Label: Massacre Records
Release Date: February 22, 2013
Eternal Tears of Sorrow, the Finnish melodic metallers have had a history of having a dedicated fan base due to their mixed variety of sounds. The growth of this band has been nothing but exponential. From a small band releasing EPs to one of the most well received bands, EToS have reached a critical stage wherein fans from all around the world wish to see them live. Honestly there’s a huge quality-difference between gothic metal from the Germany/Austria/Switzerland region and gothic metal from Finland and Sweden. Bands from the former tend to be rather ordinary at every front, resembling each other in every possible meaning of the word “generic” and only rarely (if ever) coming through with good releases. Bands from the latter tend to do the complete opposite; be it Amberian Dawn and Nightwish, or For My Pain… and Eternal Tears of Sorrow, almost all releases and bands seem to be of higher standard and quality. Their records are original, feature interesting compositions, and a great contrast between death/black elements and the delicacies of gothic metal.
In 2008-2009, they came across some several important changes in the line-up and released a masterpiece record Children of the Dark Waters. This album had given the genre-mates of Eternal Tears of Sorrow something to gnaw on, because this album had all a future classic needs! After a gap of 3 years, we finally get Saivon Lapsi and with the long wait after such a great album, expectations were unavoidably high.
The album Saivon Lapsi, has 12 tracks and starts off with “Saivo”, a short instrumental which offers nothing new. But the very next track, “Dark Alliance” alone sweeps away most of what the melodic and symphonic metal community has spawned in the past months! The beginning with the fast drums, ultra-melodious guitars and keyboards could just as well have been written by Nightwish and the following mix of clean and throaty death voice with the implemented melodic parts negate any suspicions of plagiarism… Already now a classic! Once cannot help but appreciate the beautiful progression which starts around 2.18. Well as expected, no EToS song is complete without a long progressive progression. This is followed by “Legion of the Beast” and “Kurra”, which gave me goosebumps. “Legion of the Beast” has one of the better openings I have heard in long time. The guitars set the pace for this song and the tempo changes as we proceed. “Kurra” on the other side has folk influenced acoustic guitars which sounds so damn beautiful. A pleasure for the ears and for the darkened soul…
Towards the end, “Kurra” combines with the next song “Dance of December” and hell yeah the opening riff gave me the rush of metal adrenaline immediately. This is truly a trademark EToS song with a good harmony of the guitar and pianos. It will sound Night-Wishy in the middle. But the similarity ends in a short while. This song is complex, but it left a feeling that made me go back and play it again and again. I wish they had combined “Kurra” and “Dance of December” into one epic song. Although the clean vocals by Jarmo Kylmänen and growling by Altti Vetelainen are both well done, the real focus on the record lies with the two axe wielders Jarmo Puolakanaho and Mika Lammassaari. Their ability to fire out blistering solos as well as technical and memorable riffs is what makes this album work. Take “The Day” and “Swan Savio” for instance, where the keyboards provide a nice technical contrast behind the shredding and the twin-guitar melodies of the chorus.
Then ETOS also fuse their sound with a harmonic piano (“Song of Silence”), add a haunting female voice (“Beneath the Frozen Leaves”) or smack your ears as with “Swan Savio”, where the speeding drums by Juho Raappana are even underlaid with a cembalo. The moment I heard “Song of Silence”, I felt that there were shades of their classic track “Bride of the Crimson Sea” where the male and female vocals were in good harmony. “Swan Savio” on the other side is technically, the most complex song of the album. Jarmo and Mika really shine on this song. The very melodious lead-guitars dominate the song and form a good contrast to Altti Veteläinen’s rough vocals.
I wasn’t expecting any dull moments after the opening track but “Blood Stained Sea” failed to stick with me. When I saw the name “Blood Stained Sea”, I was expecting something similar to “Blood of Faith”. Well I was wrong and this song totally felt repeated. The backing pianos felt dragged throughout the song.
The last track on this album is the insane “Angelheart, Ravenheart (Act III)”. This song has some history in the EToS discography. “Angelheart, Ravenheart Act I” was Epic, “Angelheart, Ravenheart Act II” was dark. Well “Angelheart, Ravenheart Act III” turned out to be the heavier track compared to the previous two versions. Hats off to Janne Tolsa for the solemn atmosphere and darkness. As we proceed there is an anticipation of a serious symphonic layer and hell yeah it blows your head off. The attempt on this album is to sound harsh, more bitter and more aggressive.
EToS have always been criticized about their quality of recording, but this time they took notes and the sound is much better. Maybe they should remaster Chaotic Beauty [I love the album]. To conclude, Eternal Tears of Sorrow have finally put their songwriting pieces together in a compelling way once again, creating an album worthy to stand beside past works like Chaotic Beauty and Children of the Dark Waters. They may never quite regain the forest-haunted melody of their old works, but if they can keep making albums this good, I for one will not complain.