Evergrey The Inner Circle

Most prog metal just sends me scurrying away these days, but Sweden’s Evergrey have always had something special about them. Maybe it’s the fact that their albums tend to clock in at under an hour (under 50 minutes this time), and nothing gets too laborious or, well, geeky. Instead they have a sound that brings to mind later Nevermore or mid-era Queensrÿche (yeah, I’m not a geek, really). It’s classy, it’s thoughtful, it’s got some heavy mid-tempo crunch mixed in with the melodies and singing — and of course it’s some kind of concept album about the evils of religion or something. Like everyone else, I’m still trying to figure out Operation: Mindcrime (there’s a Dr. X, that much I know), so the plot remains irrelevant for now; what matters is that once again Evergrey have brought some class into metal, combining heavy sounds with elegance and skill to create songs that actually make sense in some sort of human context, unlike many of their peers. Essential for prog types, and even highly recommended for metalheads not obsessed with inverse paradiddle rhythms and whatnot. (Inside Out)