Rating:
8.3
Shear - Breaking The Stillness
22 February 2012


01. The Awakening
02. In Solitude
03. Scorched
04. Someone Else's Eyes
05. Wounded
06. Redemption Awaits
07. Stillness
08. Crowned By Fools
09. No Way Out
10. Be Here Now


Do you get the feeling that you're tired of power metal? It's not that I don't enjoy it anymore, but I just keep going back to the ones released a few years back instead of the new ones. Seems like this is a case of the latest not being the greatest… If you share similar sentiments as me, then Shear's Breaking The Stillness could be the remedy you've been seeking.

Female fronted power metal bands are more prevalent compared to a few years ago, so that takes away some of the novelty factor, but that's still fine because Alexa handles the vocal duties in a very convincing manner. One could be forgiven for expecting more symphonic leanings in the music upon hearing the band has a front woman in a power metal outfit. Instead, it's evident from the first track that we are in front of a quality power metal release without all the generic symphonic pompety-pom that seems common in a lot of power metal albums these days, because the rock-style vocals of Alexa just smacks you right in the face that sometimes reminds me of Shadowside's Dani Nolden. I can imagine some of the softer vocal lines could be grating for some, though that hardly comes across as a major criticism since it adds variety and dynamics.

More importantly is that the rest of the band is equally competent if not more so, especially on the song writing front. As opposed to being stuck in some sub-genre creative rut, Shear comes up with - at least to these ears - riffs, leads, melodies and vocal hooks that are less conventional with a modern edge. Sure, they still have that decidedly Finnish sound and it's within the paradigms of power metal, but it comes across so much better than all those rehashed ideas of the more established acts in the sub-genre. This becomes more pronounced as the keyboards kick in, as they aren't here just for some vague "atmosphere". For the lack of a better description, I would say the keys make me feel like I'm listening to some OST of a snowboarding game. The same electronic melodic tendencies, the expansive feeling that you're meant to get when snowboarding plus some sense of urgency - I just keep coming back for it!

The songs do start to get a bit tedious towards the end, with perhaps the well of creativity drying up and the pace being slowed down, hence the final rating not being any higher. However, this should be a compelling package for melodic metal fans, and it truly is among the top débuts of 2012.

Performance: 8
Songwriting: 8
Originality: 8
Production: 8


Band profile: Shear
Album: Breaking The Stillness


 



Written on 03.10.2012 by
Ag Fox
Ag Fox loves listening to music but is far from being a prolific writer. This corner just shows how territorial he is.
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Susan - 03.10.2012 at 18:04  
Great review; you sum this up exactly. It's an amazing debut but leaves them room for growth. It does feel a little long near the end but not in a way that tarnishes your memory of the record.

There is a slight poppy element to it that WORKS somehow really well instead of making it cheesy. It was a great way to kick off this year in power metal.
Ag Fox - 03.10.2012 at 18:17  
Written by Susan on 03.10.2012 at 18:04

Great review; you sum this up exactly. It's an amazing debut but leaves them room for growth. It does feel a little long near the end but not in a way that tarnishes your memory of the record.

There is a slight poppy element to it that WORKS somehow really well instead of making it cheesy. It was a great way to kick off this year in power metal.
oh yes... forgotten to mention I didn't really detect any cheese elements in this record )=
PocketMetal - 03.10.2012 at 21:14  
I will check it out for sure , if only for the female vocals .
blackend - 04.10.2012 at 17:41  
As a power metal enthusiast, this album is pretty boring.
Sir Thrashalot - 04.10.2012 at 23:57  
Written by blackend on 04.10.2012 at 17:41

As a power metal enthusiast, this album is pretty boring.


As you say, as a LONG time power metal lover, this album doesn't bring anything new to the genre in my opinion. Singer is good, not great, riffs are a bit predictable, nothing on this album made me go "Whoa, that's a great part!".

Just platonic, usual Power Metal. I must admit that for a new and upcoming fan to the genre, i would probably have enjoyed it a lot more, it's a good production, a good performance, I do think it owns an 8 in those categories. But 8 in originality ? More like 6 in my opinion, It just feels like heating up yesterday's leftovers to me ...
Susan - 05.10.2012 at 05:57  
Written by Sir Thrashalot on 04.10.2012 at 23:57


As you say, as a LONG time power metal lover, this album doesn't bring anything new to the genre in my opinion. Singer is good, not great, riffs are a bit predictable, nothing on this album made me go "Whoa, that's a great part!".

Just platonic, usual Power Metal. I must admit that for a new and upcoming fan to the genre, i would probably have enjoyed it a lot more, it's a good production, a good performance, I do think it owns an 8 in those categories. But 8 in originality ? More like 6 in my opinion, It just feels like heating up yesterday's leftovers to me ...


Yes, the singer is "good, not great" but she's DIFFERENT which was really nice to hear. She's not a dude, and as far as female singers in power metal go, she doesn't sound like too many others. There is a quality in her voice not usually found in this genre, and even though it's "good, not great" (which I totally agree with) it was still new.

As far as the music... hard to describe but even though it's not super original, it doesn't really sound like other power metal bands either.
blackend - 05.10.2012 at 12:17  
This vocalist remind me of that Ari Koivunen kid at some parts.
As for the composition of the album, I really didn't like the whole "neo-electronic-music keyboard" thingy.
I'd say that really, the only thing that's actually worth the 8er is the production.
Overall 5, really dull.
Druss - 05.10.2012 at 13:29  
Aye, have to agree with the comments above me, I took some time originally with the album ('cus like has been suggested, good (or at least unique/different) are hard to come by, and I wanted to enjoy it), but frankly, if the singer had been in a not so key-laden band, I think I may've enjoyed it much more. There was a cliched feel about a lot of the instruments, for me, and like the reviewer has suggested, I think the songwriting department definately suffered towards the end.
Ag Fox - 05.10.2012 at 15:43  
Written by Sir Thrashalot on 04.10.2012 at 23:57

Written by blackend on 04.10.2012 at 17:41

As a power metal enthusiast, this album is pretty boring.


As you say, as a LONG time power metal lover, this album doesn't bring anything new to the genre in my opinion. Singer is good, not great, riffs are a bit predictable, nothing on this album made me go "Whoa, that's a great part!".

Just platonic, usual Power Metal. I must admit that for a new and upcoming fan to the genre, i would probably have enjoyed it a lot more, it's a good production, a good performance, I do think it owns an 8 in those categories. But 8 in originality ? More like 6 in my opinion, It just feels like heating up yesterday's leftovers to me ...
So... which band and which album in particular do you think is the originator of such... leftovers?
To me, this sounds different to say, Helloween, Iced Earth or Rhapsody
Risto - 05.10.2012 at 18:25  
Written by Ag Fox on 05.10.2012 at 15:43

So... which band and which album in particular do you think is the originator of such... leftovers?
To me, this sounds different to say, Helloween, Iced Earth or Rhapsody

I can surely say the guitarists have listened to their Nevermore with care. Despite the female vocalist they're lacking an own voice, the songs are just lackluster for the most part. This band reminds me of generic American heavy metal without the extreme elements.
Sir Thrashalot - 05.10.2012 at 20:18  
Written by Susan on 05.10.2012 at 05:57

Written by Sir Thrashalot on 04.10.2012 at 23:57


As you say, as a LONG time power metal lover, this album doesn't bring anything new to the genre in my opinion. Singer is good, not great, riffs are a bit predictable, nothing on this album made me go "Whoa, that's a great part!".

Just platonic, usual Power Metal. I must admit that for a new and upcoming fan to the genre, i would probably have enjoyed it a lot more, it's a good production, a good performance, I do think it owns an 8 in those categories. But 8 in originality ? More like 6 in my opinion, It just feels like heating up yesterday's leftovers to me ...


Yes, the singer is "good, not great" but she's DIFFERENT which was really nice to hear. She's not a dude, and as far as female singers in power metal go, she doesn't sound like too many others. There is a quality in her voice not usually found in this genre, and even though it's "good, not great" (which I totally agree with) it was still new.

As far as the music... hard to describe but even though it's not super original, it doesn't really sound like other power metal bands either.


I completely agree with the "new sound" she brings. The only other singer I think her voice ressembles is Kittie's Morgan Lander, though Lander does a lot of harsh vocals and she doesn't, so yes it's fresh. I'm just feeling she's trying to reach some notes she's not nailing 100%. Forcing it a bit more than she's able to, it's the only thing that made me say "not great". But some bands made it to the top with a good singer, as long as you have heart.
Sir Thrashalot - 05.10.2012 at 20:29  
Written by Risto on 05.10.2012 at 18:25

Written by Ag Fox on 05.10.2012 at 15:43

So... which band and which album in particular do you think is the originator of such... leftovers?
To me, this sounds different to say, Helloween, Iced Earth or Rhapsody

I can surely say the guitarists have listened to their Nevermore with care. Despite the female vocalist they're lacking an own voice, the songs are just lackluster for the most part. This band reminds me of generic American heavy metal without the extreme elements.


I must agree with you Blitzk on the American Heavy Metal. Lots of "breakdown-ish" riffs. You know, tadada ... tadada... tadada...

And Ag Fox, let's be honest here, Helloween, Iced Earth and Rhapsody doens't sound AT ALL like Shear. I understand they are both classified as Power Metal, but it's not the same sound , it's like comparing Rush to Dream Theater. It's not the even close in terms of sounding alike.
What I meant was more like what Kamelot or Epica. Except their singers are great (were in Kamelot's case )
The songs are not bad, it's a very good production, good music, good singer. Everything is good, just not great. In the singer's case, it's a small breath of fresh air, but as for the music, it's really nothing grandiose in my opinion.
Ag Fox - 06.10.2012 at 06:46  
Nevermore? I'd say Shear is way more melodic to be even classified as picking up the scraps of them.
Well... the scope of power metal is considerably more narrow than progressive metal. Opeth, Dream Theater, Rush, (latest) Enslaved all fall under the big umbrella of being progressive. But power, at least to me, has less variants and Epica lacks the trademarks (in a significant manner) of power metal.

It's really good that you mentioned Kamelot though, because they have also been rather special in the sub-genre of power metal. They're very melodic, dark, a bit heavier than the rest, symphonic and progressive (and as you said, had a great vocalist), which is exactly why albums like The Black Halo, Ghost Opera are my favourite power metal albums! But what's interesting is that the track "Centre Of The Universe" in the album Epica reminds me of Shear (=
Promonex - 07.10.2012 at 15:10  
Written by Sir Thrashalot on 05.10.2012 at 20:18

I'm just feeling she's trying to reach some notes she's not nailing 100%. Forcing it a bit more than she's able to, it's the only thing that made me say "not great".

Even though I dig this album, I have to agree that the vocals do sound rather forced at some parts, which leaves me quite confused to be honest. She can definitely do better than she showcases here. Just compare the different versions of "Scorched" on Breaking the Stillness and their In Solitude EP.

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