Forever Still - Tied Down
You want to get a spine-tingling adventure?
More importantly a concentrated power of melancholic aggressive gothic rock?
Perfect. Then check out the track-by-track review about the newcomer band of 2016 FOREVER STILL with their album "Tied Down”.
Who is Forever still?
Forever still is mainly a rock band with gothic influences formed in Copenhagen, Denmark by Maja Schønning and Mikkel Haastrup.
Their music career starts back in 2013 with their release of their debut EP "Breaking Free". After a Scandinavian tour, they returned to the studio in 2014 to record the first of three EP's that at last were added up to a full-length concept album named "Tied Down".
The album is about a suppressed individual fighting against depression, anxiety and about finding a way back to life.
They have gained a lot more recognition in Europe and bring new life into the music world with a lot of fresh energy coming along with an unpredictable but pure, thoughtful but also raw, edgy and serious vibe.
What is the album about?
With their album "Tied Down" (with a full length of 34:27min. and published on the 15th of January 2016), consisting of the EP's "Scars"(2013) and "Save Me" (2014) and four additional songs, they are able to give an insight into a world which is shadowed by inferiority complexes, depression, scars, lies, oppression and a lot more. How can I get rid of it and what is the meaning of life? This special issue is more relevant than ever before in today's "pressing society”.
The mixture of fragility and an aggressive form of expression, expressed by an emotional but at the same time powerful, pure, fragile and also rough and aggressive voice, paired with heavy and driving beats and guitar riffs is implemented musically quite well.
To get a short overview about what to expect of the album, here is a track- by- track review:
1. Right from the beginning the album comes along with a fulminant Opener named "Scars". Simply breathtaking wicked that blows you away! Moreover, it is one of the heaviest songs from the album.
The song stands out by its heaviness, explosions - both musically and vocally - expressed simultaneously by the heavy guitars and "threshing", shelling drums and because of the breathy, but also scathing and aggressive screams alongside clean singing.
The scratchy guitars at the beginning of the song do not only match perfectly to the topic of the song and to its name "Scars", but also running through the song like an intense storm and therefore give the song the feeling of vulnerability next to the screams of Maja.
To sum up, the song does not only have an incredible recognition factor, but also leaves a lasting emotional impression.
2. "Once Upon a Nightmare":
Through a melancholic, slow and atmospheric solo vocal part the song is initiated by Maja.
At this time, she is singing with a noticeable deep voice. Her words for instance “(...) So sick of trying to get rid of you (...)” or “(...) and now I will find you (...)” grabs and pulls the audience into the song. The energy flow is continued with constituting edgy, chugging guitar riffs and drums, however they seem to be quieter and in the background, behind the vocals. After a brief instrumental interlude follows the first verse. Her voice seems clearly having priority in the song and will be accompanied by pounding beats and electronic elements until it ends up in a merge of all musical elements in the chorus. This pattern, consisting of alternating tempo decrease / interruption of music to focus on the verses and lyrics, up to resuming the tempo and getting together all musical instruments and tools will be repeated (including the beginning of the song) four times and makes the song catchier and more accessible.
The hook here is, for example, the recurring and catchy text line “(...) They tore me down like the storm shall break the trees (...)”. Her desperate vocals in the bridge (slower part) amplifies the feeling of pain after that a guitar solo emerges. Although it is in the background, it catches the ear of the audience nonetheless.
The above-explained pattern is something that you will remember next to the catchy phrases and her voice. Sometimes, it feels that she puts a lot of pressure behind her voice, but it never feels gimmicky or wrong and that is important. It rather is the hallmark of the vocalist and gives the song its authenticity and haunting part. Generally, it creates a real and unpolished vibe. Also mentionable is that not only her voice, the lyrics and the sound are original, but also their videos they made.
3. The next song "Miss Madness" has also an authentic lyric video. This sounding ballad song begins with an epic piano introduction. Besides, it is underpinned with a sound of a breathing apparatus.
This time her voice is high, soft, beautiful and fits well to the gentle piano playing in the background during the verses and feels like a unity and creates a "melancholic" harmony.
As in the previous song, the lyrical bridge (hardly recognizable) here in my opinion “(...) never die (...)” is followed by a guitar solo after the chorus.
Overall, a melancholic but passionate song with an optimistic touch, caused by the harmonic piano parts and the catchy lyrics, for example "(…) I bid you all goodbye and start to fly (…)" or "(…) I win the fight (…)" that also tending to remind me of an older Delain song.
4. The next song named "Awake the fire" stands out clearly from all of the other songs. It directly starts with full musical range, fast pace (dynamics), fully opened volume and a huge strength. The catchy, steady, electro beats are accompanied by heavy guitar riffs and supporting the vocals and are united very well in the song. Next to the outstanding danceable groove, it is the fantastic deep voice in the verses that lingers in the memory. Nevertheless, after listening to the song, I got a strange association because the catchy melody reminds me a bit of the song "Heaven Hell" of the band "Tezaura", although the song is considerably less heavier and faster. Overall, the song almost awakened an anthem-like , lively and combative character which is a great change.
5. The recognizable factor in the song "Breath in" forms the clearly highlighted electronic beats, her breathy singing style with subsequent aggressive screams. Her breathy and screamy singing style varies with clean singing and alludes to her wide spectrum. For me the song feels like a whole deep long breath. Before you can give the song a serious consideration it is already over. The song does not have a noticeable climax (if you do not count the screams at the end), but in this song and context it is not needed anyway. The song shines through the multifaceted use of her voice.
6. For describing ”Save me” you do not need a lot of words. It is a melancholic, fragile much slower song with awesome melodies. The introductory tone comes from rain, a soothing piano playing and clear melodies, creating a special emotional and touching atmosphere and feeling. In the end, you can hear sirens which give the song a kind of bitter taste.
7."Your light": After a short introduction to the similar noises from a horror movie, which creates a mystical kind of menacing atmosphere, the music directly thunders in full force around the corner with guitars, tearing, strong drums, intense rhythm and flowing synths. The chorus is very catchy and phrases like "(…) Far behind your smiles(...)” or “(...) find your way in time (...)” will get stuck in your head, but also reminds me a little bit of the chorus in the song "Scars". Nevertheless, the song does not lose its significance. The depressing but at the same time powerful mood (how a spirit of optimism) is created by using major and minor tones and because of the steady energy flow of both guitars. Worthy to mention is also the short instrumental part after a third of the song and the pace keeps on decreasing from 2.50 min. to offer more variety and to create a larger margin.
8. Chords of the keyboard (minor tones), dull, deep guitars give the song “Alone” its compelling melody and are the salient features. Concise to hear is also the measure, especially at the end of the song by using a special emphasis on particular words like "(…) Don't say (...)”. Well used are also the short backing vocals and speaking vocals.
9. Of course I have noticed the synthesizer in the other songs as well, I think that especially in the song "Break the glass" they come along very precise and clearly. Everything blends in and is flowing into each other. The ending is abrupt and I think it would have been better if the piano had played a few more chords, but that is a matter of taste.
10. The ultimate last song "Tied Down" – also the title song of the album – is at the same time stormy and gentle. It starts with a short instrumental part, consisting of raucous guitars and driving drums after it leads to the excellent angelic vocal part. Beautiful are the clear, long lasting tones in “(…) Can’t sleep (…)” or “(…) Can’t breathe (…)” which are repeated in the song and giving it a slight shiver. The short bridge part and the consequent increase in pace, the repetition of the words "(…) Tied Down (...)” and also the backing vocals are well-used. Together, it forms a fitting end for the song, but also for the whole album.
Now, is it a successful debut album, yes or no?
My answer is a big YES!
Although, it will remember one or the other of bands like Flyleaf, Evanescence or whatever it is a brutally honest, fresh, modern and powerful album with simple, original, clean arrangements and an accessible sound. The characteristics of the band are, on the one hand their quality and force of expression (lyrics, melody) and on the other hand to be natural, passionate, but also raw and edgy at the same time. With this authenticity they can call themselves with no trouble an "in-your-face" band. Besides, they are 100% independent, including artwork, videos, booking etc. In general, you do not need much ingredients, simply be unpolished, touching, thoughtful at the same time and on point. Together with the use of Maja's remarkable and versatile voice, humming loud beats, drums, heavy driving guitars and fantastic piano parts it literally breaks the mould.
I really hope she retains her different singing styles because that is something, especially in this genre that can differentiate and emphasize you from other bands and also is highly appreciated and recommended.
To get more information about the band check out their official facebook page or homepage. There, you also can check out older songs such as the phenomenal really catchy, electronic song “Key”, the heavy haunting song “The last day” or the softer, calmer and emotional song “Towards the edge”.
Please check also our interview with the singer
>> MAJA SHINING <<