Forever Still – Tied Down
Release Date: January 15, 2016
After three years of releasing EPs and touring heavily throughout the Scandinavian provinces and other European cities, Denmark’s Forever Still have released their debut full-length effort, Tied Down. The album is fueled by the creative energies of vocalist Maja Shining (nee Schønning) and bassist/keyboardist Mikkel Haastrup. The tracks on Tied Up cull the works of the band’s Save Me and Scars EPs, as well as four new songs, including the stand out title track.
Sonically it is difficult to pinpoint Forever Still‘s sound: It is at once familiar yet original. One can catch elements of contemporary artists like Halestorm, Evanescence, Flyleaf, and even Bring Me the Horizon. Vocally, Shining has a unique style that radiates with the purity of Sharon den Adel but can also evoke the edgy grit of Otep Shamaya. On some tracks she sings with an ethereal quality similar to Amy Lee, while on others there are quirky nuances that recall Alanis Morrisette or Lacey Sturm.
The album opens with up with the angst-driven rocker, “Scars”. The guitars and bass roll and dance, while Maja utilizes various dimensions of her vocal repertoire. “Once Upon a Nightmare” echoes shades of Evanescence, with electronic textures and Haastrup’s bass reverberating just beneath the surface, carrying the melody along. The feel of this song carries over into the more emotive and haunting ballad, “Miss Madness”. The song begins with Haastrup’s cascading piano notes laying the path for Shining’s lilting voice which immediately brings a sense of melancholy and somber beauty.
The record’s next three tracks make up the Save Me EP. The first song, “Awaken the Fire” opens in a burst of staccato guitar notes from guitarist Dennis Post. This jumps into a rhythmically propulsive, high-energy romp. Shining’s voice takes on a bit of a Jan Arden vibe on the verses. This song was built for live performances. “Breathe In” has a industrial-alternative quality to it with Gothic undertones. Haastrap’s bass work stands out here, and as usual, Shining steals the show with her vocal versatility. Next up is the darkly, bittersweet poignancy of “Save Me” which resonates with a sense of anguish.
“Your Light” opens with a strong groove and is propelled forward by muscular riffing and a rumbling bass line. Shining’s voice soars confidently when the song swells, but also reveals the underlying vulnerability behind the lyrics. “Alone” and “Break the Glass” fit nicely into the continuity of the record’s accessible yet nebulous feel. The album closer is the title track, which moves from a grinding opening riff into a soaring verse and chorus. Shining manages to blend a fragile honesty with assured boldness.
Forever Still have delivered an album that, while sometimes dark, speaks to the ideals of hope, self-efficacy, and perseverance. Tied Down is an album filled with huge melodies, catchy rhythms, skilled performances, and powerful lyrics. The band is not reinventing the wheel, musically speaking, but they serve up accessible, radio-friendly songs with intellectual depth and a strong impression of genuine emotional connection. Repeated listens to Tied Down favor listeners to new layers and textures. Forever Still is a band on the rise, catch them early.