Reviewed: Isolates – Forces ft. Drew MacKenzie

Released: 28th March 2020

Rating: 5/5

What more fitting band could there be to listen to in self-isolation than Scottish Highlanders Isolates? Forces follows on from their debut single, Frost, which was released in December, and is a monumental piece of work.

Forces incorporates all the best features of Frost, including the vast, chilling atmosphere, delicate instrumentation, and once again featuring Drew MacKenzie. These features are taken and turned into something even greater. It’s one thing to have ambition, but Isolates execute it magnificently. They have a clear vision, taking their favourite elements from various genres, and combining them with ease.

A big influence on Forces appears to be alternative metal, with several heavier elements coming to the forefront that weren’t as apparent on Frost. The opening guitar riff is heavy and wouldn’t sound out of place in a Tool or Disturbed song, the same being true of the distorted bass in the bridge. Yet despite these features, Forces manages to be heavy without being overwhelming. It’s such a fitting progression that it’s unlikely to put off anyone who prefers their music softer – it feels natural and organic.

The prog-rock and dream pop influences from Frost are still evident – the verses comprising of clean, reverberated guitar lines and a synth fitting effortlessly underneath. The lead vocals are rich and direct, with the sombre tone created being reminiscent of Editors. This is complimented by choir-like gang vocals in the bridge, which add to the desolate feel. The song is made up of several layers, but every instrument has its place, whether that being the clever guitar fills, or the beautifully simple piano line, it all just works.

While Frost was an ambitious and well-executed debut single, it understandably felt a bit on the safe side. Forces is confident and daring. The fact that this is only Isolates’ second release is incredible. The professionalism and artistry are exceptional, and this release could rocket them to new heights.

Review by Will Cooper

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