We begin with "Lights" and like the seductive appeal of a city's back-street neon glow, it's a slow, enticing electronic intro, pulsing and building up to some chunky riff-work and the transition between electronica and more metal elements works very well. It's a solid combination, sounding bold but bright and Chris Forsberg has some good clean vocals, however fully able to get aggressive for the chorus without taking away from the clearly smooth production quality; while not breathtaking it's a strong start. The title track then by contrast bursts in very much in a more agitated fashion...it's fast paced, in your face and quite frankly pissed off...and it's great! The key changes going from hardcore to melodic contribute to a multi-layered song that in ways would appeal to fans of say, KILLSWITCH ENGAGE and DEVIN TOWNSEND in equal measure, slotted somewhere between the two but not lost as a sound.
Following up immediately after that is "Perception" and son of a fuck me this just gets better by the track! A flurry of drums and riffs kick-start this absolute banger and it's got everything you could need to make this an album highlight; it's got great hooks, it's up-beat with a solid, consistent rhythm, the guttural vocals don't detract anything from the pop qualities of the track and the chorus is massive, this is an absolute tune! This is superb! Continuing with the pop aesthetics we have "Let Us Fall" and in ways this doesn't even sound like the same band...it's got such a rich, melodic and accessible quality to it, it's got radio-rock anthem written all over this one and while not as exciting, it's really quite mainstream; this could be a potentially big single...while again, creating ample contrast, "The Dormant National" is a more sluggish, heavy, hard-hitting number really adding weight to the album.
The tunes keep coming mind you, with "Monotone" again, channeling influences like SOILWORK and IN FLAMES, combining ferocity with a superb, harmonious chorus, you really get the best of both worlds with these Swede's, while "Control", despite it's slower pace is no less impassioned; a far mellower offering, somewhat dramatic but genuinely great...before we finish up on "All For None" which utilizes another fine blend of electronica and metal, but also an interesting inclusion of samples from 1933 Universal Movies classic "The Invisible Man"...with a focus on alienation, inner torment and frustration, finding your place in the world, it's another brilliantly thought-out track and another album highlight, before we finally end on "Circles" which essentially caps off an honestly strong album with more of the same, not faltering and ending proceedings on a high note. Sarea to many, may simply be another in a long line of Scandinavian bands following a formula or style, but the quality of this album alone should set them apart...for fans of the genre this is a must have and for neutrals, it's definitely worth checking out. Black at heart? Pass the defibrillator, let's get these guys going!