The brainchild of Ken Kängström, sometime studio guitarist with Sabaton, Follow the Cipher started off as a small side project to allow Kängstrom to explore ideas that wouldn’t fit within Sabaton’s oeuvre. Musically the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree, fist pumping power metal is still the order of the day, however conceptually the two bands are very different. While Sabaton draw from the history books for their military themes, Follow the Cipher apparently represent a dry and dusty dystopian future where society has collapsed due to its past mistakes. As you do.
As is often the case with such things, unless you have a burning desire to research the band’s concept the whole thing could pretty much pass you by, and even with the research it’s not entirely clear what’s going on. The Cipher seems important as they reference it throughout but it’s difficult to know exactly what - or who - it is.
That said, you don’t have to know what’s going on to enjoy the music, it is such a gloriously overblown work, full of huge choruses, synth-driven verses and wailing guitars. It has the epic turned up to 11 throughout. Dystopian futures shouldn’t sound this fun, surely?
Vocalist Linda Toni Grahn adds a symphonic element to many of the songs and the male backing vocals range from operatic histrionics to death growls, often within the same song.
They sound like they would be an absolute joy live, too. In fact you can almost see them forming a human pyramid during the climactic chorus of ‘I Revive’. They’re that sort of band, unashamedly euro-metal, simultaneously dead serious while also being utterly ludicrous and madder than the most hattiest of hatters. It’s hard not to like an album that is played with such enthusiasm by a group of clearly talented musicians. At its best there are moments of grandiosity that Devin Townsend would be proud of, they seem to have the same no-holds-barred ethos, shoehorning as much as they can to each song. Impressively, considering this approach, the songs rarely outstay their welcome or lose focus. Also considering the high technical skill involved it doesn’t drift into self-indulgence leaning much more towards the rousing and anthemic on songs such as ‘Winterfall’ and ‘The Rising’.
They are one of those bands that the elements that some people will love them for are the exact same ones that others will hate. Ultimately if you have any kind of soft spot for metal played at its most extravagant and bombastic then you’ll find a lot to like here. However, if this all sounds like anathema to you then it’s unlikely Follow the Cipher will change your mind. Grahn’s heavily accented vocals can on occasion grate and for a band depicting the future they do little that hasn’t been done before, but what they do they do really rather well.
For those that buy in this is a fine debut effort, and don’t be surprised to see them creeping up the festival bills in the near future, especially in mainland Europe. Follow The Cipher are definitely a band to keep your eye on.
Still not got a Scooby what a Cipher is, mind.
Enter the Cipher
A Mind's Escape
Play With Fire
Linda Toni Grahn - Vocals
Ken Kängström - Guitar
Karl Löfgren - Drums
Viktor Carlsson - Guitar,Vocals
Jonas Asplind - Bass
Follow the band here: https://en-gb.facebook.com/followthecipher/
Follow the Cipher is available now, order it here: http://www.nuclearblast.de/en/shop/artikel/gruppen/51000.1.nuclearblast.html?article_group_sort_type_handle=rank&custom_keywords=follow+the+cipher&custom_artists=5257055