When one thinks of the universe—especially in an attempt to define its vastness—it helps to think of it as the product of every action made—and every action not made—from the very first moment of its existence. Now, it’s been a couple years since my collegiate algebra classes, but a summation over an entire area (in this instance, let’s assume time’s linear progression to form an “area”) if referred to as an integral, and it is comprised of the sum of every individual value the area is made up of.
So how does this relate to Forevermore’s latest album of the same name? Well imagine a multitude of musical styles—from post-rock and progressive metal to hardcore and hard-hitting metalcore. Now imagine each of those present in equal values in a single sound—a comprehensive, mesmerizing display of heavy music stylings. What do you get? I don’t know for sure, but I would bet that it sounds an awful lot like Integral. A conceptually driven album that follows string theory (someone more well-versed in physics than I will have to explain that one), Integral is intense, energetic and immersive, sounding like someone put Northlane, Napoleon and 65DaysofStatic in a blender, dusted it with some Meshuggahand put it on high speed. Silky smooth and catchy while retaining plenty of punch and power, Forevermore’s latest album is one that will make even skeptics of progressive music listen twice before they reach a final judgement.
Integral, like its namesake mathematical concept would imply, is a sprawling album that starts subtly and ends the same—taking the listener on one hell of a between the opener “I” and closing number “Integral.” Percussionist Sammy Vaughn is simply dizzying—much as he has been throughout the band’s entire career—but this time his drumming seems much more focused. From the catchy opening groove to “Nascent,” Vaughn seems more aggressive than Forevermore’s previous offerings would have you think—this is especially true during the relatively straightforward and sinister head banging anthem “Overlord.” Just because Vaughn’s drumming is a bit more aggressive, however, does not mean he has lost his penchant for unusual time signatures and speedy, surreal fills. “Empath” shows these off in spades, as does the colorful and vivid track “Prism.” The latter especially highlights Vaughn working side-by-side with bassist Hayden Darnall to create a fluid, dynamic low end. Even when Vaughn’s fills take an unexpected twist or leap, Darnall remains his ghost, keeping his erratic kick drum anchored with a dense, groovy firmament. With Darnall and Vaughn working in dynamic synchrony, guitarists Michael Taylor and Jared Storm have an easy time dancing atop Forevermore’s solid low end—lighting up every song with enormous riffs and ludicrous, loopy leads that will have the listener’s head swimming. “Noumina” is an excellent example of this—as Taylor and Storm roam hither and to across their fretboard effortlessly (or at least they make it sound effortless). Meanwhile, “Overlord” is a grittier and more lurid display of the duo’s love of groovy heaviness—just as “Pandemica” is, albeit in a way that combines brutality and beauty in a way not similar from the better parts of Northlane’s Node. Together, Taylor and Storm are thunder and lightning, filling Integral with intensity and instrumental brilliance.
Where Forevermore stride the line dividing fury and ethereality with their fervent, energetic instrumentation, they do the same with their vocal approach. Frontman Kramer Lowe is the perfect accompaniment to the band’s instrumentation—where they are heavy and aggressive, Lowe’s screams are thick and lurid, sounding full and strong as if he were standing six inches away from the listener’s face. However, tracks like “Pandemica” where Forevermore oscillate between subtlety and sinister musicianship see Lowe ebbing and flowing win the the band’s figurative musical tide. His singing voice is crisp and clear, ringing beautifully throughout Integral’s wide open soundscape—dropping into bitter growls and fierce shrieks at the perfect times. Lead single “Order” also shows this off well—as Lowe spends much of his time singing, even though his screams still shake the earth when he finally lets them loose. Lowe provides vocal brilliance atop a heyday of musical bliss—making Integral a wonderful experience.
Perhaps Integral gains it’s name not from mathematical complexity and physical concepts (although if the shoe fits…), but instead from the fact that it is truly an integral album for enthusiasts of heavy music. To be blunt, if you enjoy any form of heavy music, you will find something to enjoy about Forevermore’s latest offering. While those with a proclivity towards prog metal and metalcore will likely find it most appealing, it still brings enough heaviness to attract enthusiasts of hardcore and raw, aggressive rock—while still playing to post-rock fans with blissful retreats like the ambient interlude “Ikigai.” Integral is diverse and engaging—wonderfully unique yet slightly familiar, making it a necessary addition to any collector’s repertoire that they will cherish forevermore.
For Fans Of: Northlane, Erra, Invent, Animate, Napoleon, Meshuggah
By: Connor Welsh