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Album Review: A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)

Artist: Evergrey
Album: A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament)
Label: Napalm Records
Release Date: 20th May 2022
Reviewer: Belinda Mann

Evergrey are a band who have been around for over 25 years. A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) due for release 20 May is their thirteenth studio album celebrating their many years of metal mastery. Known as Sweden’s progressive power metal icons, their new 10 track album is a magnificent listening experience.

Here is what the band had to say about the new album.

 “Here it is! A new album! Yet again! This is what we love about music, it never ends! Our mission is to write music so here you are! 10 new songs! 10 new Evergrey songs that we hope you will have by your side as your life continues to shift and grow. 10 songs that we wish will be part of the soundtrack when you’re creating new memories, new possibilities in your life. 10 songs that we feel privileged to have you listen to. 10 songs that have risen through the ashes of two years where our creativity has had more time than ever to flourish. 10 songs we really hope you will enjoy as much as we did writing them. As usual we have given it our best and we can’t wait to hear what you have to say! A new year, a new album, a new record label = new possibilities. All this can only be positive, right? Enjoy!” ~ Tom, Jonas, Rikard & Henrik.

The pounding opener titled Save Us kicks right into it and is a great introduction for the album. Being the first release single from the album, the stunning guitar work on this track is immediately evident. If you listen carefully, you can hear the voices of hundreds of fans who were invited by the band to send recordings of their voices to later provide group vocals for the track. It’s easily one of the best choruses, full stop, Save Us grabs your attention straight away. 

I cannot speak highly enough of the pure emotive quality of the lyrics on this album and how effectively they are able to convey emotion, giving listeners many chills down the spine moments. Evergrey’s music is just pure entertainment, pure genius, pure magic.  Songs like Midwinter Calls, which also contains fan participation with atmospheric audience recordings and The Great Unwashed draw the listener in with scintillating instrumentation.  

The keys in the introduction to Call Out The Dark sound very similar to a music box, a truly surreal and unique experience in the context of it being a metal album. It begins atmospherically, coaxes you in, before transitioning into an intense powerful metal tune. 

The longest song, The Orphean Testament, impresses by being the album’s heaviest track. Front man Tom Englund sounds properly angry in the opening stages of the song with his vocal hooks hitting you when you least expect it. This track has one of the tastiest riffs before settling into a deep chorus. The album ends with emotive Wildfires that turns the volume down as a goosebump-worthy ballad that hurts and heals all at once. 

Wandering the realms of progressive and heavy melodic metal, this album is impressive, flawless with meticulous production that depicts heartfelt honesty. Overall, A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) has something for all Evergrey fans. Whether it’s the melodic metal or the addictive emotional ballad, the incredible instrumentals there isn’t a bad track on this album.

A Heartless Portrait (The Orphean Testament) track listing:
Save Us
Midwinter Calls
Call Out The Dark
The Orphean Testament
The Great Unwashed

Tom S. Englund / vocals, guitars

Henrik Danhage / guitars

Rikard Zander / keys

Jonas Ekdahl / drums

Johan Niemann / bass

Hear2Zen Magazine
Hear2Zen is a "Non Genre Specific" publication that celebrates all things sensory.

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