REVIEW: Poets of the Fall – Ghostlight

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In a world where rock and metal bands want to be as loud and heavy as they possibly can, a select few seek to be understated and elegant in their music. Finnish alt-rockers POETS OF THE FALL are definite representative of the latter category. Not that they can’t be reasonably heavy, as evident by older hits such as “Lift,” “Locking up the Sun,” or “Dreaming Wide Awake,” it is just that in recent years they choose ambiance and texture over loud guitars. Their most recent album, “Ghostlight,” released on April 29th, 2022, via Playground Music, is as beautiful and dynamic as it is soothing and vibrant, with plenty of diversity for everyone to enjoy.

Coming off as a continuation of (or maybe a response to) the pop-infused “Ultraviolet” (2018), “Ghostlight” enchants listeners not just with Marko Saaresto‘s rich baritone vocals and beautifully written lyrics, but also with wonderful symphonic orchestrations and some piano parts. Put all these elements together, sprinkle some delicate guitars and percussions, and you have the perfect recipe for music that really pulls at the heartstrings. But this is just one side of the record’s soundscape, as there are some songs that harken back to the band’s heavier times, balancing everything and making the album feel well-rounded. The album is pretty much divided between massive rock numbers and mellow, soulful ballads, showing off the band’s strengths in both areas.

Single “Requiem for my Harlequin” already gave massive hints about where the album was going musically, as it is a faster and melodramatic number with some emphasis on guitar work and lavish orchestrations, capped off by a big chorus section and a fiery guitar solo. Opening on groovy guitar melodies and pounding drums, album highlight “Revelations” is a fuller, poppier, and up-tempo track that displays a band that has still got what it takes to write a banger that will light up the scene when played live. That guitar riff is a bona fide earworm, while the chorus is a real crowd-pleaser. It masterfully combines the band’s pop sensitivities with a solid rock backbone to the delight of fans of their older material. Six minutes pass by in the blink of the eye while listening, dancing, or headbanging to this tightly-written rock anthem. “Weaver of Dreams” stands out as another rockish moment because of its juxtaposition between subtle verses and hefty chorus sections. Here, POETS OF THE FALL balance the two aspects perfectly while a jaunty piano line underpins the melodic section beautifully. “Chasing Echoes” also has an ebb and flow between mellow sections and well-written crescendo parts that work together to make this one another live hit, if it makes it on the setlist.

Elsewhere on the album, opening track “Firedancer” has a faint trance vibe to it as it boasts piano, soft vocals, and beautiful percussion. That is, until the guitars gradually start taking over and veer this track into alt-rock territory with cinematic subtleties. The build-up is fantastic and gives plenty of room for “Firedancer” to twist and turn during its playtime. Emotional “Sounds of Yesterday,” delicate “Heroes and Villains,” and mellow “Lust for Life” wonderfully prove that the utterly beautiful sonic world – where pop-infused melodies meet poetic lyrics – that POETS OF THE FALL have built over the years still gracefully stands the test of time, already being fan-favorites. If “Revelations” has a show-stopping riff waving in and out of its tapestry of sound, “Hello Cabaret” has arguably the best guitar solo on the record, beautifully complementing the vocals. A somber cello line gives the track a dramatic feel that enhances the jazzy ambiance and makes everything all the more emotional. “Hello Cabaret” is undeniably another highlight of the album, contrasting in mood and texture with most of the rest of the songs. Closing up this masterpiece of an album is “Beyond the Horizon,” another majestic track that, just like “Firedancer,” twists and turns as cello and guitars trade off to make it as emotionally heavy and lofty as possible. This is a cinematic grand finale for a superb album.  

POETS OF THE FALL are like a sparkling rainbow on Finland’s gloomy metal firmament, as their music is airy, bright, cinematic, and deeply emotional with poetic lyrics and soulful vocals guiding the experience. “Ghostlight” sees the band at the peak of creativity and artistry, as their trademark blend of rock, pop, and cinematic orchestrations has reached a new level of perfection and beauty. The album delights the listeners with moods and nuances that are only enhanced by hooky melodies and honey-sweet vocals. With “Ghostlight,POETS OF THE FALL more than cement their status as a band that is quite unique in their musicianship, consistently delivering songs that, in any other hands, would feel stale and clichéd, but under their guidance feel fresh and genuine every time. 

Written by Andrea Crow

Tracklist

1. Firedancer
2. Requiem for My Harlequin
3. Sounds of Yesterday
4. Revelations
5. Heroes and Villains
6. Lust for Life
7. Chasing Echoes
8. Weaver of Dreams
9. Hello Cabaret
10. Beyond the Horizon

Lineup

Marko Saaresto – Vocals
Olli Tukiainen – Guitar
Markus Kaarlonen – Keyboards, production
Jani Snellman – Bass
Jaska Mäkinen – Guitar
Jari Salminen – Drums

Label

Playground Music

Links

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