HALLATAR – No Stars Upon The Bridge

HALLATAR – No Stars Upon The Bridge

Band: Hallatar
Title: No Stars Upon The Bridge
Year: 2017
Country: Finland
Label: Svart Records

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Translation: Giup

  1. Mirrors
  2. Raven's Song
  3. Melt
  4. My Mistake
  5. Pieces
  6. Severed Eyes
  7. The Maze
  8. Spiral Gate
  9. Dreams Burn Down

Last year, Trees Of Eternity's debut album was welcomed amazingly by both critics and fans, in addition to great sorrow for singer Aleah Stanbridge's death, a few weeks before the release. As a reaction to his grief, Juha Raivio, all by himself, wrote the music for this album/tribute to his late band and life companion, starting exactly from some lyrics and poems she left behind.

The guitarist from Swallow The Sun, here also working on keyboards and bass guitar, then asked for the help of his two friends and colleagues Tomi Joutsen and Gas Lipstick, respectively the singer of Amorphis and the former drummer of H.I.M., to complete the lineup and begin with the project. "No Stars Upon The Bridge" is the final outcome and it is as deep and heart wrenching as you would expect it to be.

It is always hard to tackle albums of such importance, because they are relevant on a human level, besides the artistic value; throughout the album, there are moments in which the pain and void felt by Raivio is almost palpable. The guitarist's touch is delicate and profound at the same time, here with a continued arpeggio, there with a monolithic riff. Melodies are bare, dry, terribly effective and the spotlight is reserved to Aleah's words, interpreted in this occasion by an amazing Joutsen. I've always been an Amorphis fanboy, both in their original version and the current one, and the Finnish singer's abilities shouldn't surprise me, but every time I'm shocked by the spontaneity with which he goes from the deepest growl to the cleanest vocals, warm and crystal clear at the same time; with Hallatar, he delivers with a power and variety rarely heard with Amorphis in recent times.

Worth mentioning is Heike Langhan's contribution as well, (not so) new singer of Johan Ericson's Draconian and fellow countrywoman of Aleah herself, who has also moved to Northern Europe: the pretty South-African duets with Joutsen on "My Mistake". Also worth pointing out is another unusual aspect for an album which visibility is relatively limited, namely that two music videos were made; besides the one for "My Mistake", there is one for "Mirrors" too, directed by Vesa Ranta, drummer for the late Sentenced and successful photographer and director today.

The lyrical aspect of the album, the actual cornerstone and Aleah's memory, is simply impossible to deal with: they are the verses of a woman telling about her own mistakes, her own hopes and her own weaknesses which she could not fix or nurture anymore. I leave the only possible conclusion to Juha Raivio's words, through which he wrapped the statement accompanying "No Stars Upon The Bridge": «There are no stars left upon the bridge to light the way anymore, but the music will always be a dim light, even in the darkest of the night».

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