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During progressive rock's 1970s heyday, bands not only offered elaborate concept albums and extended works; there were also the singles. There were also the emotionally direct songs that went for hooks and immediacy -- for example, Pink Floyd's "Money," Kansas' "Carry on Wayward Son" and Yes' "Roundabout." And in the '80s, '90s and 2000s, that combination of elaborate songs on one hand and more emotionally direct songs on the other hand carried over to progressive metal. The material on Evergrey's Torn tends to go for directness and immediacy rather than being ultra-complicated or ultra-intellectual. Although the prog element is certainly present, this 2008 release isn't one of prog metal's cerebral, high-minded concept albums. Instead, the Swedish band -- whose 2008 lineup includes Tom S. Englund on lead vocals and guitar, Henrik Danhage on guitar, Michael Hakansson on bass, Rikard Zander on keyboards, and Jonas Ekdahl on drums -- brings plenty of ballsy metal bravado to hard-driving yet melodic offerings such as "In Confidence," "Nothing Is Erased," "When Kingdoms Fall," and "Fear." The songs are intricate and nuanced, but there is no denying the fact that Torn rocks aggressively and forcefully; in fact,Torn rocks harder than a lot of prog metal discs. Englund's vocals add to the intensity; he favors a gruff vocal style along the lines of David Coverdale and Bruce Dickenson, and his vocals are decidedly gritty. Torn isn't Evergrey's most ambitious album; nor is it their most essential. But all of the performances are focused and inspired, and Evergrey's emphasis on immediacy yields enjoyably accessible results on this 53-minute disc.

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