With six years and a Kickstarter campaign lingering between album releases, Still Remains had a lot to live up to with their latest effort Ceasing To Breathe. Returning from the grips of between-album hiatuses is a task that’s typically associated with falling short of expectations. But in this case, the exact opposite could be said. With the best production you’ll hear all year, massive breakdowns, the perfect touch of electronics and clean vocals to praise — no, worship — prepare yourself to dive into a world of post hardcore excellence.
You’re introduced to Ceasing To Breathe by “Bare Your Teeth”, a song with the intensity of a massacre, and a guitar that feels like a pounding hailstorm. Its clean vocals manage to maintain the same velocity held by the heaviest aspects shown, and you’ll leave the track with a good feel of what’s to come in the following eleven.
“Crone” displays another shade of Still Remain’s palette, with a rock-tinged guitar that leads into a radio ready rager that was meant for chart domination. A track today’s music needs, it intertwines a modern electronic edge in all the right places, and the angry clean to brutal screaming progression brought by vocalist T.J. Miller takes it to heights never thought possible.
A healthy dose of clean vocals and heavy guitar work fill the song that is “Beacon”. Next, you’ll arrive on the doorstep of “Cain”. It fades in, and again shows a rock like quality, this one bringing to mind Breaking Benjamin. While you’re wondering what a pure rock Still Remains album would sound like (we’re guessing entirely epic) the vicious track takes you through a roller coaster of different vocal styles and ways of conveying emotion.
Our first glimpse of Ceasing To Breathe was our “Single Of The Year” 2013, “Close To The Grave”. The murderous metal and unrelenting nature is still as addicting as it was when we first heard it. “A Way Out” doesn’t stray from the path set by “Close To The Grave”, while “Keep Secrets”, with its awesome drum entrance and gang vocals, sounds like its true home is on a stage at the Vans Warped Tour.
When approaching a title track, you’re always a bit curious to find out why this song was so important. “Ceasing To Breathe” is this album’s most left-field track, starting things off with a purely punk intro and a calmer — but not by any means calm — vibe. It’s a fun listen, and boasts many interesting elements that put it a step ahead of the rest.
“F.F.I.” stays the course of “Ceasing”’s preceding songs, before turning into “Hopeless”. Without giving you a single second, the track starts in. A comparison to Of Mice & Men could easily be made, and at some point you’re positive that the guitarists must be in pain.
“Reprise” can only be described as the beginning of a revolution. Its loud, tremendous sound is paired with skillfully used production tools, and the spoken words “She will not face you” strike you with a force you couldn’t have been expecting.