Just as Steven Wilson nurturing his own career sort of killed Porcupine Tree, will Bjørn Riis’ solo ventures put the future of Airbag in jeopardy?
While the Norwegians’ last album Disconnected failed to capitalise on their growing success, Forever Comes To An End almost steals their thunder. Common DNA is hardly a surprise as, in both cases, Riis sings, plays guitar and takes care of all the songwriting and the producing. He’s even recruited two of his fellow Airbag comrades to assist him, blurring the difference between the two entities even more. Yet, Forever’s sense of urgency and bravado are what the too-safe Disconnected lacked. Airbag’s ideas have pretty much been the same ever since 2009’s Identity and its follow-up All Rights Removed; epic yet laid-back prog with more than a nod towards Anathema and Radiohead, including moments of pure ambient bliss and subtle Gilmour-like solos. But while that’s what we expect to hear, the galloping title track, The Waves – a ballad whose desperate chorus perfectly reflects the overall darker tone (‘I try to breathe, I try to scream but I’m too far down’) – or The Getaway’s subtle krauty beat are the best stuff that Riis has come up with in a long time.