FOLLOW THE CIPHER
FOLLOW THE CIPHER
Nuclear Blast Records
Released: May 11, 2018
I just love it when studio / solo projects become full-flagged bands. It has happened with Delain, Sault, Phantom Elite and now, here we are with Follow the Cipher. Originally started in 2014 as Ken Kängström’s personal, small project, the band quickly became an entity in its own right, especially after singer Linda Toni Grahn joined the fold. According to the band’s bio, she stood out as an awesome vocalist and good person. After some changes, the current line-up is as follows: Linda Grahn on lead vocals, Ken Kängström and Viktor Carlsson on guitars, Jonas Asplind on bass, and Karl Löfgren on drums. And in May this year, they have released their self-titled debut album, via Nuclear Blast.
The band’s bio on their official Facebook page (link below) states that “Follow The Cipher represent a dirty, dry, rusty and lonesome environment in a devastated future, collapsed by a careless consequence of our past. This is presented through our graphical theme, stage show, our music and the lyrics within it.” In this context, the rebellion (The Cipher) is a force acting against the new world’s brutality and depression, reason why most of their songs are like war cries and battle chants, full of power and aggression.
Enter the Cipher
A Mind's Escape
Play with Fire
Marching on to the beat of the power metal drum, Follow the Cipher mixes epic melodies, classic rock riffing, electronic keyboard soundscapes, with elements of progressive and symphonic metal to fuel their melodic sound. And the singles “Carolus Rex” (Sabaton cover), “Winterfell”, and “Valkyira” are perfect example of the diversity the album has to offer. From start to finish “Follow the Cipher” is a relentless downpour of heavy guitar riffs, catchy melodies (try not so sing along to “I Revive”) and layered rhythms. What else can you expect from Sabaton-seasoned guitarist Ken Kängström?
But what really drew me to their music is the power of Linda’s vocals, and I would describe her voice as a mix between Floor Jansen and Alissa White-Gluz’s growling. Honestly, her vocal delivery
is one of the highlights of the album (case in point: “Titan’s Call” and “My Soldier”). Another highlight would be the balance of male / female vocals, simply because they don’t over-use it and
let Linda’s voice shine, but at times Viktor Carlsson joins in on key songs, doing both cleans and harsh vocals, and again I point out “Valkyria” here, as well as “I Revive”. Also, the guitar
work is brilliant throughout the album, but the solos on “Starlight” and “I Revive” stand out as really well executed. And speaking of the anthemic “Starlight”, this song is a sort of an
all-starts gathering, as it features Joakim Brodén (Sabaton), Nils Patrik Johanson (Astral doors), Johnny Lindkvist (Nocturnal rites) and Ronny Hemlin (Tad morose) sharing the vocals, with Linda
only doing the chorus. Coming back to the guitars, I love the way they sometimes blend and sometimes overlap with the keyboards, creating some interesting melodies and harmonies. The structure is
very well done, as the songs flow together neatly to create a high-energy, dynamic album.
All in all, Follow the Cipher have forged an excellent debut record, full to the brim with quality metal, and 80’s throwback (keyboard) moments, that will have you headbanging and singing along while practicing your air (broom) guitar.
So run away into the world of the Cipher.
Rating: 9 / 10
Linda Toni Grahn – Vocals
Ken Kängström – Guitar
Karl Löfgren – Drums
Viktor Carlsson – Guitar & Vocals
Jonas Asplind – Bass