Folk N Rock
Spotlight EP: “To Fear Is To Live” – Relentless Pursuit

Today, I’m thrilled to go into “To Fear Is To Live,” the  EP from Relentless Pursuit dropping this Independence Day, July 4th, 2024. This release has been on my radar since the first single hit my ears, and now, I’m stoked to share why it’s one of my most anticipated EPs of the year.

The EP opens with “Exordium,” an instrumental track that I’m completely sold on. Longtime readers will remember my consistent praise for his skill and songwriting ability in past reviews. I’ve always been impressed by his vocal work, particularly the way he blends together contrasting elements to create a truly unique experience.

“Exordium” showcases a whole other facet of his talent: his mastery of arrangement. The instrumental flourishes on this track are nothing short of incredible, it just one of the many examples I can use to his attention to detail that he pours into his work. The inclusion of a few instrumentals on this EP is a welcome and “Exordium” is a prime example of why.

The song open with a powerful, almost cinematic wave of emotion. Delicate piano notes and light orchestration create an enchanting atmosphere in the first 20 seconds, building a rich and intricate sound. Then, around the pulse of percussion enters the fray. Now this right here really  amplifies the track’s epic feel, like something straight out of a blockbuster movie soundtrack.

The opening notes create a beautiful and almost goosebump-inducing mood, reminiscent of the epic scores Hans Zimmer is known for. I mean it’s just the way theses lush strings swell subtly in the background, adding a layer of grandeur that evokes the vastness of a cinematic masterpiece.  The atmosphere is strikingly similar to the depth found in Zimmer’s soundtrack for the film Crimson Tide.  (Side note: For fans of epic film scores, definitely check out Nightwish’s cover of the “Crimson Tide and the Deep Blue Sea” section of Zimmer’s soundtrack. It’s a killer rendition!) But that is totally the feeling I get from this opening.

“Patience Is An Art” flows seamlessly from the intro, and for those of you craving those monstrous guitar tones, the wait is over. This track unleashes a wave of soaring heavy metal energy, with the guitar work snakes through the percussion patterns. It’s not quite the full-throttle power metal assault we’ve heard on some of his other tracks, but rather a more measured, classic heavy metal approach, reminiscent of the iconic sounds of Judas Priest. The intensity simmers just below the surface, ready to boil over at any moment.

But then, a brief pause in the chaos is shattered by an absolutely bone-chilling scream with a nice little mini breakdown. When the growling vocals kick in, it’s almost impossible to focus on anything else happening in the background because they’re just so intense. But if you listen closely, there’s what sounds like a choir harmonizing subtly in the background, creating a dissonant yet strangely beautiful contrast with the growling vocals.

It’s like this insane juxtaposition of brutal, heavy, almost demonic vocals with these angelic harmonies. It’s lightness and darkness all rolled into one glorious package. As for the song itself, to me it feels like a plea for divine guidance and strength. He’s struggling, and  looking for a higher power to show them the way out of their current situation.  But it’s also asking for the wisdom to make good choices and the strength to overcome their challenges.

Now, the next track is ‘Comfort In Knowing’ is the next song, which of course I’ve already done a throw and in-depth write-up on this track just by itself as it was a single release. Another absolutely beautiful track and you can check out my thoughts and what I had to say about it at this link.

‘To Remain Selfless’ gets right to the point in terms of the metal. It’s just an all-out assault right from the first note. No buildup, no teasing, just a straight-up metal that throws you headfirst into the mosh pit. It’s a cool change of pace and a smart move to shake up the EP’s overall flow. This track showcases a whole different side of his arsenal, drawing from a range of core influences to create a unique and aggressive sound that’s hard to pin down. The song’s structure is very solid.

The vocal work on this track is absolutely wild. He starts off with these deep, guttural growls that have this demonic overlay, like a horde of hellish creatures whispering in your ear. Then, just when you think you’ve got a handle on what to expect, it switches gears and goes straight into classic death growls.

It sounds like a thousand voices swirling around in your head, all talking at once. It’s like a chaotic symphony of madness, a representation of the internal struggle we all face from time to time. Let’s be honest, our inner voices aren’t always narrated by Morgan Freeman, and this is the sound of struggle.  Sometimes they sound like this – a chorus of conflicting thoughts and anxieties, each vying for attention. This track captures that feeling perfectly.

The song to me seem to be about looking for redemption and a for spiritual connection in the face of despair. He feels lost and unseen by the world, clinging to a higher power as their only source of solace and strength. And it’s all about having those regret for past mistakes and a need to make amends for a life filled with sin and selfishness. He believe in a “better way” and is fully determined to find it, turning to faith as a guide to forgiveness and a path towards a more righteous life.

“Interim,” the second instrumental track on the EP, takes a  heavier approach than the opening piece. It just goes right into a wall of guitars, immediately giving a more aggressive tone. The song’s progression leans towards a progressive metal style, even though for the most part it stays completely consistent. Which is a pretty unique approach I would say.

And again, beneath the surface are atmospheric distortions that add a haunting depth to the track, I really love how this is done in a lot of his work. While there are a few brief pauses throughout the song, they are short and makes the tension more impactful before the main music surges back in. Overall, the track maintains a consistent flow and energy, never letting up on the intensity even if it takes a few other paths.

“Cessation” closes out the EP with another heavy-hitter, but the guitar work here takes on a distinctly different flavor. While the opening riffs are undeniably powerful, there’s a certain groove and swagger to them that sets them apart from the previous tracks. The intricate riffing weaves in and out of the thunderous drums, creating a dynamic and head-banging experience.

Speaking of drums, I have to say that the percussion work on this EP is absolutely stellar. The drummer’s style is impeccable, especially during the breakdowns where a rapid-fire “ratatat” rhythm takes over. It’s a subtle detail, but it adds so much energy and excitement to the track. As the song progresses, the intensity only escalates. The guitars become more ferocious, the drums more thunderous, and the vocals more guttural.

To me it feels like the vocals are strategically deployed in sections. This gives each element room to breathe, and it lets you fully appreciate the intricate interplay between the vocals and the music. As the music momentarily simmers down, the vocals take on a distorted,
almost static-like quality, culminating in a bloodcurdling scream before the drums unleash an absolute maelstrom of sound.

It’s a heart-pounding moment, and arguably the most intense passage not just on this EP, but possibly in the artist’s entire discography. If you’re a fan of music that goes from heavy to absolutely bone-crushing in the blink of an eye, this part is going to blow you away.

But then, as if emerging from the wreckage of a storm, a piano melody takes center stage. It’s a simple, yet hauntingly beautiful refrain that continues to the very end.

If you’ve been following my reviews, you know Relentless Pursuit is one of my most exciting discoveries this year. I’ve been consistently impressed by his work, and this EP absolutely delivers on the high expectations set by his previous single. The instrumentation is tight, the lyrics are insightful, and the songwriting feels deeply personal. This is the kind of music that makes me excited to be a music journalist – discovering artists who are pushing boundaries and watching them evolve is an incredibly rewarding experience.

The EP delivers on the promise of heaviness, but it’s not just about brute force. The softer, more melodic elements are just as awesome, creating a really cool listening experience. What truly sets this EP apart, though, is the cinematic scope of the music in many of the sections.

Here’s hoping for a full-length album in the near future.

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Scott