[schema type=”review” name=”Trees of Eternity – Hour of the Nightingale” description=”Label: Svart Records” author=”Basak Günel” pubdate=”2016-11-11″ ]
“It is no secret that I tend to find solace in darker music, written from a genuine place of melancholy, sadness and emotion. In my darkest times this is the music I have always found most liberating.”
Aleah Liane Starbridge
There are some projects which are born from pure passion and creativity in a rather strange but beautiful fashion. Trees of Eternity is one of those projects brought alive by 2 talented musicians Aleah Stanbridge and Juha Raivio (who is the mastermind behind Swallow The Sun). Fans who are especially familiar with Finnish metal have definitely heard Aleah’s name before as she collaborated with bands like Swallow The Sun and Amorphis.
ToE has a rather interesting story; this project came to life unexpectedly when Juha contacted Aleah for the StS song “Lights on the Lake”. It was then that they had this interesting magic between each other and decided to give birth to Trees of Eternity. Fans of this project had been waiting for a release for a very long time… The year of 2016 was full of surprises but also sudden shocks for the project as well as for the fans; before the release of the album, Aleah passed away on April 2016 which shocked a lot of us.On the other hand, in this darkness, Juha gave us good news of the release of “The Hour of the Nightingale” and so the wait is over.
I have to be honest here.. This is the most difficult review I have ever written. Surely I haven’t known Aleah personally but as a huge Amorphis and Swallow The Sun fan, I have heard her angelic voice many times. When I read the news of her death, I was beyond shocked. It was also interesting because hours before I read the news, I was listening to a song in which she contributed as guest vocalist and thought to myself “What a great voice”… I think anyone who loves Aleah’s works would relate with this aspect. Many of us do not know her personally but we were shocked when we read the news. Now, you might imagine what happens when people like us listen to the record.. The first song starts and tears keep flowing in our eyes. So it was especially hard for me to listen to the record objectively… It took me many spins to truly embrace the beautiful music that Trees of Eternity delivered us and to write a rather objective review of course..
This album is special for many reasons. Although the project’s masterminds are Aleah and Juha, this album contains great musicians; the Norrman brothers, who we know from Katatonia as well as the ever-amazing Kai Hahto, who is now the drummer of Nightwish and who has been the drummer of Wintersun as well as Swallow The Sun. Furthermore, the record also features Mick Moss from Antimatter and Nick Holmes from Paradise Lost and Bloodbath. For the fans of doom/dark metal, the musicians featured is more or less like a dream come true. Especially after listening to the record many times, I realize ‘the character’ of each band-member in the sound and in the little elements featured throughout the record. In this sense, this album is definitely one of the best records in the history of dark/doom metal.
The highlight of the album is definitely Aleah; the more I listen to the record, the more I ask myself if she knew of her death while composing the songs. The songs are so beautiful but so sad and heart-crushing at the same time. I also have to mention that Aleah is not the typical ‘female vocalist’ that we know; she has a very unique voice and it’s not about the looks or the lifestyle when we are talking about Aleah. There’s something in her voice that is ‘ghostly’, melancholic but angelic at the same time. This magic will capture you from the beginning; you can definitely tell that she was passionate in whatever she did which was also the case with her collaborations with other bands. She doesn’t need screaming vocals or she doesn’t need to force herself, the ‘ghostly’ and magical vocals add a rather gloomy and cloudy approach to the album’s atmosphere, making it quite doom-y even though it’s not the typical ‘slow doom’ metal record.
Sound-wise, the more I listen to the record, the more I hear some influences from big names; Draconian, Katatonia and Swallow The Sun (obviously) are some of the names that I can mention.The overall vibe of the record is quite dark, reminding me of a dark winter night where one is melancholic and daydreaming. Apart from Aleah’s vocals, the album also features male vocals in 2 songs – “Condemned to Silence” and “Gallows Bird”-. I would have loved to hear more male vocals as I think it fits perfectly with Aleah’s unique vocals. Although I have many personal favorites, one highlight of the record is the rather ‘acoustic’ song “Sinking Ships”; it is times like these where I truly appreciate the simplicity and perfect harmony of the guitars and vocals…. One does not need anything else in a song like this.
One thing I would maybe criticize would be the style and sound being strongly similar to the styles of Katatonia and Swallow The Sun; especially at times, the guitar riffs resemble the styles of the two bands so much. This is quite clear considering the album line-up. I am sure that if Aleah had been alive, we would have seen so much more of Trees of Eternity with respect to its style and essence of the sound. Both musicians have/had so much talent and potential and they are not the ones who would repeat themselves so it’s such a shame to not being able to experience the perfect development and progression of this project… Nevertheless, this record is unique and sincere in many ways, even darkness in its true form considering Aleah’s death.
Dark and beautiful, “Hour of the Nightingale” is a perfect goodbye for Aleah… I thank Mr. Raivio for having the courage in these dark times and delivering us a great record. Get it and discover the beauty that is Trees of Eternity.
Aleah Stanbridge – vocals
Juha Raivio (SWALLOW THE SUN) – guitars
Kai Hahto (NIGHTWISH) – drums
Fredrik Norrman (OCTOBER TIDE, ex-KATATONIA) – guitars
Mattias Norrman (OCTOBER TIDE, ex- KATATONIA) – bass
01. My Requiem
02. Eye of Night
03. Condemned to Silence (feat. Mick Moss)
04. A Million Tears
05. Hour of the Nightingale
06. The Passage
07. Broken Mirror
08. Black Ocean
09. Sinking Ships
10. Gallows Bird (feat. Nick Holmes)
Trees of Eternity Facebook