"I wrote this thing that sounded like a mix of W.A.S.P. and Youth Gone Wild by Skid Row": prog metal veterans Evergrey are looking on the bright side of life for new album Theories Of Emptiness

(Image credit: Patric Ullaeus)

Over the past decade, Evergrey have had a creative resurgence. After nearly falling apart following 2011’s Glorious Collision album, the Swedes regrouped, refocused and began perhaps the most industrious stage of their lengthy career. 

Currently putting the finishing touches to their fourth album in just five years, they’re also juggling numerous side- and solo projects, with singer/guitarist Tom S. Englund alone having put out two albums (with Redemption and Silent Skies) in 2023. Hammer caught up with the frontman to find out why coming back to Evergrey always feels so special. 

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How’s the new album shaping up? 

“Really well. We decided we wanted to try out a new mixing engineer for this album and had our minds set on Adam ‘Nolly’ Getgood [Periphery]. Myself and Jonas [Ekdahl, drums] are still producing, but we wanted to get him in from the start and help set the sound. We had just purchased an old studio that we had started to refurbish, so he came out and lived in a little cottage in Sweden. We’d hang and have barbecues at night and set sounds during the day.” 

Did having your own studio make a difference? 

"“For now we’re just calling it Evergrey HQ, but it used to be Bohus Sound Recording. ABBA have worked there and a lot of old-school rock bands. It’s a classic place in that sense, which added to the vibe and the idea that we wanted it to sound very organic. There are no samples, nothing is sound replaced, and we play everything all the way through. Today anybody can sound like a machine, but we wanted to do this one more old school.”

Fans submitted vocal parts for the track One Heart. How did it turn out? 

“That idea was a collaboration with a Swedish rock magazine. In the beginning I didn’t feel like I could make something out of it without making it really corny, but I started thinking about what it was that actually brings us together and makes us feel that belonging. I wrote this thing that in my head sounded like a mix of W.A.S.P. and Youth Gone Wild by Skid Row. It had gang vocals and it turned out really well.” 

You said in a fan Q&A that the new album has a ‘fresher’ feel. What do you mean by that? 

“Every band says, ‘Oh it’s the darkest, the heaviest, the coolest thing we’ve ever made.’ What are we going to say on our 14th album? Ha ha ha! I think it’s an album that’s going to bring you through the light and the darkness. It’s very diverse in that respect and maybe a bit lighter, to be honest. On this album, Johan [Niemann, bass] wrote most of the basic foundations for all of the songs, which gave us a blank sheet in a sense, because we never started that way before. 

It was always me and Jonas writing, and then people contributing to what we had done. This time Johan gave us 400 song ideas to work with! We bought him a computer and a music programmer last year and now that’s all he does. The lazy bastard, he should have done that 20 years ago!” 

Your lyrics seem to have become less depressive over the years. Is this also a lighter album in that respect? 

“I’m in a different place in my life. Those things that I’d been through that affected my lyrics are always going to be there, but they’re a bit more distant now. I’m writing from the perspective that I’m telling you, no matter what you think now, that there is a way out.” 

With all the members’ projects, do you have to carve out time for Evergrey and run it like a military operation? 

“Yes, but I work better that way. We just celebrated 30 years, and going through demos from 1993 and old photos, it’s mind-boggling to still be able to do this. I’m extremely excited every time to go in and make a new album and I feel like I can do this for another 30 years.”

Evergrey's new album Theories Of Emptiness is due June 7 via Napalm. Evergrey play Bloodstock in August.

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer