Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Poets of the Fall

I’m wondering out loud whether or not I would want to include music as a continuing vein of discussion on this blog. Potentially, I could be spread too thin by so many subjects. As far as experimental experiments are concerned, this seems promising. The only way to know for sure is by seeing what happens here.

Ever since I started writing on the internet I've been waiting for an excuse to write about these guys because they’re one of my favorite bands and it’s likely you've never heard of them. However, don’t put up the hipster banner just yet because I want you to like them just as much as I do. For the websites I currently write and have written for, it was next to impossible to find a proper context for this band with which I could describe them appropriately. After all, they aren't particularly relevant to HBO. But you know what? I have my own blog now (I’ll stop fawning over this eventually. But it's exciting, y'know?).

Poets of the Fall was formed in 2003 by lead vocalist Marko Saaresto and Olli Tukiainen out of Helsinki, Finland.  Their first album, Signs of Life, debuted in 2005 and quickly earned high praise in the Finnish market. Ever since the band has garnered several awards for their music, mostly Finnish, but has been slowly gaining an international and intercontinental appeal. Their music strikes a tone between hope and longing, confidence and devastation. Marko’s unique, heavy voice offers evidence that it is in fact the same band creating songs with dramatically different atmosphere, instrumental progression, and appeal. Sometimes the high tempo and guitar rhythms move like a steady rock group, but in some songs all you can focus on is the piano. Even more promising is the combination of classical instruments used for some of the heavier, eclectic music. Still, it’s great to come down with a sweet sounding melody from an acoustic guitar.  

I wonder if you've played Max Payne 2, because if you have then you heard their song Late Goodbye at least in its sporadic appearances throughout the game. A catchy melody, poetic lyrics, and yet the melancholy feel doesn't overpower the emotional impact it delivers. The game centers on a loose cannon cop, Max Payne, whose wife and daughter were murdered by addicts on a new drug called “V”. Set as a riff on traditional noir detective stories (example: Chinatown), Payne had previously uncovered a conspiracy concerning the drug which linked dealers to the mob, and a major pharmaceutical conglomerate whose CEO is a member of an Illuminati-esque organization called “The Inner Circle”.  In this sequel to the game, Payne searches for acceptance of the fact that he is still alive while contending with a group of hired hitters known as “The Cleaners”, so named for the fact that they disguise themselves as an outside hire cleaning company. The song, which plays in full over the end credits, is representative of the life Max has lived up to this point. Having lost his family he is too afraid and guilty to love again, but he has to keep pushing forward if he wants to figure his life out. This being one of the first songs to bring the band into the limelight, it has a much different sound to it, most notably in the vocals, compared to their later music. Later, the band would contribute their music to another game by the same production studio; Alan Wake.

Their best song, in my opinion, is Carnival of Rust, released in 2006. There’s definitely a motif running through their music of love and/or loss (at the very least their albums should come with a label to not listen to too many songs in a row). With lyrics that feel almost perfectly composed for the beautiful melody, it holds a strong emotional weight that doesn't overstay its welcome. The music video itself is equal parts Tim Burton and Are You Afraid of the Dark, mixing dark imagery and heavy symbolism to create a long metaphor for a love betrayed by thoughtlessness. This is about as heavy as their music gets, never straying too far from themes concerning the growth of the soul, and how it gets tested at every opportunity by the indelicacies of living. 

I recommend checking out Poets of the Fall if only because they offer a sound you don’t often get to hear in music these days. They are definitely a band to ease yourself into though. A lot of their music is fun and fast paced, off-setting some of the heavier tones in some of their songs that might drive away some of the more lighthearted listener. However, the unique vocals, instrumentals, and overall style are more than capable of defending themselves to the inquisitive and wary alike.

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