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DVD Review: Evergrey – A Night To Remember, Live 2004

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After a successful North American tour opening for their brothers in metal, Children Of Bodom and Iced Earth, Evergrey has stepped up to the plate with this headlining gig filmed on October 9, 2004 at the historic Storan Theater in their hometown of Gothenburg, Sweden – and they damn near hit a home run. Throwing all caution to the wind, they decided to do this one up right; big venue, big light show, and a big time producer – whether they could afford it or not. I hope it pays off fruitfully for these guys, because the end result is a killer two hour show captured brilliantly on one of the years best conceived DVD packages.

The concert’s opening scene is one of the coolest I have seen in a while, and it serves as the perfect introduction to this band’s dark sound and style. Ominous intro music fills the hall as the occasional white strobe illuminates a capacity crowd who are all clapping in perfect unison to the beat. A black curtain that has been hiding the large stage is slowly peeled away to reveal the band, clad in black leather, bathed in a menacing dark blue light, and standing eerily still like vampires ready to stalk their prey. After several seconds, the intro music morphs into the first strains of "Blinded" just as the crushing guitar riffs and machine gun double-bass drums assault the anxious crowd. Let the headbanging and hair twirling begin!

Before immersing myself into this DVD, I was only vaguely familiar with Sweden’s Evergrey, having only been introduced to the band via their 2003 breakthrough album "Recreation Day". I have never been the biggest fan of this particular genre of metal, which I would best describe as progressive, dark, power-metal. Evergrey reminds me somewhat of early Metallica, with the addition of dramatic keyboards and a more operatic vocalist, but without many of the memorable hooks and melodies that their mentors have produced. Everygrey continues to mature with each album and tour, so maybe one day they will rival that band’s success.

Each of Evergrey‘s five albums are represented here, but their latest one, The Inner Circle, gets the most attention. The songs range from epic power-ballads such as the grand "Waking Up Blind" and "For Every Tear that Falls", to the progressive death-metal assaults of "Blackened Dawn" and "The Master Plan". Just try to go to sleep within three hours of listening to that stuff. In between, you see them flirt with Dokken-esqe, 80’s-metal of "She Speaks To The Dead", and give props to Dio with "Rulers Of The Mind", but their bread and butter is definitely the murky, power-metal stuff.

The dark and foreboding atmosphere of this show was captured brilliantly by director Patric Ullaeus using 15 high-definition cameras. The stage is always appropriately darkened – lit only by deep blue lighting, white spotlights, and the large gothic-styled Evergrey logo that emblazons the back of the stage. Since the band are all dressed in black, there are times when you can barely see the whites of their eyes, even when they are the camera’s main focus. The camera angles are aplenty and often change much too quickly. Many of the shots are excessively blurry or grainy, almost to affect, while others are exceptionally clear. Some of the best camera angles come from an oval-lensed drum-cam that looks out over the kit and onto the entire crowd, as well a camera that floats barely above the heads of the crowd looking on towards the stage. An outstanding DTS surround audio track is included which provides excellent instrument separation and the perfect mix of audience participation in the rears to put you right at the show. It is a shame if you are only able to listen via the much weaker Dolby stereo track.

Evergrey are certainly an exceptional group of musicians. Frontman Tom S. Englund is a commanding figure on stage, and is one of the better metal singers in the business. His vocals are very reminiscent of Russell Allen, from the American prog-metal band Symphony X, as both are able to deliver haunting, emotional balladry as easy as they belt out the power metal roars. These guys knew that this wasn’t just any other show, and they played their collective hearts out this night. The addition of a trio of backing vocalists, as well as a string quartet during several of the songs, made these live performances particularly potent.

This is another extraordinary DVD package that has been published recently by the InsideOut music label. Along with their recent Enchant and Pain Of Salvation concert DVDs releases, the packaging here is quite impressive. A standard plastic double DVD case is housed inside a rugged cardboard sleeve that is emblazoned with album artwork and beautiful embossed lettering. Inside, there is a 28-page color booklet that includes tons of great photographs from the show, as well as a long article describing the planning involved with this project, which was originally published in Sweden Rock Magazine. Along with the two hour concert on disk one, also included is a second disk containing a staggering six and one half hours of bonus material that includes six music videos, behind-the-scenes footage, band member interviews, and archival material from the band’s early years.

With the likes of Opeth, The Flower Kings, Pain Of Salvation, and Everygrey all calling Sweden their home, I’d move there in a heartbeat, if I could, just for the kick-ass music scene. If you were unfamiliar with Evergrey prior to checking out this fantastic debut DVD, you will most likely end up a fan like myself. This DVD is highly recommended; especially to all you metal heads out there.

Set List
Blinded
End Of Your Days
More Than Ever
She Speaks To The Dead
Rulers Of The Mind
Blackened Dawn
Waking Up Blind
As I Lie Here Bleeding
Mislead
Mark Of The Triangle
When The Wall Go Down
Harmless Wishes
Essence Of Conviction
Solitude Within
Nosferatu
Recreation Day
For Every Tear that Falls
Touch Of Blessing
The Masterplan

Performance 8/10
Production 8/10

Read all of my DVD concert reviews at Roy’s Reviews

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One such site is here.

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