The impact that former musicians had on music is profound and has led to the current evolution of the sound we hear today. One of the more impactful ideologies is the concept album, which originates from the legendary Frank Sinatra. Beginning in the 1940’s, he sequenced songs so that the lyrics created a flow from track to track giving off an impression of a narrative to listeners. This became an important aspect in rock and metal music as it emerged in the 60’s and 70’s, before fading off in the 80’s. With the onset of streaming and the ability to pick and choose songs, the concept album has made a triumphant return in the 2010’s as bands have a desire to create more unified, singular narrative or theme driven records and once again, take listeners on a journey. Having a desire to create a new narrative in their music, Christian metalcore outfit Forevermore set out to create their next record as a concept album, covering Spiral Dynamics; the theory that we see a progression of thought and conceptual complexity that can be broken down into a series of distinct phases. With that in mind, the result is their latest record Integral, which takes listeners on a sophisticated journey of human development and its search to understand itself.
Contained within the overarching concept of Spiral Dynamics, each stage is assigned an arbitrary color and each song on the record then applies to one of those colors, with each color being seen on the album cover. As the albums opener, “I” isn’t assigned to one of these colors, but serves a purpose with its atmosphere and tone setting synth-y, paranormal-esque vibe. The first full song, “Nascent” presents the records first stage and correlates to the color beige, representing the ideologies of the survivalist from birth to death. “Noumina” is purple, which gives our character the recognition that safety and community are needed, while “Overlord” is red and draws out the desire for power and control. Continuing on sees the importance of order and stability through the song “Order” and its blue aura, then the desire for opportunity and success with the orange-glowing “Enterprise”. “Empath” is appropriate in title and color (green) as it shows the character what love and harmony can provide followed by “Prism” (yellow) and it’s showcase of independence and self-worth. The remaining two tracks, “Pandemica” (turquoise) represents the need for life force and global consciousness while “Integral” (aubergine) ends the characters journey with the idea that they are in control.
Integral. Out Now. iTunes: smarturl.it/ForevermoreiTunes Forevermore Podcast Episode 1 / Listen Now: http://bit.ly/29GDR3s LYRICS & CONCEPT BREAKDOWN: http://www.forevermoreband.com/purple
With such a strong overarching concept in tow, the record still needs to stand strong musically and in that realm, it does not disappoint. Forevermore have adapted each track instrumentally to the corresponding message and color, nailing every aspect of what a progressive metalcore band is expected to offer its listeners. Starting at the foundation, percussionist Sammy Vaughn displays a more focused and renewed energy with an aggressive, yet intricate display on the kit with uncanny time signatures and skillful fills. Bassist Hayden Darnall keeps pace with the drumming as the two ultimately become synchronized throughout the record no matter what is thrown at them. On the guitar end, Michael Taylor and Jared Storm throw down insane riffs almost effortlessly, causing listeners to ultimately get lost in the music as it they balance the intensity with harmonious guitar melodies. The musicality as a whole on Integral is truly special as it switches back and forth between formidable and soothing on the fly.
Creating a concept album is no easy task as it requires a much more detailed scope; from the overarching message hidden away in the lyrics to the blending of those same words into instrumentation that fits the message. At the same time, it can’t take away from the band and create an unrecognizable sound, otherwise it’s not doing either facets justice. Forevermore clearly had a plan in place when they created Integral as it is not only a wonderfully created concept record, but still contains the core sound they’ve become known for. This is a record that can appeal to a multitude of people as it offers listeners a balance of raw aggressiveness and melodic blissfulness, making it not only varied, but unique and captivating showing why they deserve to be listed at the top of the genre.