6-Piece Respire, from Toronto, Canada, formed back in 2014, after spending several years in various other bands. After releasing their debut Gravity and Grace back in April, they’re preparing to release limited edition Vinyl and Cassette versions this October. Admittedly, I only discovered the band recently, but their latest record has quickly become my most played album this year by a long shot.
The band’s members; Egin, Rohan, Darren (all Guitar), Ben (Bass), Travis (Drums) and Emmett (Trumpet & Piano) are assisted by a small orchestra on Gravity and Grace, epitomising their creativity and ambition, whilst making it impossible to tie Respire to a single genre. There are elements of Screamo, Post-Rock, Black Metal, Classical and Post-Hardcore thrown into the mix. Their previous work, a four-track EP entitled Demonstration and a standalone track ‘Anthems for Falling Stars’ are brooding and bleak, merging ambient build-ups, thunderous moments and deafening vocals.
Respire’s name is apt in describing their music style. It breathes like a living creature, clinging to life and hope amid isolation and despair. Their composition is suspenseful, visceral and enormous in scale. The band have carefully refined their sound and cultivated all of these ingredients to create their latest work.
Gravity and Grace awakens with ‘Pitter Patter’. We hear the rumble of a distant storm and the rain pouring down. Nervous, quiet Guitar plucks ring out through the downpour, as one by one each instrument comes in; rousing drums and trumpet mount triumphantly, before softening and fading out with delicate piano. A single blast of the trumpet rings out and the band throw everything they’ve got into second track ‘Ascent’. It erupts with lead vocalist Egin’s desperate, scything screams shredding the devastating wall of sound. Saxophone and trumpet compliment the heavier parts and this coalesce of instruments is astonishing during these first two tracks.
We’re dragged into the desolate landscape of ‘Eternal Light’, shaping stunning harmonies that stick with you as it lumbers forward. Glockenspiel chimes over strained, reverberating guitar, the Trumpet driving the momentum, before once again, the sharp, rasping vocals tear through the stirring hurricane of sound. ‘Waltz’ is a violent, thrashing beast I imagine being truly immense live. It’s followed by the album’s title track ‘Gravity and Grace’; a short, instrumental mammoth, boldly striding through the record’s midpoint.
There’s no relief from the onslaught as we reach the cataclysmic, 9-minute ‘Eternal Nothing’; an overhauled version of ‘Nihil’, from the band’s Demonstration EP. It’s a colossal piece that showcases the patience and hard work the band have instilled in not just this track, but the entire album. Beautiful and atmospheric, it’s the album’s masterpiece.
The journey concludes with ‘Evening’; a 10-minute trident split into ‘Melancholy I’, ‘Melancholy II’ & ‘Melancholy III’. Part one begins with clean vocals; a prologue that leads into gruelling screams, crushing drums and screeching guitar. The seamless transition into ‘Melancholy II’ forms the album’s change in temper; a ray of hope shining through the hopelessness & despair experienced prior. We’re swept into ‘Melancholy III’ with an explosion of bruising noise and defiant retort. It’s a brief, reflective epilogue using gorgeous viola, before easing with the comforting jingle of a Music Box and the cheerful chirping of birds; then ending as we come full circle, with the gentle pitter patter of rain.
This is an outstanding experimental album. Respire have constructed a solid foundation and achieved their objective at the first time of trying. It sets a fine precedent and I’m looking forward to hearing more. These guys have a bright future and whatever they do next is undoubtedly going to be something truly special.
Respire are releasing ‘Gravity and Grace’ on limited edition 12? vinyl on 6th October 2016, available to pre-order now; on Zegema Beach Records (Canada), Narshardaa Records (Germany), Dingleberry Records (Germany) and Ozona Records (USA). This is accompanied by a Cassette release on Parking Lot Records (USA).