fat to trim here, every movement is exactly where it needs to be.
Highly Recommended


01 – Save Us
02 – Midwinter Calls
03 – Ominous
04 – Call Out The Dark
05 – The Orphean Testament
06 – Reawakening
07 – The Great Unwashed
08 – Heartless
09 – Blindfolded
10 – Wildfires

Tom S. Englund – vocals, guitar
Henrik Danhage – guitar, backing vocals
Rikard Zander – keyboards, backing vocals
Jonas Ekdahl – drums
Johan Niemann – bass, backing vocals


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