There’s never a forever thing: that song hadn’t made so much sense until after a-ha announced they would split. I couldn’t believe it and we all must have to wave goodbye on their farewell tour.
Four years had passed and a certain kind of anxiety mixed with curiosity towards the Rock in Rio line-up took me over. That festival has an important significance for me because during its third edition in 2001 was the first time I had seen concerts live – I was 13 years old. I’ve always heard about the relation between this festival and a-ha: Back in 1991, they entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest paying audience at a concert. In 2015, the 30th anniversary of the first Rock in Rio edition would be celebrated, and coincidentally the 30th anniversary of the Hunting High and Low album release. And I’ll never forget that 4th December 2014 when it was confirmed that a-ha would perform again at Rock in Rio Festival the following year as part of their anniversary. And then a mass hysteria took over the fans. There’s never a forever thing, indeed! That split couldn’t last forever.
Finally September 2015 came, and I not only saw a-ha at Rock in Rio, but also was gifted by the release of the Cast in Steel album, that is what this review is for.
Cast in Steel marks a triumphant return. It’s simply wonderful to hear such powerful songs live: I was delighted to see the performances of “Forest Fire” and “Under the Makeup”. These songs had impressed me with the studio version but turned out majestic in live performance. The first single “Under the Makeup” has a ghostly fine orchestral melody, along with Morten’s well known velvety voice and his high pitches make this a very aching love song when the masks falls and we show our true colours. It really makes one shiver. And it’s ‘hard to be honest when others pretend’…and it’s ‘the end of the affair’, a peaceful and touching ballad of Magne’s on the Deluxe edition.
“The Wake” is another song about a troubled relationship and with pulsating beats accompanied by great bits of guitar riffs.
The album’s title track “Cast in Steel” marks a great start. It’s a terrific song with strong melody and lyrics.
“Forest Fire” has one of the strongest use of synthesizer of the album. That kind of song with epic catchy chorus. It has that “Take On Me” feeling. “Living at the End of the World” moves my heart. It’s a great driving anthem. It reminds me of “Stay on These Roads”.
The synths in “Objects in the Mirror” connect me to “Foot of the mountain”, while the beats of “Mythomania” bring us back to their 80’s roots on a modern tune. I love its groove! “She’s Humming a Tune” creates a lovely ambiance among the guitars, synths and Morten’s voice. And I can feel that dark tones of “Shadow Endeavours” and “Giving Up The Ghost”. I must admit I didn’t go crazy by the opening of “Door Ajar” but the song is fine overall. “Goodbye Thomson” ends the album with a sense of enigmatic melancholy.
Cast in Steel is a modern and fresh album and somehow it leaves us a sense of nostalgia. Mags, Morten and Paul have created a thrill of euphoria among their fans when they announced their resurrection. How long will this reunion last? No one knows. But we all know that a-ha is back and they are brilliant. And their contribution to music and the fans’ admiration are ‘set in stone and cast in steel’.