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Evergrey - The Inner Circle CD (album) cover

THE INNER CIRCLE

Evergrey

Progressive Metal


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5 stars Dream Theatre use to be my favorite band until they became robotic with the relase of their latest albumn. I was completly hooked on Dream Theatre since Images and Words, but since then, their music has continually lost it's heavy edge and emotion. Let's just say everything that I was missing in Dream Theatre, I have found in the current release of EVERGREY, The Inner Circle. This album has had chills running down my spine since I heard the first two samples EVERGREY posted on their website. This band is heavy yet not too heavy to where you can't understand their message. The vocals are perfectly suiting for this type of music and I love the addition of a female vocalist at times. The keyboard parts intertwined with the heavy rythms are perfect. Not since Kevin Moore's keyboard melodies has a badns keyboards sounded so good. The harmonized guitar riffs are so sweet, it will bring you back to the 80's era of Queensryche and Malmsteen. The Inner Circle has to be one of the best if not the best metal album ever recorded. EVERGREY, we bow down!
Report this review (#29318)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars If you are even reading this, then you MUST have already heard about Evergrey and just how great they are. As you would expect, Evergrey offers both the most emotional ballads and most earthshaking & powerful edge. This time around, after a fantastic bout in Recreation Day, the Swedish gods push their music further and not only improve the grammar in the lyrics, but add cohesion by making it thematic about "religious cults" and the influences/intricacies therein. BUY THIS ALBUM. If you do anything other than the aforementioned suggestion, you might as well consider yourself a nu-metal fan, as you have no grasp for metal at its finest. 10/10.
Report this review (#29316)
Posted Wednesday, April 28, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars All of the albums these guys have done contained excellent SONGWRITING and that is the key. Tom Englund has one of the best voices in rock,period. This is another excellent album from Evergrey. I have been a huge fan since the first time my ears were graced with In Seach of Truth. Their music has something so many other bands and artists lack.....EMOTION. If you are human , when you listen to Evergrey you will be moved by the powerful emotional energy that this band projects. I am glad to see other reviews posted here, as I was starting to think that too few other people felt the way I did about these guys. I salute those who have posted positve comments about this band, because you are people who appreciate divine music and your ears are tuned properly.
Report this review (#29317)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
CrossofHatere
5 stars I can't stop listening to this album. After every spin, I place it in its case, and try to forget it for the moment. Put in some grim black metal, or some happy galloping powermetal...but no. This record calls for me over and over again. Evergrey is the only band out of my 200 album collection that has such a strong emotional connection. The music is incredibly well written. Not just riffs cut and pasted, but intelligent and emotional. Every member reeks of musical competence, and that is the key. I don't know which I like better yet, the Inner Circle or In Search of Truth. Only time will tell I guess, because unlike Recreation Day and Solitude-Dominance-Tragedy which stick with you from the first spin, the Inner Circle and In Search of Truth take days upon days of constant listening to fully appreciate. The melodies, the heaviness, and the story...simply amazing. Tom Englund's best vocal performances are on this album...rock on guys, never die. \m/
Report this review (#29326)
Posted Thursday, April 29, 2004 | Review Permalink
semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars There are two kinds of people in this world. Evergrey Fans and those who have never heard them. If you are of the former group, don't worry The Inner Circle is another five star album in the string of five star albums. For the latter group, read on.

Sweden's Masters of Morose Metal are back again. The Inner Circle's is hot off the press and be assured, it's at least as good if not better than their best, which of course is better than anything else around. Evergrey's fifth album is another concept album. This time we hear the story of a impressionable member of an esoteric cult called The Inner Circle

Although I think this is a fantastic album, I don't really think the music is that much different from previous albums. It's still the same Evergrey sound even though the current lineup is entirely new from the second album, excepting the brilliant singer/guitarist/songwriter Tom Englund but I do think Evergrey has matured in it's approach to the music. The arrangements are now more complex and items that were only hinted at in previous releases are featured in The Inner Circle. Orchestration, background vocals and choirs, items that teased us in previous releases, are now integrally featured for a bigger more impressive sound.

I suppose comparisons to Queensryche and their fabulous 1988 album Operation Mincrime are inevitable. After all it is the standard to which all concept albums are measured and it too was about a cult.

So how does it compare? It's close, very close but I'm not going to judge. You be the judge!

Authors Note: I am so pleased to see Evergrey receiving so much love with all these five star reviews. Just goes to show you that the creamevenually does rise to the top.

Report this review (#29324)
Posted Wednesday, May 5, 2004 | Review Permalink
3 stars I agree with everyone that Evergrey can be listed among the (Prog/)Metal Gods we are blessed with on this earth. Their melodies are briljant and the guitar riffs are very cool. But this is the only Evergrey album that bores me after a while. To me 'In search of truth' is their best album followed by 'Recreation day'. I listen those albums often, unlike the Inner Circle. 'Waking up blind' is the worse song on this album, it is far too slow and boring. It is typical to Evergrey albums to include heavy songs as well as semi-acoustic songs which is very cool, think of the Trilogy of the Damned on the Recreation day-LTE. (this song appeared also seperated on S,D,T) Appearantly Englund and band thought they had to continue this tradition and wrote waking up blind. If only they hadn't, because they're not really good at it. If I want to listen to music that is less heavy I'll play mull muzzler from James Labrie or anything like that not Evergrey

The concept of this album is once again brilliant as is 'When the walls go down'.

Do not misunderstand me, I bought the album and I'm glad I did, but this isn't by far their best.

Report this review (#29319)
Posted Tuesday, May 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars Another masterpiece in Evergrey's career. Brilliant album with excellent songwriting, moving lyrics and a strong emotion in it. My fav songs are "A touch of blessing", "Ambassador" and "The essence of conviction", but the whole album is wonderful. EVERGREY RULES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Report this review (#29325)
Posted Thursday, May 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Clayreon
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It must have been a heavy mission for EVERGREY to match the previous album 'Recreation Day'. That one was nominated as best metal album of 2003 for the Swedish Grammy. If there is any band that claims the throne position of DREAM THEATER it has to be EVERGREY! "A Touch Of Blessing" opens with A PERFECT CIRCLE/TOOL alike intro, vocals are emotional and yet thoughtful. Later, a certain SAVATAGE atmosphere pops up, heavy riffs and melodic guitar parts; that's the recipe of this first song, in part familiar, in part progressive. 'Ambassador' is an extra-ordinary heavy track with a kind of METALLICA riff in the beginning, but keyboards, dark vocals and choirs give it an unconditional EVERGREY touch. In the middle of a proper heavy instrumentation we can hear a female soul vocalist in 'In the Wake of the Weary'. In 'Harmless Wishes' Tom S. Englund shows us his pant out voice, flanked by guitars and bombastic orchestration all over. I can't help thinking that EVERGREY sounds less Swedish than ever, the music is quiet sophisticated; a thesis that's confirmed by them touring with ICED EARTH in the States. We've also have some precative slows, soulful and cautiously enriched by a fragile (guitar) solo. Maybe a bit too smooth, that's why I talked about this American feeling.

The star of EVERGREY is rising however, and I can only applaud this when I take the energetic progressive metal of 'More Than Ever' and 'The Essence of Conviction' into consideration. Heavy and rigorous but with just enough accessible parts to get more worldwide success, and they deserve it! For EVERGREY still has that social awareness; just have a listen to the prompt deep-mouthed words of declamation in 'The Essence of Conviction', flowing smoothly into an unctuous (guitar) solo. This item can also be found in the slow 'Faith Restored' when acoustic guitars are accompanied by a proper excited Englund and all the grieves of the world are proclaimed. 'Where all Good Sleep' and 'When the Walls go down' are so full of inner rage that it almost becomes too delicate to listen to. In brief EVERGREY is a guarantee for excellent progressive metal with a distinct opinion while on the other hand the band leans towards the American market in his musical aspects. Yet this is so overwhelming that I'd like to say this is a superb release.

>>> Review by: Vera "Gothica" (9/10) <<<

Report this review (#29329)
Posted Friday, June 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars This album is simply amazing. There is so much emotion in their songs. I heard them for the first time in my life a couple of weeks ago, when they were supporting acts to Scorpions. They totally blew me away. Scorpions were no good, but Evergrey totally rocked. Their music is very emotional and their sound is powerful. I simply love them. Wednesday night, they´re performing live at Nalen, Stockholm. And now they´re headlining. I´m so gonna be there. Go Evergrey!!

Up the Irons!!

// Trooper

Report this review (#29330)
Posted Monday, September 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars EVERGREY is a band that improves tremendously with each album they record. "The Inner Circle" is their latest epic masterpiece. The lyrical content of this grand album centers on the control of people, focusing on religious rhetoric, which actually sounds like an evangelist straight from the TV set telling you that you will burn in hell and the devil wants you in his kingdom... blah, blah, blah. In between powerful sweeping metal music, the story unfolds and captures your imagination and awakens all of your senses, thoughts and ideas revolving around the church, religion and politics. It all seems to tie in together with the latest developments of the church in the courtrooms defending their sick child molesting men of the cloth, therefore making the word of God and church nothing but a mockery and a lie.

Tom Englund gives an outstanding performance vocally, living out the parts, making them real for the listener. He plays out the concept vocally to perfection, giving you the true feeling and emotion behind all of the power packed lyrics. It's like a real life situation that comes to life inside the music. Oh yes, the music! Does it ever rock! This band is on a roll now, recording some of the best metal available in the world today, without question. I like to call it progressive metal, but the term progressive seems to make people shy away, particularly those that are the true hardcore metal heads. I am actually referring more to the progression the band is making with each subsequent recording, not the traces of prog-rock within their sound (mostly the way the keyboards interplay with the guitar). Make no mistake about it though; this is heavy, dark and hard rockin' music.

EVERGREY's musicianship is clearly beyond reproach as Rikard Zander (keyboards), Michael Hakansson (bass), Jonas Ekdahl (drums), Tom S. Englund (vocals/guitars) and Henrik Danhage (guitars) are a high-energy group that attacks the music with unyielding passion. The dark and ominous atmosphere coupled with the political and spiritual aspects make you rethink life itself and why man lets religion and politics get in the way of our true nature. "The Inner Circle" gives you all of that cranked up a few notches on the decibel scale for maximum impact.

I have listened to this album countless times now and I can tell you it only gets better with each listen, it's that good, and no doubt one of the top metal albums of 2004.

Report this review (#29332)
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars "The inner circle" is the latest epic masterpiece by Swedish band EVERGREY. This band shows evidently and with every song their musical growth and their lyrical brilliance (Tom Englund). After the shocking work "Recreaqtion Day", a dark exploration through humanity, arrived the most frightening story Tom Englund's ever written: A tale about a person who's lost hope after the false expectations and rhetoric of religious leaders (in this case, a cult). From first to last track the listener can feel the experience, and that's the biggest acomplishment of this album.

Among the most unforgetable tracks we can appreciate stand out the heavy prog song "Ambassador", the next track "In the Wake of The Weary" (featuring great female vocals) and "The Essence of Conviction". But my recommendation is to llisten to it as a whole. It's BRILLIANT!!! Progressive Metal that doesn't sound like DREAM THEATER or FATES WARNING. We were waiting for something like this.

Report this review (#29333)
Posted Tuesday, February 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well, what do we have here... something that seems less on the outside, and so much more on the inside.

The second album of Evergrey I bought was this one, without thought. I could not listen to it properly, but at the time, it seemed like just an album that shouts out Christian propaganda. No offense.

Then I realized it was so much more, SO MUCH MORE than that.

Instrumentally (and in the essence of conviction);

Jonas Ekdahl disappointed me with this. Although in "When the Walls Come Down", there were pretty good partitions, the drums were quite simple in this album. Not very good. The guitar work threw me to amazement as always, and I was glad to see that Tom Englund did try some new things in this one. The atmosphere that the Gothanburg Symphony Orchestra added gives one a true feeling of closure when listening; it's not dark, but not light either, with sorrow and joy it sings. Especially some parts are very enchanting. But, the down side is, I haven't found what I wished to in the guitar solos. They were good, but not good ENOUGH. But that may be just me.

Lyrically (and as for waking up blind);

WOW. Just one word is enough. At first it does seem like it is a big shout out to their religion, including the passages from The Bible that are printed in the background of the lyrics, but there is much more to that. It was my stupidity to miss the name "The Inner Circle" and its significance. Basically, this concept is about someone (in the plural or singular sense) joining a cult of some kind, and witnessing the rituals and likewise they do in the name of God (which makes me think they are extremists of some kind), he regrets his choice, deeply, and returns to his old faith... or does he? "Faith Restored" shows the main character's desire to go back to his old ways and be released from the choking circle, but then he finds out something that reveals the essence of the concept; whether it is a God bound to a religion or a self-proclaimed one, not giving up faith in SOMETHING - ANYTHING AT ALL.

Well, that being said, its a suberb album with an amazing concept, somehow I find to be more amazing than Pain of Salvation's "BE". This album is a must-have.

Report this review (#46928)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2005 | Review Permalink
MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is an album which takes a little more time to settle than your usual prog metal album. It's about cults and how people get seduced by spiritual leaders and get drawn into something which they can't control anymore. In the liner notes the band even cautions the listener about the seriousness of the music ... and it really is quite intense and emotional.

Much of the intensity has to be credited to their singer, who does a tremendous job. The vocals are not for everyone though, they remind some people of 80s hair metal bands, which is a connection that I can't reproduce at all. Composition and musicianship is excellent throughout, as is the production and sound. I rate this album 4.5 stars, and it is heavily recommended to fans of Pain of Salvation or Riverside. Evergrey have a heavier sound than those bands though.

Report this review (#62010)
Posted Wednesday, December 28, 2005 | Review Permalink
2 stars Well, more of the same, nothing new, just an album with all the things that people buy, nothing to be proud. Just metal with a few things of prog - more speed than prog, it's just like any album of Stratovarius: the only idea is to sell it, no matter the quality of the sound, no matter how used are the ideas, no matter be it a copy (it remember me Microsoft!!!) I could give it 1 star, but, why should I do that if the album is not absoluty bad, it's only more than the same that you can find around the corner?
Report this review (#70593)
Posted Sunday, February 26, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Evergrey is the kind of band that, just listening to the extreme heaviness of the music without ever hearing lyrics, you might expect them to have a growling death metal vocalist. I, for one, am very grateful that this is not the case. All of Evergrey's albums are pretty similar in overall sound, even though the band's lineup has undergone several changes, most recently with a change of drummers. Jonas, the new guy, is pretty standard for metal drummers. He's good but not great, not quite as good as the last guy, Patrick was his name.

All of Evergrey's albums have a very distinctive sound within the prog metal landscape. The albums consist of mostly very heavy songs in a medium tempo, with backing keyboards (not very many solos, but at least good atmospheric stuff) and very emotional vocals. The latter is especially true in Evergrey's two concept pieces, including this album. The Inner Circle is probably my favorite Evergrey album, I just love the dark atmosphere, melodic solos, and the emotional vocals with great lyrics.

"A Touch of Blessing" is a great album opener that is really great at first listen, and that's kind of what album openers are for.

"Ambassador" is one of my least favorite songs on the album, the vocals are a little too harsh for me, but it's still a pretty good metal song.

"In the Wake of the Weary" is the type of song that I love Evergrey for creating. It has great vocal lines, including some really good female vocals from Tom's wife, and a killer solo.

"Harmless Wishes" is one of the defining songs of this album, it has all of the elements that make me love this album so much. The vocal lines are very emotional, and the topic that the lyrics cover realy demands that they be delivered in such a manner. The string quartet is used very well in this song, and is one of the best elements of the album.

"Waking up Blind" is the only song on the album that I really don't like that much. It's not that I can't handle a slow song now and then, but this one just isn't that great.

"More Than Ever" starts off really heavy with a headbanging type of riff; I've seen this song performed live on the DVD, and it's one of the best of the concert. The chorus is standard for this album: emotional with some killer female backing vocals; one of my favorites.

"The Essence of Conviction" is my favorite song on the album. It is also one of the more progressive and symphonic sounding songs on the album, it starts off in 12/8 with some really nice backing keyboards. The vocals are very emotional and really draw you in to the concept of the album, and the song's morbid topic... It's about the cult's leader sacrificing his own child to fulfill his insane religious visions. The guy that does the voice of the ambassador really does a great job of making you hate him when he says "We have to kill the baby!" It's really bonechilling stuff, and I love it.

"Where All Good Sleep" is another mid tempo song that makes me love this album even more. Although it's not an album highlight, it is not weak at all. Great song.

"Faith Restored" is another one of those slow acoustic songs, except that this one is GREAT! Is is definitely an album essential. The string quartet really makes this song what it is. The main menu of the DVD has this song playing in the background, but only the string quartet's part... I left it on the main page for like an hour just soaking in the greatness. More bands should use strings in their music, it really adds another dimension to songs such as this one.

The last song is an instrumental, "When the Walls Go Down." It really showcases the string quartet very well, and although it is instrumental, it does have some spoken word stuff from the ambassador... spooky. The album ends on a kind of awkward note... not that it's bad, but it really doesn't sound complete like other concept pieces do.

That's why I am not giving this album five stars. Evergrey have been pretty prolific for a prog-metal band, releasing 6 albums in the past 8 years, but none of the albums has been much longer than 50 minutes. I don't believe that Evergrey have released a masterpiece album yet, but they have come pretty close THREE times in a row. I am pretty dissappointed with the latest release, but I still have hopes that they will someday release their greatest work.

Report this review (#79153)
Posted Wednesday, May 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars DANG.......of all the albums i own i don't think i've ever own an album so dark and so bone chilling as The Inner Circle. I mean dude i own all the great albums like Opeth and Tool BUT NONE OF THEM could make me feel so i dunno spooked as this CD. I guess its the concept and the way the music is used to make this one of Evergrey's finest CDS ever. I meant his along with their last two albums they have made some power house records. Well the concept of this album is basically i think about a man who goes through being taken by a somewhat religious cult that basically ruins his life by making his own religion seem so violent that he has nothing left. Okay i think that's right if not then i dunno someone e-mail me the right concept and i'll edit it lol. but anyway other than that the music is really great as riffs are darker than ever, the vocals are melodic, dark, powerful, and almost demanding. Plus the effects used with Choir and String arrangements are as good as ever because what's Evergrey with a nice choir and strings. But each song really does display some awesome riffs and solo from songs like A Touch of Blessing, Ambassador, Wake of the Weary, More than Ever. But Evergrey also explores with a softer side with some nice relaxing acoustic numbers such as Waking up Blind (great solo by the way kinda floydish) and Faith Restored which i love even more. But the songs that really made me tremble down my spine was songs like The Essence of Conviction and When the Walls Break Down. I mean the effects of the baby crying and the angry man who seems to be yelling either at himself or God just really sent chills down my spine which really made me go Man when has that happen. As for the band they are all great but the only complaint i have is the rhythm section as Micheal well he's okay could be better and Jonas well he's not a bad metal drummer in fact he does a fine performance on this album but he isn't quite as great as Patrick did on the last couple of albums. But anyway this is definitely another nice addition to any prog collection i mean the concept is just great and spooky and dark. And just like the booklet says you definitely feel pretty strange after listening to the whole thing cause i sure do every time i listen to it.
Report this review (#82621)
Posted Tuesday, July 4, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars In my collection this is definitively among the best conceptual symfonic-metal albums. The story is intriguing and the addings of the voice recordings of the preacher (I think I've heard Englund say that they are real) brings in an eery fee to the story l that really helps to carry the story forward and also adds a bit of suspense.

The heavy songs are mixed with a couple of softer songs/ballads. T S Englund, beeing a really nice singer does however manage to bring these songs to life and the album does never feel boring.

It is an album that I would definitively recommend to all symfonic-metal fans out there. Or to put it like this, if I lost this record I would immediatly go out and buy a new copy.

4 star Swedish conceptual metal...

So why not a five star? Well, It's a bit to straight forward and I miss some "extras" and musical happenings. In short, I miss the element of surprise and curiosity. Much like with the Marillion "Brave" album. It is perfect all the way, but never surprising.

But something tells me that in due time I will give 5 stars to an Evergrey album.

Report this review (#85387)
Posted Tuesday, August 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars When I first heard this group I didn't really know what to think of, I thought it kind of dark and annoying but insteresting all the same. The more I listened the more I picked up the better qualities till the groups quality finally clicked. Evergrey has a unique style and a very dark mood, but talent and masterful art all the same. At first the only song I was obsessed over was A Touch of Blessing, which was really really good. The rest was okay, but something to not die over, till I actually LISTENED to the album. I don't know what the heck my problem was, but when I finally realized this groups abilities I fell in love with the music. In fact, it's one of my favorite albums to listen to when I'm in a dark mood or just for plain old Evergrey. Everysong is good, Ambassador is probably the only that didn't appeal as much, but I still like the song all the same. This is the only Evergrey I've heard, and I know for certain I'm going to look into their other albums as well. The Inner Circle is a good album to start with and has plenty of show for talent, prog, and just great metal all in one. These guys have the emotion and the power with thier album! And they sound great live too, if you had the bonus live tracks with the album. In anyway this is by far an incredible album and is something you prog metal fans should get into, it's pure metal baby! And it's usually something to play when someone obsesses over mormon tabernacle choir, but hey! if you like the hard stuff or want something different for prog, then listen to these guys! Evergrey The Inner Circle.... 5/5 it's a prog metal masterpiece!
Report this review (#94864)
Posted Tuesday, October 17, 2006 | Review Permalink
1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Evergrey had a lot to live up to after their last album, the wonderful Recreation Day. Tom S. Englund and Co. responded with their greatest work to date. The Inner Circle follows the story of a man who is lured into a cult and is soon disillusioned by the rituals and extremism of its members. Lyrically, this is a great concept album that is on par with the songwriting on The Human Equation and Operation Mindcrime. Musically, however, it isn't very strong.

The drums are predicatble and add nothing to the music. Jonas did very little that stood out from the band. The guitar rythms are impeccable, but the solos are a bit bland. Tom's vocals are the most important instrument on this album, as they move the story as much as the rythm guitars do. The orchestration, however, really redeems the lackluster performances with some of the best arrangements I've heard on a metal album.

Touch of Blessing, Harmless Wishes, Essence of Conviction, and the closing instrumental When the Walls Go Down are the highlights of the album. They all feature great vocals (except of course the instrumental) and the best musicianship on the disc. There are not any truly weak songs on the album, but the non-highlights all have weak moments.

This is Evergrey's best album lyrically, but it's straightforward sound can be a bit off- putting to proggies. The album is truly haunting and, as the liner notes say, you will not feel happy after you listen to it. The story is never uplifting; this is truly morose metal at its finest. If you are like me and enjoy the dark things in life, this album is perfect for you.

Grade: B

Report this review (#106661)
Posted Monday, January 8, 2007 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The band deals with the subject of people who are in cults or religious groups who feel they are part of "The Inner Circle". Thus they give these powerful, deceptive leaders their money, time and themselves as they fall under their influence. One major complaint I have with such a serious subject are the pictures in the liner notes of the band partying, and doing what I feel are inappropriate things for the concept they present. Now if this was a live record or if they were dealing with a frivilous subject then I don't really care what pictures they present. It just doesn't seem right to me to be so dramatic and emotional about this and have so many samples of these "evil" religious men ranting, and then to have pictures of the band all loaded up and acting stupid.

"A Touch Of Blessings" builds to pounding drums and aggressive vocals.The guitar solos are tasteful and incredible especially around 4 minutes with background synths."Ambassador" has lots of beautiful guitar solos and angy,passionate vocals."In The Wake Of The Weary" features more drumming that I find annoying and some female vocals. "Harmless Wishes" has some orchestration and choir and the vocals go from being reserved to intense. Nice solo 3 minutes in.

"Waking Up Blind" is a mellow song about breaking free from the inner circle. "More Than Ever" is a heavy tune with riffs to open."The Essence Of Conviction" is a fairly intricate song with a monologue. "Where All Good Sleep" features riffs and keys as vocals come in with some layered backing vocals. "Faith Restored" is a mellow, emotional song. "When The Walls Come Down" is an instrumental with lots of religious ranting. The song actually builds right to the end which is cool.

This is way down in my list of favourite Metal albums, there is no question this is good and I love the guitar solos on this record but it's not essential by any means.

Report this review (#113065)
Posted Wednesday, February 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars

This is a kind of conceptual album dealing mainly with themes like religion. What is remarkable here is Englund's voice which is very powerful. If you like power-melodic progressive metal than this album is for you. What is also to be remarked is the first song which is a really good opening song. Nevertheless I found this release somehow predictable which is maybe a minus and indicates a 3.5 stars rating (except maybe the last song When The Walls Go Down which is really a good song to finish an album like this). My favorite song is: The Essence Of Conviction but in general all songs are at an high level, so no really weak points.

Report this review (#123998)
Posted Wednesday, May 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars when i listen to a new album,to give my opinion,is good to listen the album four times in a week..the memory of the sounds start to make sense in that time in the mind...four times and you can make a opinion from the album...ok..This album is good,is metal,is energetic,what is great..this albums rocks..the vocal lines are very mellow and with a good work on that...the cuality of the production of the album is very great..the sound of the drums are very powerfulls...the keyborads sections works perfectly with the changes in the vocal lines....reminds something like simphony x but with a dark way..sometimes...i will talk about the songs that i think that are the better ones...

ok,in my opinion these are the greats songs on this album...

a touch of blessing....nice intro,so mellow with acoustic guitars parts.and a voice so mistery..and the whole song is very dinamic..

harmless wishes...good riff on the electric guitar and in the middle of the song the nice piano section with an excelent vocals,,good chorus,as well..

waking up blind..what a perfect song..a ballad that involves you in a world of love and lies...a men who needs undesrtand the moves that he makes..perfect song...i think that if the whole society listen to this song,they will be crazy and fall in love quickly..

when the walls go down...a history... a song... a passage...a poetic thing..perfect...listen to the words...allways in the veins of the creators...

Good album

KEEP ON THE GOOD WORK...

Report this review (#127135)
Posted Friday, June 29, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Another outstanding release from the black-haired Swedes, with a sound that continues the band's forward thinking song-writing and playing, this time using the absurdity (and tragic reality) of cults as a theme for their dark textures and unrelenting riffing. "Inner Circle" is a step in the right direction, at least from a progressive standpoint, because it features several new elements to the band's already stellar sound: appropriate voice-overs, improved playing from the rhythm section, and quality ballads, all sandwiched between their usual staple of excellent metal.

"Inner Circle" is conceptually more sound than Evergrey's prior releases as well, and utilizes a strong narrative to tell its story, blending Englund's always great vocals with some eerie voice-overs. All in all, this is Evergrey's most disturbing album yet, and the difficult themes are presented in a mature-- gut-wrenching manner... great stuff! As a side note after reading through the liner- notes, I have greatly increased appreciation for the unapologetic statements of Englund (who, euphemistically, doesn't appear to care for religion).

Solid metal which will please new comers and fans alike.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

Report this review (#127654)
Posted Thursday, July 5, 2007 | Review Permalink
The Crow
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Excellent album... Not really progressive, but a good act of power metal with some complex passages.

If you are searching for a band in the vein of Dream Theater of Symphony X, you are in the wrong way here... This is the only Evergrey's album I've heard, and maybe their previous albums were more progressive... And although this album is far from the true progressive metal, I must hear more music from this people. Because "The Inner Circle" is excellent... The dark vein they give to their power metal makes it very personal, with the help of the powerful and sensitive voice of Tom S. Englund, a great songwriter and singer.

It's also difficult to choose a song here... The album can be heared in its integrity without any problem. In The Wake of the Weary, A Touch of Blessing, Harmless Wishes, More than Ever, Faith Restored... This album is plenty of good tracks. Maybe the concept isn't too clear, it's a little dim, not too well developed... But that's not very important. The quality of the music makes you forget the weak idea of the concept...

Conclusion: if you like dark metal in the vein of Pain of Salvation or Wolverine, but more power oriented and not so progressive... This is your album. It really deserves a good listening.

My rating: ***1/2

Report this review (#146944)
Posted Thursday, October 25, 2007 | Review Permalink
UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Well it just gets worse and worse. With the Inner Circle Evergrey almost complete the transformation from a good prog/ Metal band with great thrashy riffs to a simple heavy metal band.

I´m really trying not to turn this one off, as I am bored out of my mind. It´s not bad, but it really is boring and repetitive. Where did all those great riffs go ? When did Tom S. Englund grow so mature that he got to be this sensitive ? I really urge you to listen to Solitude + Dominance + Tragedy and In Search of Truth instead of this. The only song I kind of remember is Ambassador which has a great memorable riff which reminds me of Solitude + Dominance + Tragedy. There are a few other places on the album that Evergrey play some acceptable riffs, but it´s so seldom that I don´t even remember where.

The production is again in the organic style metal, which I find uninspiring.

I won´t say anything more, as you can clearly sense my disapointment with this band.

Report this review (#153202)
Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 | Review Permalink
progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I'm afraid I have to admit this is one of those albums you like almost immediately after you get to know it but after some time and about 20 spins you have heard the best of it. That period was about 2 years ago, it was a period in which I bought 6 of their albums and on top of that even a DVD. After working them all through I was really into Evergrey and considered them one of the best in prog metal. I think they actually still are of course but it's like having read the book and then that's it.

Point is I still have to do all of the reviews so I play them all over again and see what is left of the good feeling there once was. I think this album is my favourite of all, it had a pretty big impact on me two years ago so it can't be bad. I will do a "song by song with short comment" kind of review:

1. A Touch of Blessing. Great song with interesting build up in the beginning. One of my fav's. 3,75*

2. Ambassador. Another classic for the fans which was evident on the DVD. 3,5*

3. In the Wake of the Weary. Good song with nice orchestral contribution. 3,5*

4. Harmless Wishes. Average song compared to the others. 3,25*

5. Waking up Blind. One of the 2 ballads of the album. The lesser of the two. 3,0*

6. More than ever. One of those great live rockers. 3,5*

7. The Essence of Conviction. A long one for their standard with variation. 3,75*

8. Where all Good sleep. Anothe more average track though still nice. 3,5*

9. Faith Restored. The better ballad of the two. 3,5*

10. When the walls go down. Best song for last. Impressive and original though not everyone's fav I think. 4,0*

So that's a narrow escape for the 4 stars. It would have been an easy 4 star case 2 years ago, no doubt.

Report this review (#163877)
Posted Friday, March 14, 2008 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Evergrey play it safe on their 5th album. The Inner Circle brings a polished version of their trademark dark melodic power metal. The overindulgent bombast of the preceding Recreation Day is tuned down a bit, but not enough to recreate the pure agony of their masterpieces Solitude Dominance Tragedy and In Search Of Truth.

The main problem is with the songwriting which is far from consistent. While taking a tremendous start with A Touch of Blessing and Ambassador, the remainder of the album is anonymous and faceless at best, but rather annoying at other times. The Essence of Conviction and Where All Good Sleep are cheap FM-tunes, over-arranged with symphonic keyboards and hallow metal pathos. The closing track When The Walls Go Down gets a bit exciting near the end but it's not enough.

The Inner Circle is a mostly average album with 2 outstanding tracks and 2 very weak ones. Hardly 3 stars.

Report this review (#276745)
Posted Wednesday, April 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Fifth release in shoer amount of time, I guess in only 6-7 years since they formed, The inner circle from 2004 is another worthy album from their catalogue, but as I said before not an album reaches the beauty of In search for truth. From previous album Recreation day they become more and more a power metal band with prog metal leanings not vice versa as they were on first 3 albums, and this is their last solid album, after this they quite forgert to writte great prog metal music, at least for my ears. The inner circle has some very catchy dark gloomy arrangements, solid musicianship and some ok vocal parts. Ambassador is a killer piece where they still shine, great riffs and solos, another worthy one is The Essence Of Conviction, the rest are more or less good towards great, but nothing is special here. I prefere thier first phase when they were more prog metal and less power metal, still enjoyble for sure. 3 stars maybe rounded in places with 3.5 stars.
Report this review (#949994)
Posted Friday, April 26, 2013 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Evergrey are one of those bands who do their level best to defy comparisons with others. They are more to the metal end of the prog metal genre than their contemporaries, and the result is a type of music that is extremely loud and heavy while maintaining the melody and invention of the genre. When they decide that they are going to crank it up and belt it out there are few bands that stay the pace ? listen to sections of some of their songs and without the keyboards it could almost be Machine Head. This is a concept album, and to get across the themes singer Tom S. Englund uses different vocal styles, differentiating the characters.

This is an extremely intense album, one that has to be played loud and proud ? this is not a subject matter or music that can be pushed into the background. The concept is about religion and what fanatics can do with it. The t-shirts for the tour are apparently going to say "I am my own God, God walking". There is something here for every rock fan, whatever your particular genre, as long as you like your music heavy. There is room for contrasts, light and shade, but the power of the album is always there in your face. This has to be one of the best albums from Sweden, ever.

Originally appeared in Feedback #79, June 2004

Report this review (#1092121)
Posted Thursday, December 19, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars The Inner Circle concludes (almost) everyone's favorite trilogy of Evergrey classic albums (In Search of Truth, Recreation Day). I've always thought that Englund's confessional, gruff style vocals and concepts about alien abduction and doomsday cults (predominantly American cultural phenomena) gave Evergrey a certain American feel. That's why the integration of power metal and gospel-like sounds was a good idea. In the Wake of the Weary is a great example of this, while A Touch of Blessing is a candidate for a mid-paced anthem of the year. The rest of the songs get less consistent (always a problem with Evergrey). After that band simplified their sound and entered a period of personnel turmoil and tanked with critics and fans, as evidenced by a drop in their ratings here on PA. However, I think that altering the style was a logical step, since Evergrey gave us three good albums and formula started to wear a little thin.
Report this review (#1293835)
Posted Saturday, October 18, 2014 | Review Permalink
Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the slightly shaky Recreation Day, Evergrey firmed up their sound again with The Inner Circle. Once again it's a concept album, this time based around the thin line between conventional religious practices and cultish manipulation, and how sects which theologically try to wall off their followers from the outside world can create an environment in which all sorts of abuses can take place.

The idea offers some obvious thematic connections with In Search of Truth - in the sense that both concepts revolve around conspiracies that cover for abusive actions, although where the former is fantastical and unlikely, the latter is unfortunately an all too real phenomenon, as illustrated by incidents like the conviction of Warren Jeffs. Likewise, whereas In Search of Truth had spoken word bits from the point of view of an abductee, here we have various spoken word extracts from the sermons of various religious leaders, some of whom seem overcome with grief.

So, structurally then what we are dealing with is an album which feels a lot like a sequel to In Search of Truth, and musically we're in the same general area too. On the whole, I think it's no embarrassment to its predecessor, and is certainly a better followup than Recreation Day, but I don't think it's quite on the same level - say, about a half-star difference between them.

Report this review (#1644919)
Posted Saturday, November 19, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Put your sad faces on, this is not going to be pretty. Evergrey's 2004 release, 'The Inner Circle', is a concept album that focuses on themes of religion and abuse. Sounds pleasant, right? It's a very dark and gritty record, that pulls no punches as it tackles some deeply disturbing subject matter.

One of the things I like about Evergrey is their ability to be insanely heavy and brutal, yet maintain a sense of melody in their music. A heavy focus on strings gives this album a gothic feel, which suits the dark nature of the lyrics. And the production packs one hell of a punch, giving the heavy songs the balls they need and the softer songs the essence of melancholy and dreariness.

I told you, this won't be pretty.

The musicianship is top notch here, disregarding the common misconception that every progressive metal album involves endless solos and self-indulgent musical passages, 'The Inner Circle' focuses on atmosphere, with all guitar and keyboard solos being suited to the music perfectly. This is evident in songs such as 'Ambassador', 'The Essence of Conviction', 'A Touch of Blessing' and 'Harmless Wishes'.

This is arguably one of the most depressive albums you'll ever hear, but for all that gloom and doom, there is also some compelling, well-written music, which makes 'The Inner Circle' a worthy addition to your metal collection.

Now, cheer up, mate!

Report this review (#1780142)
Posted Friday, September 8, 2017 | Review Permalink

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