Shear - Breaking the Stillness (Lifeforce Records)
By: Matt Coe
[8.5/10] Due to the finite nature of our physical time on this earth, it shouldn’t be surprising that many musicians wish to extend their talent and creativity into as many bands/project outlets as possible. There was a time when record labels would worry about the lack of complete focus causing a less-than-adequate outcome for the main band, but the current market demands (and personal economics) dictate a more diverse selection for the consumers who wish to follow every move their favorite players make.
Take the Finnish-female fronted metal sextet Shear. The drummer Juhana Karlsson plays in Amoral and Tornado, bassist Eerik Purdon spent a year with Omnium Gatherum, and all five main musicians spent most of the 2000’s on their own power metal band called Crystal Blaze. Starting in 2008, Shear released one previous EP In Solitude, a year later and have been spending the better part of the past two years writing and refining newer songs for this 10-song debut.
Musically, Breaking the Stillness straddles the line between heavier power metal with occasional nods to the gothic and melodic death scenes. Guitarists Lauri Koskenniemi and Mikael Gronroos have this synergy that navigates between thunderous, jaw-dropping riff structures and then beautiful transitions, encapsulating the best of high-class axe skills on instant appealers like the Evergrey machine-gun attacking “In Solitude,” “Redemption Awaits” and the Mercenary-like “No Way Out.” Bassist Purdon gains a quick, fluid front and center piece on “Someone’s Else’s Eyes” before settling back into a comfortable, exotic power groove.
The star of the show for most will be vocalist Alexa Leroux. She’s not merely a pop leaning singer dressing up in metal overalls - she has the larynx strength and lungs to hit those killer, bluesy high notes while traversing up and down the conventional notation scale. Her best work includes the closing verses of the aforementioned “Someone’s Else’s Eyes” as well as the rhythmically progressive closer “Be Here Now” which contains some diverse keyboard effects and sequences from Lari Sorvo to tantalize those eardrums.
We will be hearing more from this Scandinavian group for years to come. Catchy and heavy all in one package, Shear impact due to their unyielding commitment for their music.