According to press blurb, Belgian quartet Forever Still turned towards Philip K. Dick for lyrical inspiration for their new full-length platter. Basically, humanity’s escape into cyberspace from a dystopian world, with parallels forged between an imagined cyberpunk future and the state of the world we all currently live in. An interesting concept, that’s been backed up by a range of equally interesting material, where the darkened alt-rock-metal impetus of each track is delivered with a ton of energy and passion. ‘Breathe in Colours’ is captivating and invigorating stuff.
Firstly, the eye-catching cover art needs a few words. According to the press blurb I had through with this promo, frontwoman Maja Shining designed it herself and has provided an intriguing explanation for its essence: “At first glance the cover art appears quite dark and gloomy, but in reality it’s bursting with colour. Just like the real world - sometimes we just have to look really closely to actually see it. The many numbers behind me represent all the colours in the world in binary code.” I guess in the same way that black itself is composed of different colours, the ostensible bleakness of Shining’s art is far more subtle and encoded… literally, in zeros and ones. Love it! Befitting of both the binary world many people dwell in far too much, with their overly screen-staring existence; and the fact that too many people can only seem to think in binary terms - everything has to be either black or white, with little or no consideration for all the shades of grey in-between… a potentially infinite number of cognitive contemplations.
There’s nothing “binary” about Forever Still’s music; their songs provide an emotionally expansive experience in all kinds of ways. And, as with the cover art, it has hidden depths, different textures and bursting with all sorts of emotional profundity… which isn’t always that obvious. What is evident throughout, though, is the impassioned nature of the whole 35 minute listening experience. Notably, through Shining’s fiery, fervent and emotionally rousing vocal performance. There are some very nice inflections in her voice that set her performance apart from any kind of standard rock/metal delivery. And it's a wide-ranging voice where she's able to deliver moments of angelic beauty before switching to full-on aggressive mode with some seriously affective levels of in-your-face anger. And everything in-between. It's partly what makes 'Breath in Colours' such a nicely unpredictable listen, as the emotions the band convey - particularly Shining through her vocals - are both powerful and varied.
Instrumentations have been finely crafted to bring to life some fantastic compositions. The songwriting was a collaborative effort between Shining and fellow multi-instrumentalist Mikkel Haastrup - the former credited with piano, theremin and additional synths; and the latter with guitar, bass, synths and piano. And they’ve delivered refreshingly varied results. However, they do lapse into a kind of paradigmatic songwriting mode here and there, with some of the choruses tending towards bursts of 'safely' euphonic, melodic-driven refrains. In other words, songs don't always lead to as powerful of an emotional explosion as teased by the build-ups. 'Pieces' is a prime example of this, where the chorus feels anti-climactic. All that said, the refrains are still very nicely crafted, and provide a neat contrast to some of the varied rock/metal stylistics elsewhere within the songs. And there are some very nice grooves throughout, courtesy of Haastrup's down-tuned guitar and bass work, and sticksman Rune Frisch.
With a first-class production/mix for their emotionally varied, finely crafted set of compositions; some fine musicality; incredible vocals; all kinds of refreshing melodic twists and turns; and a whole heap of passion that shines through in each and every bar of music, ‘Breath in Colours’ provides an energising, captivating listen. Forever Still? More like “Forever Progressing”! This is great stuff.
BREATHE IN COLOURS
Review by Mark Holmes
29th March 2019
3) Breathe in Colours
4) Is It Gone?
6) Do Your Worst
8) Rising Over You
9) Say Your Goodbyes
10) Embrace The Tide
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:
"...the darkened alt-rock-metal impetus of each track is delivered with a ton of energy and passion. ‘Breathe in Colours’ is captivating and invigorating stuff."