POETS OF THE FALL
Release: October 5, 2018
“Ultraviolet” marks the eight studio release from Finnish cinematic rock band Poets of the Fall in their 15-year long career. Since their debut in 2005 with the well-received “Signs of Life”, they have released such hits as “Carnival of Rust” (which gathered over 23 million views on youtube), “War”, “Cradled in Love”, “Lift”, “Late Goodbye” or “Choice millionaire”, and have played shows around the world, but somehow still seem like Finland’s best kept musical secret. Their trademark sound combines beautifully written lyrics with Marko Saaresto’s honey-sweet vocals, and a cinematic background to create an all-around dreamlike atmosphere. And the moniker ‘Poets of the Fall’ really fits the mellow, sentimental music these finns have been creating. American fans will have a chance to see the band play at the XX-th anniversary of ProgPower USA, in September 2019.
Poets of the Fall have never been a heavy band to listen to, even though they have more rockish and dynamic songs in their catalogue, like “Lift”, “Locking up the Sun” “Dreaming Wide Awake” or “Daze”, but for the most part they were rock with pop elements intertwined in the songs.
Dancing on broken glass
My dark disquiet
The sweet escape
Moments before the storm
In a perfect world
Choir of cicadas
However, with “Ultraviolet” they seem to be more pop-rock than ever before, pushing the music into a softer and more accessible direction. Yes, the charm of their music is still very much present, the vocals are as sweet as before, the overall cinematic atmosphere is still there, but I am missing the more rock-oriented tracks. To me “Ultraviolet” is an album of ballads, very soothing and beautiful all the way through, if taken as a whole, with the most up-tempo track being “Angel”, which actually sounds like a trance tune, and I will be surprised if Tiesto or Armin van Buuren won’t remix it sooner or later. Especially the chorus has that jump-to-the-beat, arena vibe to it.
Leading single “Dancing on broken glass” opens the album on a very atmospheric note with its rather up-beat melody, catchy chorus, and popish vibes. “My dark disquiet” livens things up a bit more with electro beats, electric guitars, and an up-tempo chorus, but the melody, even though it tries to fall in line with their rockish songs, is not strong enough to be remembered. The jazzy and seductive “False kings” presents their very soft and sweet side, though it needs a few listens through to truly appreciate it’s deep meaning and beauty. After a rather iffy start, the album picks up momentum with the soft rock track “Fool’s Paradise”, a definite throwback to the band’s old style and sound, where the guitars offer a neat support to the vocal melody, while the keys and drums wrap everything up in lush orchestration. The acoustic “Standstill” again reassures the listener that the heart of Poets of the Fall is still beating strongly, as it somehow echoes the likes of “Love will come to you” or “Roses”, with Marko’s emotionally charged delivery and hopeful lyrics.
A definite highlight and one of my favorites from this album is the 80’s inspired ballad “The sweet escape”, with a very melodic and soulful Marko, singing about love and passion, on a background of electro beats and intense synth soundscapes; very much comparable to Richard Marx’s “Hazard”, though story-wise not as dark. After this trio of wonderful songs, and a rather good middle section, up comes the mellow “Moments before the storm” and the acoustic “In a perfect world” (yes, acoustic again), which are not really on par with the rest of their back catalogue, simple and beautiful as they may be on their own. After the trance-like tune “Angel”, the album closes with “Choir of cicadas”, another overly-sweet ballad, which doesn’t quite stand out from the rest.
Unfortunately, “Ultraviolet” doesn’t really see Poets of the Fall at their best and most creative, though it has its moments when you see what could have been. I do admire and appreciate their aesthetic sensibilities and vision, but this album is way too pop-oriented and with very few rockish tunes to balance the sweetness of the ballads. The band took a big gamble here, as it is basically the same formula repeated in different formats, and it gets a bit boring towards the end. Sorry to say this, but overall “Ultraviolet” is more of a miss than a hit for me. More rock tunes next time, please!
Rating: 7 / 10
Marko Saaresto – vocals
Olli Tukiainen – guitar
Jaska Mäkinen – guitar
Jani Snellman – bass
Jari Salminen – drums
Markus Captain Kaarlonen – keyboards