Album Review :
Still Remains - Ceasing to Breathe

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Band: Still Remains
Album: Ceasing to Breathe
Label: Unsigned
Release: 12.17.13
Reviewer: Brody B
Tracklisting:

  1. Bare Your Teeth
  2. Crone
  3. Beacon
  4. Cain
  5. Closer to the Grave
  6. A Way Out
  7. Keeping Secrets
  8. Ceasing to Breathe
  9. F.F.I.
  10. Hopeless
  11. Reprise
  12. Bitter Shroud Repentance

There is always a large uncertainty surrounding the announcement of a band regrouping after several years of absence. I typically find even more to worry about when the band comes from a heavier background.

Thoughts of, “Maybe the band went softer now that they’re older and more mature…” unconsciously run through my head as I eagerly await the new material. Occasionally even the horrifying thought that perhaps the band has just “lost” what made them special and enjoyable before the split will make their way into my mind.

If you have not yet listened to “Ceasing to Breathe”, the newest effort from the band after six years, just know that not one of these fears will be realized as you hit the play button and Bare Your Teeth comes roaring through the speakers. Instantly becoming a new favorite in my Still Remains catalogue, Bare Your Teeth capitalizes on everything that makes the band so memorable. Groove laden guitar riffs and battering drum beats along with Tj Miller’s (As menacing as ever) screams and the subtle, yet effective keys of Zach Roth create a beautiful soundscape that may bring a tear to any metalhead’s eyes.

The same aspects that make Bare Your Teeth a great track carry over to Crone, a personal favorite on the record. The chorus, sang by the ever talented Mike Church, will be stuck in the listener’s head for days. Roth’s keys truly stand out on Crone, but not in a bad way. They are able to add a whole other layer to the music that most bands are not able to accomplish. For instance, during the breakdown where Miller shouts, “Sound the Alarm!”, Roth is able to mimic a prison sounding alarm on his keys that really adds to the depth of what would normally just be a brutal breakdown.

Still Remains wear their influences on their sleeves with Beacon. The track is one of the most melodically focused on the record with huge sounding choruses that are drenched in keys and melodic guitars. Beacon is a nice combination of the band’s previous two albums packaged into one song.

Closer to the Grave is possibly the heaviest track Still Remains has released to date. From the opening notes, the song shreds and unrelentingly never lets up. Aj Barrette absolutely kills the skins with various drumming rhythms. The guitarists, Mike Church and Jordan Whelan, have their work cut out for them as well as they weave between viciously speedy leads and heavy chugs. Tj Miller also shows off his prowess as he flawlessly transcends high and low screaming to create some great variation.

Another standout song is Ceasing the Breathe, the title track. After a short intro that sounds an awful lot like White Walls off “Of Loves and Lunacy”, the song dives into some of the heaviest use of keyboard on the album for the duration of the track. Once again though, the keyboard is never overwhelming, but used to add more depth to the track.

Bitter Shroud Repentance is a great closer to the album. The track starts out much like many of the others on the album, thrashy and technical. However, as the song progresses, it begins to gain a more sombre feel. Miller screams, “God of my father / Immerse me in Your spirit / I fall to my knees / Here I lay for You”. This song is a great example of the dexterity of the musicians in the band as they are able to continually switch back and forth between more mellow sections, centered on atmosphere, and the heavier sections we are all accustomed to.

Overall: Still Remains are back, and what I would say better than ever. Sure they’re all grown up now, but I think that tends to add a more polished and complete sound to the band. While they don’t bring anything new to the table for the genre, they are able to convince listeners that they are the best at what they do and they have come to take back the throne in the melodic metal scene.

RIYL: Haste the Day | As I Lay Dying | In flames

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