Review: Reach – ‘The Promise of a Life’

Throw a dart at Sweden and chances are that you will hit someone in a band, and with so many top-quality bands currently bursting out of the country; Sweden (along with Germany) is arguably one of the front runners when it comes to producing well-played, gutsy, memorable rock ‘n’ roll. But with more changes in direction and style in the opening five minutes than most of their counterparts will have in an entire album, Reach are the Swedish rock band that doesn’t actually sound like a Swedish rock band.

Studio album number three ‘The Promise of a Life‘ opens with ‘New Frontier’, and a Muse influence instantly comes oozing out of the speakers. The mariachi-tinged explosive guitars of ‘Knights of Cydonia’ are all present and correct, as is the same over-the-top-everything-but-the-kitchen-sink grandiosity of Matt Bellamy and company. Throw in a hint of Gogol Bordello, along with some Freddie Mercury-like perfectly pronounced vocals, and a mid-song diversion down the path marked “Zeppelin-sized riffs”, and you have an opening five minutes that is bold, cinematic, and totally gonzo. And it also features someone whistling. Bullseye.

Once the dust has settled from ‘New Frontier’, the album continues with the more straightforward approach of ‘The Law’, which packs a vibe of QOTSA partying over at Dave Grohl’s house, that kind of thing. Great shimmering guitar tones from vocalist/guitarist Ludvig Turner throughout. Continuing with the theme of constantly changing things up, ‘Young Again’ begins with Turner crooning over some light musical chords as if he was gearing up for a cover of ‘(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life’ from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. But instead of playing the part of Bill Medley, he launches into one of the lightest, fun, tracks you are as likely to hear this year. Such a fun few minutes.

‘Motherland’ continues along with the same notion of Gogol Bordello jamming with Muse and Queen that features on opening track ‘New Frontier’, but this time with added chutzpah, and the end result wouldn’t look or sound out of place alongside Hugh Jackman on The Greatest Showman. ‘The Seventh Seal’ is much darker, and played at a slow-burning, brooding pace, with a kinda freaky sound effect running throughout. Regardless of how the trio known as Reach plays it, the stadium-sized hooks are never that far away, and ‘Higher Ground’ is the perfect example of this. When the song begins, the listener has no idea of where it will take them, and instead of zigging, it zags and grows into this towering epic with some incredible arrangements and hooks big enough to land both King Kong and Godzilla. A real highlight. Another highlight would be ‘The Streets’; beginning with a few seconds of spaced-out synths, the song grows into a hybrid of modern, commercial rock reminiscent of Panic At The Disco, and riff-laden arrangements which in some alternative universe, would be part of the perfect Bond theme song.

Ending on the soaring title track, the trio consisting of Ludvig Turner, Marcus Johansson, and Soufian Ma´Aoui have created an album that constantly surprises and amazes, an album that pushes the envelope when it comes to what a Swedish rock group is “supposed” to sound like. If we went on a points-scoring rating system, then Reach would get an extra ten points for the incredible album cover artwork – simply stunning.

Available now on Icons Creating Evil Art, more information, here.

(Photo credit: Olivia Eriksson/Streetlight Motion )


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