Oh boy…now this album is one tough mother. Back in 2012 when Shear released their debut album “Breaking the Stillness” I was already then convinced about their potential. They received quite flattering reviews on their debut album and why not, it was a solid album but in all fairness, not as solid as their latest effort “Katharsis” is. Sometimes it takes a while for an album to start opening but “Katharsis” was wide open like the legs of a prostitute from the first note on. Now some might think ok this is not good cause albums like that usually tends to wear out fast. I must say I thought so too. But the more I listen the more I get into the album. It’s almost like it turns into a different album. “Katharsis” is an easy album to listen. But there are so many small nuances in the album that it’s like peeling an onion, on each time you discover a new layer.
“Katharsis” starts with an intro titled…surprise surprise…Katharsis. Now I usually don’t like intros cause to me those are a waste of time. Save those intros to live gigs to lift the atmoshpere amongst the audience while the band is climbing on stage. But there was a nuance on the intro that reminded me of some acoustic stuff from King Diamond. And King has always been my favourite so how could I not like the intro.
Next up, Last Warning, quite up tempo with some cool shredding guitars in the beginning. Very early on on the album you can notice how much the vocalist Alexa Lerouxhas evolved during these past few years. At times she reminds me of the original Lullacry vocalist Tanya Kemppainen. Alexa’s, just like Tanya’s voice has roughness and amazing softness which is quite rare. Her vocal range allows her to sound like a beast when needed but also like an angel when needed. And all these varieties are used on “Katharsis” album.
Third song Home. I’ve always been a fan of drummer Juhana Karlsson (Amoral) and you can hear some nice technical stuff from him on this song. In general the song has a lot of tempo changes, beautiful chorus, nice guitar solo. As I have grown older I have started respecting solos more where it’s not a speed constest but instead it’s something that adds something to the song itself.
Next up Heaven into Hell. If possible, on this album keyboards take even more role than on their debut album but it’s more like an icing on a cake than just “let’s use keyboards since we have a keyboardist”-thing. Heaven into Hell is pretty easy listening stuff. Nothing too fancy about it but nothing negative pops up either during the song. Perhaps one of the songs that might wear out the easiest.
Hollow, Black & Cold is the next one. I would call this a ballad. It’s not a slow tempo hearttearing song about losing your loved one or anything like that but it’s simply beautiful. Complete single and radiomaterial. Well I guess they thought it too cause it was the song they released as a full song teaser and I will release it for you guys at the end of this review as well.
I care starts acoustically and one might expect a very low tempo song but picks up a bit towards the chorus. If I would have to choose the weakest song on this album it would be this. But in “Katharsis” standards even the weakest song on the album isn’t bad.
A Hopeless Tragedy starts with very strong bass lines. Silver Ots is the latest arrival to the Shear family and with Juhana they both build up a very strong rhytm section. Could it be cause they both used to play in Amoral as well? Well Juhana still does. I really like the guitar riffs on this song. Very intense. This song also has a very melodic and beatiful chorus. None of the songs are like eating the same crackers all over again. There are constant changes even inside single songs and that’s what makes this album so special, at least to me.
Whipers Follow You introduces the guest appearance of Stratovarius keyboardist Jens Johansson. Well if you have followed his career at all you would recognize him from the solo easily. He just has that unique sound which is almost like a trademark he has developed over years. Some might think it’s boring to always hear the same sounds but hey, who am I to judge? It sounds good and Jens is a worldclass keyboardist. Song itself it’s a bit above mid tempo again with a very nice chorus. Just can’t get over Alexa’s voice, it’s simply awesome.
For The Restless delivers some of the fastest tempo’s on the album. But then again there are like tiny songs inside each song, it’s like grandma driving a car jumping on the break, accelerating again, jumping on the break…just when you think the song gets fast, the tempo drops, Again…not a bad thing at all. Keeps a listener on their toes cause you don’t know what’s coming next. Pure genious.
Then the climax…the last 2 songs on the album. Not Myself and Turmoil. Those 2 songs are absolute diamonds. Especially Not Myself. Maybe it was just the melodies and the lyrics but that particular song touched me very deeply. I think there are many people out there who have screwed up or have been screwed up in their lives or relationships and this song probably affects at least some of them.
It’s pure art to be able to write a ballad that speaks to it’s listener and not making the song too cheezy. And that is exactly what’s Not Myself is all about. My humble bow goes to your direction, you nailed it.
“Katharsis” ends with the song Turmoil. Yet again awesome chorus. Somehow hope of a better future raises from the song. Might just be my sick mind but that’s the beauty of a listener, we are all able to make our own assumptions from the songs. I believe there are as many meanings to songs as there are listeners. And then of course the original meaning of the composer.