It’s been 5 years, so thank goodness that EMBER FALLS have finally decided to release their extremely long-awaited sophomore album. In fact, it’s been so long that the band have been teasing the album since 2019 with a full six singles. At last, it’s time for these dystopian modern metallers to share “Ruins” with us starved fans, via Ranka Kustannus on December 17th, 2021, right in time to enjoy for the holiday season!
As mentioned, with six songs released already, listeners can feel very confident and familiar with this album already. If there is one problem (likely resulting from pandemic delays), however, it’s only that because of this, there were very few new surprises by release time, because everyone has already heard most of the album. This means there is only an intro and two more new songs for current fans (one of which is also, arguably, kind of an intro).
That in mind, as soon as the play button was pressed on this album, I found myself immediately surprised and intrigued by what I was hearing. You know how, at the end of movies, there is often a overture of the score that plays during the final credits? That’s kind of what the intro/title track to “Ruins” is like. It’s a full mash-up of the riffs on the album, including some of the lyrics from songs like “Heart Shaped Black Scar.” It’s a rather surprising way to begin an album and something I, for one, can’t remember the last time I’ve heard on a metal album. The intro also leads nicely into the second single, “Divine,” without feeling incomplete if your shuffle happens to take you somewhere else. “Divine” and “Heart Shaped Black Scar“ were first debuted back in 2019 when the band played with DEAD BY APRIL. The first is an energetic and powerful piece that comes with a truly stunning lyric video by the bands vocalist, Tuomas Välimaa, and also features a danceable beat and a really slick solo by Jussi “JV” Laakso on guitar. “Heart Shaped Black Scar” is a more emotionally charged song about love and betrayal with truly charged lyrics and a great groove, with a darkness in its low-end and a little grit in Tuomas‘ voice that brings the emotion to life.
After these, we move onto one of the newer singles, “For All,” which was released this summer. This track is a beautiful halfway between the previous song and the ones that come after, with a mosh-worthy beat and a lot of fierce growls from Kalle Laakso, as he upkeeps a strong rhythm on guitar. The chorus is uplifting and empowering, while Tuomas‘ wailing towards the end is perfection.
Now, for those of you who don’t understand the title of “We Are Become Fire,” allow me to remind you of the quote by J. Robert Oppenheimer, “I am become death, destroyer of worlds.” If you don’t know the name, he is one of the scientists who was involved in the development of nuclear weaponry. This song touches on those topics in all its electronic metal ferocity, yet the lyrics are fluid and you can read them in many different ways, which is part of this song’s strength, as it feels empowering even if the lyrics aren’t devoted to empowerment. The trade-off between growls and cleans is ever-fantastic and the catchiness of the chorus is truly infectious.
“The World is Burning” is a personal highlight for being one of the most modern/relevant songs I’ve heard in recent years, and that’s just lyrics and not including the slick riffing and awesome djenty bass breakdown from Olli Heino, or the fast and ferocious growls from Kalle before JV starts shredding again. This track is a fucking tight package from start to finish and every time that synth starts up, I’m still taken back to the Initial D races. This leads into the most recent (and theoretically final) single, “The Wall,” which has some of Tuomas‘ most melodic and powerful vocal lines, along with a great, empowering chorus. All of the band’s skills really culminate in this track, with beautiful guitar parts that help carry everything to the next level. As well, Kalle‘s growling parts have a new level of melody that they have not show in other tracks prior to this one, which adds an extra surprise and texturized push – incredible!
Now, at long last, we reach the new material! This starts with the ballad-y “Broken,” which has an ambient electronic main line to accompany Tuomas‘ gentle, deep voice. This moody and even perhaps a bit creepy song has a nice dynamic build-up and really shows the power and hint of grit in Tuomas‘ voice as he takes the spotlight. The haunting lyrics about having your consciousness uploaded digitally are pretty beautifully written as well. The light industrial build-up then brings it straight into the album closer, “Absinthe Children,” working as an intro that builds up a little before the final song. EMBER FALLS really hit a homerun with “The Lamb Lies Down in Sacrifice” as their debut album closer and “Absinthe Children” is no different. Here, we have a song with an emotional dynamic build-up, but with less pure energy and power, finding a more storied and creative way to play around with their sound in a way that feels very true to the end of an album. It starts strong, with Jussi Saurio bashing on the drums in true form, drawing listeners in with its smooth yet fierce groove, while Kalle is the first up vocally with his roaring growls. Tuomas takes over the melodic side and the balance between them is perfect. The synth sound is gorgeous and well-used to enhance the overall sound, while the guitars tear around the sonic playground as Kalle growls in the back. Jussi throws a few blasting parts in here and there for flavor, but never enough to make the song feel annoyingly thrashy, allowing more of a fast marching beat in the chorus. There’s yet another sweet, sweet solo… really, the track has everything you want from EMBER FALLS and will take a little time to digest fully because of its complexity, but it should still catch your attention even on first listen.
Ultimately, this new EMBER FALLS release is everything fans would want it to be. Of course, we would’ve all surely loved maybe one to five more new tracks on “Ruins,” but we can give some leniency because of the pandemic. If the band laid a foundation of strong musicianship with poignant lyrics and creative use of blending pop/electronica into heavy metal in their first album, they’ve built and expanded on that beautifully with their second. So once again, I tip my hat to the precision artistry of what these guys do. We’ve waited a long time for this album and not only did they hit it out of the park again, but they developed and improved, making what was already amazing even better. Here’s to another full-score album to wrap up your 2021!
- Heart Shaped Black Scar
- For All
- We Are Become Fire
- The World is Burning
- The Wall
- Absinthe Children
Tuomas Välimaa – clean vocals
Kalle Laakso – growls, guitars
Jussi “JV” Laakso – guitars
Olli heino – bass
Jussi Saurio – drums