REVIEW: FOLLOW THE CIPHER – “Follow The Cipher”
With something that is as tried and tested as Power Metal, one has to wonder how a genre progresses over the years. We’ve seen a modern take on other genres like Progressive Metal, Thrash Metal to name a few. It becomes a bit tricky with modern Power Metal, especially so when you’re coming from a place where you don’t really have a good grasp on the sound.
I decided to dive into this record without any preconceived notions because I wanted to take something away from the listening experience. Follow The Cipher are a Swedish Power Metal outfit from the city of Falun. A good point of reference would be Sabaton for those curious about how they sound.
Their debut self-titled effort opens with “Enter the Cipher” setting up a cinematic stage with some orchestration that leads into solid riffs. The first thing that grabs your attention is the keyboard sounds although they don’t have a keyboard player so they must use samples. The album-opener was decent but doesn’t suck you into the record as dramatically as the “Valkyria” does. It’s got some neat hooks and a sing-along chorus, which is a staple of the Power Metal genre.
“My Soldier” continues weird keyboard sounds and takes a bit of a departure from high-tempo approach and reminds me a lot of the post-nu metal bands from the 2000s. “Winterfall” harks back to the melodies of 80s hair-metal bands. “Titan’s Call” is a pretty standard arena-rock anthem. Linda Toni Grahn’s vocal chops are on full display here.
“The Rising” marks the half-way point to the record and happens to be one of the singles from this record. I personally enjoyed the chorus way more than the verses but it’s a pretty solid track. Kudos to drummer Karl Löfgren for keeping the rhythm section tight. “A Mind’s Escape” is a slow track but heavier than lead. “Play with Fire” reminded me a lot of Blind Guardian and I think it’s by far the most theatrical and dramatic song off the record.
“Starlight” is another track that stood out for me. It basically offers you a djent take on how a power-metal song would sound. It was a bit different and interesting and I don’t see many artists trying new things out so boldly. The album ends with “Carolus Rex” which raises the drama to fever pitch although it gets a bit repetitive at times.
In my opinion, this is an excellent debut record and a good path forward for Power Metal in 2018. The production is slick, the riffs are thick and the compositions are catchy and emotive. The blending of synth-inspired sounds and letting them have their own identity in the song so something that kept me engaged. I’d be on the lookout for more stuff from this band.