Dénouement by RespireRelease date: May 1, 2018
Label: Middle Man Records / Zegema Beach Records / Narshardaa Records / Dingleberry Records
Respire, from Toronto, Canada, follow up Gravity and Grace with their second album Dénouement. Released in 2016, their debut gave a glimpse at the band’s creativity and diversity, their DIY orchestra shape-shifting through a range of genres. There’s no easy way to describe them, nor does there need to be; they’re purely a group of musicians pouring every last drop of emotion into their intense, direct music.
With a 6-piece core, but stretching to a family of 15 for this pulsating 8-song collection, Respire wrestle with addiction, guilt and trauma. Tackled with a tuned scope, their candid music serves as a conduit for healing, fellowship & salvation. Superbly weighted and well-paced, each track is a chapter in an arduous, but ultimately redeeming story.
Dénouement begins with a loud, guitar-strung header and underlines it from the outset; opener ‘Bound’, a statement of intent that shreds into ravenous vocals, tearing through a soaring post-rock canvas. Unravelling at the mid-point and revealing lush strings, lighter vocals fade in and float atop the growing interlude; before desperate cries contrast against beautiful violin, cascading into a wondrous finale.
“Underneath all this, a weak heart still beats, still true; underneath always, a fading light still burns…”
‘Haunt’ aches with tension; scathing rasps take deep cuts from a lumbering creature of the night, finishing it with a vicious flurry of sweeping guitar and frantic segments. ‘Shiver’ fires the ferocity up a few notches further, a fierce start and conclusion scorching a meditative, instrumental centre with guttural screams.
The opening trio probe damaging issues, but ‘Bloom’ feels like a turning point; a cathartic call for resilience, pulling us back from the brink, waking us from a terrible dream, showing us the light at the end of the tunnel. Respire take a deep breath, shifting their sound & pace, introducing cleaner vocals and uplifting brass.
“The streets are littered with the dead. These catacombs we call home. It’s time to move out.”
We reach the introspective ‘Catacombs’, my favourite track on the record, which starts by mirroring two sets of vocals, one clean and one screamed. Torn between the conflicting voices and peering through fog, it’s too late to turn back, so we’re driven onwards, before finding ourselves frozen in time. Beautiful, echoing violin lingers for eternity, before plunging us into the unknown with a blinding climax.
‘Virtue’ is where the band stands up and dusts themselves off, wearing their scars and using past sorrow as fuel. A period of relief is frayed with twists and turns, coiling into powerful crescendos and collapsing into a hypnotic, catchy finish; before spiralling without pause into ‘A Heart Still Pines’. As we reach the record’s final stages, we see Respire at their most unyielding; unleashing absolutely everything into an upbeat flourish of sound. The record subsides and signs off with the aptly named ‘Dénouement’, a reserved, triumphant closure to a breathtaking record.
“I want to let go – a heart still pines – there must be more…”
Respire’s music is an unburdening of suffering and a longing for closure. It’s the need to let go of pain and past; to persevere and embrace life after loss; to share and pursue more than enough. There’s strength in numbers; the album’s truly defining moments coming when all members are in unison. Respire bare all on each track, sharing their grief with you and urging you to do the same; break the cycle that confines you and see beyond.
Dénouement is an exquisite, inspiring flood of emotion and mesmerising music, not to be missed.
Dénouement is released digitally on May 1st 2018 via Bandcamp, sparking a huge summer tour across Europe. The record is available in 12” Vinyl format via Middle Man Records (US), Zegema Beach Records (CAN), Narshardaa Records (DE) & Dingleberry Records (DE) on 15th June 2018.