REVIEW: FOREVER STILL – “Breathe In Colours”
Perhaps one of the most exciting bands to come out of Copenhagen in recent times, bringing the rather poignant stench of thrilling fresh blood, Forever Still formed an inviolable bond with the metal community with their debut album, ‘Tied Down’. In addition to being embraced by their quickly established fan base, the Swiss metallers were also swept up to fill prestigious supporting slots to some of metals finest, with household names such as Children Of Bodom and Lacuna Coil taking the band under their wing. Now, Forever Still are back with their latest album ‘Breathe In Colours’. Even before its first spin, ‘Breathe In Colours’ captures interest on its thematic premise alone. And, musically, it turns out to be well worth the spin too.
With ‘Tied Down’, we find its protagonist struggling with feelings of worthlessness and self-doubt, and here we see her journey continue on ‘Breathe In Colours’. Yet if ‘Tied Down’ was an introspective account of a single person going through change, ‘Breathe In Colours’ offers a more extrospective look out on the world while reflecting on her own place in it. Inspired by dystopian, cyberpunk structures depicted in books and films such as Blade Runner and the Japanese animated, post-apocalyptic anime Akira, these influences inform the raw, electronic sound found on ‘Breathe In Colours’. Yet no matter how the music develops, the lyrics remain incredibly personal, centered around something richer than wallowing in sadness, highlighting the difference between being victimized and choosing victimhood. Lyrically everything is more focused on finding the hope and strength within to overcome whatever horrors the world may present you with, even if, musically, there are some distinctions.
An instantly recognizable difference can be found on the records first offering, “Rewind”. Vocalist Maja Shining creates an unconventional sounding main riff by tastefully incorporating a theremin into the piece. An electronic instrument controlled with great precision, and without physical contact by the thereminist (those familiar with movies like Hitchcock’s Spellbound may be familiar with its sound), the theremin layers an ethereal, supernatural sound over an otherwise conventionally heavy number.
The second of what are soon to be three singles, title track “Breathe In Colours” enters with a seemingly calm demeanor before unhooking the leash and releasing something far more unsparing. Shining digs deep as she produces a merciless vocal delivery in a pre-chorus that sets the benchmark for some of the bands heaviest material to date. Even if it does have a striking sonic resemblance to the relentless bridge found in Lacuna Coil’s “Blood, Tears, Dust”.
Since their 2013 EP ‘Breaking Free’, one of the bands strongest assets has been their ability to fuse traditional metal components married to harsh vocals and heavy guitars to create catchy hooks and memorable ballads. No easy feat, finding the right point on that particular pendulum. Yet tracks like the electrically charged “Fight” demonstrate that Forever Still have done their homework. A point hammered home once again in standout tracks such as “Pieces,” which sees bassist Mikkel Haastrup carrying the song through with a subtle but essential presence. Similarly, the instantly memorable “Say Your Goodbyes,” swaying smoothly between a simple, piano-based melody and an explosive chorus, depicts a formula often used by the band, but one that’s never overdone.
Many sophomore albums feel like an unnatural departure from the bands initial opening statement. While there are certain notable shifts to be found on “Breathe In Colours,” they feel more like the next step in the natural evolution of Forever Still. Comfortably familiar yet artistically brave, “Breathe In Colours” is embedded in the band’s roots, but not confined there, always looking for ways to grow and blossom. ‘Breathe In Colours’ does an outstanding job at retaining the same vulnerable spirit as its predecessor and never losing that integral, personal touch. Further enforcing the fact that this band is not just exciting for Denmark, but anywhere that heavy metal leaves its unmistakable fingerprint.