Review: Reach – The Great Divine
Sun Hill (February 23rd 2018)
Reviewer: Stephen Brophy
Swedish rockers Reach are back with ‘The Great Divine‘, and with Soufian Ma´Aoui (Houston) taking over Bass duties. Anyone expecting the new material to sound like 2015’s ‘Out To Rock‘ will be in for a rude awakening. It’s still melodic rock, but it’s got a much deeper and in places darker vibe to it, which also makes it a very interesting album. Produced by Jona Tee (H.E.A.T.) along with Ludvig and there is a hint of the modern H.E.A.T. sound in the intro to ‘You Say‘, but that’s where the comparison ends.
Ten tracks are on offer here and thankfully they are not very easy to label, Rock for sure, but it’s miles outside of the of the bounds of the flood of Scandinavian Melodic Rock that we have seen in recent years, so far outside that in fact that this is possibly one of the most original pieces of work in quite some time. The reality is that at times Reach flirt with Progressive Rock, elsewhere we see a much more pop orientated Rock, and it’s all very fluid.
The album won’t actually sink in for quite some time, there are places and passages that render slightly differently on each subsequent listen, in the more poppy tracks there can be a slight hint of a heavier more musically serious version of Fall Out Boy, or 30 Seconds To Mars. Some of the more progressive tracks are almost veering towards Leprous. How it all blends and fits together I’m not 100% sure but it does. Perhaps this album is confusing me a little, but I want to listen to it again to figure out where it’s going, and in itself that is a success right there. There is an aggression in places in Ludvig’s vocals that wasn’t present previously and it suits this new style very well. Drums as always from Marcus are bang on, so solid and as you would expect from a musician of Soufian’s quality the Bass through the album ranges from thumping through subtle, and the guys sound like they have been together for many years.
Highlight for me is definitely ‘One Life‘, and it doesn’t fit into the general pattern elsewhere, it’s a pop rock track that could be massive on radio if it gets the right exposure, a slightly haunting element to it. Elsewhere this is followed up by an upbeat and pumping track in ‘Running On Empty‘ and it’s different again, everywhere you turn the feel and style changes. To me ‘Shame‘ is another stunner, a little more progressive in style, with the keyboard accompaniment dragging the song in along with the bass riff and it just builds as it progresses, great stuff. Pick any of the ten tracks and they have their own merits, adding to the overall sound.
Reach have taken a massive risk in some minds moving so far away from what they’ve been known for to date, but it’s a massive step forward, this album is not quite the finished article, but if this is the path they have chosen then the next release will be truly epic. ‘The Great Divine‘ provides thought provoking ideas, music that forces you to not only listen to it but to think about it. Bravo Reach, whether the previous fan base wishes to join you on this journey only time will tell, but one listener here will certainly be sticking with it, and many more will be added, please give this one time to seep in, it deserves full attention and gives back in bucket loads. Excellent album.