Artist: Forever Still
Album: Tied Down
Label: Nuclear Blast
Who are Forever Still, you may be asking yourselves. This Danish duo came onto our radar after we were poking around to find out who Nuclear Blast was showing interest in these days, so for you newcomers, the band consists of Maja Shining (vocals) and Mikkel Haastrup (instruments), and at this point we can say that you’ll hear a lot of influence from a ton of bands you like in their music. Their debut is concept album about, “the journey of an individual being held down by their depression before a spark of hope appears and recovery starts setting in,” [Maja Shining, 3rd album trailer], a concept that many people will surely relate to and even find comfort in.
“Scars” is a strong, hard-hitting introduction to the album that puts all of their strengths on display, from Maja’s gentle vocals, hard rock strength, and full on growling screams, to the comprehensive way in which they put their songs together. “Once Upon a Time” brings me back to a time when Evanescence was considered a decent band, only I can take this song far more seriously than most of Evanescence’s music. They seem to have noticed what worked for Evanescence and what was worth leaving behind. I love the powerful build-ups in this track, the hefty lyrics, as well the strong chorus. There’s also a hint of Karmacode -era Lacuna Coil (2006) in here as well, which I’m all for.
Check out the video for “Scars” here:
I dig the keyboard intro to “Miss Madness,” even if it isn’t a groundbreaking riff. This song has a very distinct early Charlotte Wessels feel in the vocals, and I feel as though Maja is going to be a vocalist to keep an eye on. We’ve no shortage of cute female singers these days, but we are still missing singers who can cover a range of styles at all, let alone covering so many styles already on three tracks. This song has a familiar groove that’s a little more hard rock than original Delain, which I find quite pleasing. With the slower overall beat to the song, it’s a decent single, but I might’ve personally chosen a more energetic track that sounds a bit less like other bands to share before the offical release, though with “Scars” also out, this can be forgiven.
Check out the music video here:
“Awake the Fire” has a fairly different vocal sound from “Miss Madness” and may have worked well as a single. “Breathe In” gets going with a very impressive shout that I’d love to see if Maja can replicate live, then mellows into some casual rock with some nice bass lines and decent riffing that mix well together, along with a strong chorus that would make for some good singalongs. We also get some more of that hardcore growling that’s helping my affection for this band grow. “I just breathe in and… SCREAM!” Love that. This song is surprisingly short, at under 3 minutes, though it doesn’t feel as short as it is when you listen to it. I’m not sure how familiar anyone is with a band called Nemesea from the Netherlands, but I get a bit of a feel of their sound in a few of these songs as well.
“Save Me” is the token slow-down at track six, and in spite of some solid build-ups, manages to keep a rather mellow pace throughout. I could use a little less hard rock guitars and a bit more beauty in this track to bring out its full potential, but there’s nothing offensive to the ear in here. “Your Light” is a casual pick-up after the slower track, but doesn’t go full-power back into things, rather taking it easy and building things up to a chill but upbeat chorus. Not something that would get a crowd jumping around, but definitely something that’d get you swaying in front of the stage.
The muted vocals in “Alone” are a nice change to the start of the song, and this feels like a darker path than some of the other songs, bringing out those lyrics about anxiety, helplessness, and depression and making them stand out and hit harder. I really enjoy the intro to “Break the Glass” and immediately this song reminds me of a nice blend of older Lacuna Coil with a hint of Evanescence again. This is one of my favorite tracks from the album, with it’s nice musical progressions and somewhat nostalgic feeling. The album closes up shop with the reasonably heavy-starting title track, “Tied Down,” which has relaxed hard rock pacing and feels like a nice conclusion to the whole album.
Overall, Tied Down feels like a strong combination of a lot of things that I’ve already heard. While I can’t say the sound is strictly original and thus might say that their promotional material is a tad overstated, I do feel as though these guys have figured out what to pick out from certain bands, such as the aforementioned Evanescence, Lacuna Coil, Nemesea, and Delain, and managed to make a good blend out of it. The music is solid and emotional across the board without experimenting too much, and steers more to the hard rock crowds rather than the straight-up metal, preferring rock riffs to metal melodies, but this nevertheless makes for an appealing debut album. If I have one complaint, it’s simply the generic song titles – there are very few songs on this list that don’t share a name with about a hundred other songs. In a moment of total irony, I had decided “Once Upon a Nightmare” was the only original-sounding name, only to learn a week or two ago that Epica’s latest album also has a song with, I kid you not, the exact same name. However, Maja Shining’s diverse vocals alone make this a band that I’m interested in hearing more from in the future, and I’d like to see how this music translates to the stage. Even more than that, once their debut is out and they’ve toured it sufficiently, I’m really curious to see where their sophomore effort takes them! I’ll be waiting!
Score: 7.5/10, four stars.
2. Once Upon a Nightmare
3. Miss Madness
4. Awake the Fire
5. Breathe in
6. Save Me
7. Your Light
9. Break the Glass
10. Tied Down
Text: Amy Wiseman