Poets of the Fall is a Finnish Alternative Rock band. They're relatively unknown in the UK, despite one of their songs being used in the video game Max Payne 2. I think this is a terrible shame, Poets of the Fall (occasionally referred to in this review as 'POTF' to save me from keep typing it!) have long been a secret love of mine and I hope this review may introduce a few people to their music. (Being a bit optimistic there... But if you're even reading this, I'm grateful!)
~~~So, who are they?~~~
The Helsinki rockers are Marko Saaresto on vocals, Olli Tukiainen on guitar and Markus Kaarlonen (usually known as Captain) on the keyboard. Yeah, I can't pronounce those surnames either.
Their general sound is described as being alternative rock/alternative metal and I think this fits very well, their music has a very European rock flavour so may not be for everyone, but it works for me.
So far the band have five albums to date, starting from 2005 with the latest being released in March of this year. Carnival of Rust is the second album by Poets of the Fall.
So you've decided maybe you'd like to give the album a try. You toodle along to Amazon and find, shockingly, it retails at £30! Yeah, as I said, they're quite unknown here and so their merchandise is relatively rare. If you're interested in giving the band a try, you may do better to try digital downloads. Carnival of Rust is on Amazon downloads at £7.99 at the moment but is available elsewhere.
~~~Tell me more about the album?~~~
Carnival of Rust was released in 2006 in Finland. According to the Poets of the Fall official website it took a while to be released elsewhere and didn't reach Germany until mid 2007.
The album was in the Finnish Top 40 album charts for around 26 weeks. (Source: POTF official website).
The album cover is so eye-catching. A red and white swirly lollipop lies on a bed of leaves in the artwork. At least, it looks like a lollipop. At second glance it could be some kind of swinging pendulum... Perhaps another fan may have their own ideas?
All the songs are composed by the artists themselves, so you can rest assured this is a 'proper' band who play and write all their own music.
There's definitely a strong theme of love throughout the album, but it also ties in with loss, dystopia, religion and possibly many other themes. I suppose it does all depend on how you perceive each song - I'm a firm believer that everyone finds their own meanings in songs, and as such there could be a hundred different themes in just one piece of music. I'll try to give my own interpretation of the tracks below to give you some idea, though.
Something I particularly love about this album is the lyrics. Poets of the Fall have a knack of creating the most clever, witty lyrics. They truly are masters of wordplay in Carnival of Rust, which is possibly why they call themselves Poets...
There are a couple of downsides, but they're only slight. Firstly, a lot of the tracks on the album do sound very similar. The album's very easy to listen to as a whole, but you do notice a couple of tracks focusing on a very 'samey' theme. Secondly, despite their amazing wordsmanship, some of POTF's lyrics jar a little in the brain. Not terribly, it's just the occasional phrase doesn't sound quite right, as if it's not been seamlessly translated into English. But for a band for whom English is not their native language, the album is almost perfect and sounds beautiful regardless.
The track listing is as follows:
2. "Sorry Go 'Round"
3. "Carnival of Rust"
4. "Locking Up the Sun"
6. "King of Fools"
9. "All the Way / 4U"
11. "Maybe Tomorrow Is a Better Day (Remastered)"
If you buy the physical album you also get bonus material - the video of Carnival of Rust which is a glorious, theatrical piece of work that I personally really enjoyed. However if you download the album and still want to catch a glimpse of the music video it's on Youtube so it's easy to watch in full there, and I'd highly recommend it.
Fire ~ The album kicks off with something that starts gently but soon becomes a frenzied rock song. Fire will pull you in with its catchy chorus:
'I feel the fire flare alight inside me
Higher so I can see
N' aspire to survive this fight in spite of
Liars and travesty
Sorry Go 'Round ~ This one's immediately faster with a deeper beat. There's a deliciously dark undercurrent running through this song. Personally I think it's a song mocking society. One particular lyric says plenty: 'Everybody want's the fancy car
And we've all been told not to run too far
But everybody wants to be a rock'n'roll star'
Carnival of Rust ~ It's impossible to describe this track. If you listen to one song by Poets of the Fall, please make it this one. It's slow, deep, carnal.. it's classic rock. Some say it's about capitalism, some think it describes a disintegrating relationship.. You'll have to listen and decide for yourself with this one, folks.
'I lust for after no disaster can touch, touch us anymore
And more than ever, I hope to never fall, where enough is not the same it was before'
Locking Up the Sun ~ This track takes the tempo back up again. Strong lyrics and a great riff make this song pretty unforgettable. The theme of this song seems to be about the world searching for a hero to cure its problems, so taking another look at society here.
'Is there a hero somewhere, someone who appears and saves the day
Someone who holds out a hand and turns back time'
Gravity ~ Another classic rock song here, the catchy chorus joins an irresistible beat that seems to make my hips move every time I hear it. This one's comparing love to the force of gravity, so it takes an everyday love song and turns it into something completely different. I love it.
'Like gravity like love,
You get up after you fall
Like gravity like love
I'm not afraid anymore'
King of Fools ~ Although this is still undeniably rock, this track shows the gentler side to Poets of the Fall. Slow, lingering vocals and a steady but unassuming beat are what you'll find here. Another love song with a twist - to me, this one's about someone in love who worries they're only going to end up hurting their lover.
'Could you hold us up if I would drag us down?
Resurrect emotions from our past
N' if they had a king for fools would you wear the crown?
Build us up again and make us last'
Roses ~ This a favourite of mine. It's upbeat, yet rich in meaning somehow. I'm not sure it's about roses though ;) If you're religious, you may hear someone being converted back to their religion in this song. I'm not that way inclined, so I just hear beautiful lyrics of someone fighting their way through life.
'And so I came to gaze upon the stars, when they were yet unborn
And consequently, tear at my old scars, and the mask I had outworn'
Desire ~ No hidden meanings here, the opening words are 'This is a song about desire'. Don't keep us in suspense, will you guys? This is a simple acoustic song. It's quite beautiful, but it's not one of my favourites.
'Kill sweet desire, faith may numb the trial, but can you run all your life'
All the Way 4 U ~ Another acoustic song about love here. But this is beautiful in its own simplicity. I interpret this one as being about unconditional love - no matter what, they're going to love and support you. This could be seen as someone supporting their partner through some kind of illness or problem, but either way, it's lovely.
'You know, you're not alone, don't be alarmed
I'll find you no matter where you are'
Delicious ~ This track lifts the tempo back up again with a song about dark and decadent love. I'll admit it, I'm not too keen on this song, the lyrics are quite appealing but it's just not as catchy of some of the tunes it follows.
'Fictitious and so real
Love's a onetime deal
With a delicious dark appeal'
Maybe Tomorrow Is a Better Day ~ You'll find quite a steady and melancholy song here. The witty lyrics continue as through the entire album. I feel sure this track is about a lover reflecting on an argument, hoping that things will get better and the relationship can be saved. Markus, the vocalist tells us this song is about hope and true to his word it does end on quite a positive note.
'I do not deal the cards and I play a lousy hand
I celebrate no victories and my promises are sand'
Dawn ~ This is such a beautiful end to a beautiful album. A gentle, slow song about loss, mourning and yet carrying on. This strikes a particular chord with me (if you pardon the pun!) due to losing someone close to me, and I personally find this a moving and uplifting song. I'd say if you've ever felt grief, whether it's from a death or just the end of a relationship, you'll find yourself moved by this song.
'A new light is warm, shining down on you after the storm
Don't mourn what is gone, greet the dawn'
~~~Please wrap this review up, it's gone on long enough!~~~
OK, sorry ;)
Thanks for reading :)
Poets Of The Fall, coming from the Country Of Rock (aka Finland), consists of:
*Marko "Mark" Saaresto- Vocals & lyrics.
*Olli Tukiainen- Lead Guitar
* Markus "Captain" Kaarlonen- Keyboards & production.
And on set are joined by
*Jani Snellman- Bass Guitar
*Jaska Mäkinen- Rhythm guitar
*Jari Salminen- Drums, percussion
~*~ Introducing Hell's Poets ~*~*
I say this because they are from Helsinki but also perhaps because beautiful poetry comes from the darkest of situations..
The cover of the CD promotes the band well. It's like the first time you go to a fairground and no matter how hard your parents try to distract you with this "exciting" ride, all you can think about is getting your hands on that HUGE colourful lolly. It's intriguing. It stands out. And you just HAVE to try it. Similarly, If you appreciate clever, well written lyrics, then this CD is a must have to your collection. The fact that Marko can write like this in a language which is not his native, is amazing. For this reason, I will pick a favourite lyric for each song.
~*~* Track by Track Rating ~*~*
1- Fire- 8/10- A pure rock song; with guitars building up anticipation from the second it starts, accompanying Marko's smooth but hard-hitting vocals, and with the cracking chorus, it's also the perfect song for a live show full of energy. Favourite lyric: "finally the cerebral fantasy, better genes and machines, so we can die looking like we're teens, like snapshot scenes in smithereens..."
2- Sorry Go 'Round- 8/10 : Did I mention that there was a darker, - perhaps a little more distasteful side to this lolly pop? Favourite lyric: "Oh, the things you see makes arrogance seem the way to be, yeah, when ignorance spreads conformity."
3- Carnival Of Rust 9/10: The title track; this song is full of drama, love, heartbreak, beautiful vocals and rather sound-track like music. (The cleverly made video for this was remixed and has actually won awards recently.) Favourite lyric: "when true colours will bleed, All in the name of misbehaviour and the things we don't need."
4- Locking Up The Sun- 10/10 : A song that I'm sure everyone can relate to and is rather perfect for those off days. Here Marko uses the metaphor of a sinking ship, you have to listen to get the message of the story. Favourite lyric: "And in the emptiness, there's a solution, just look within yourself for absolution."
5- Gravity- 8/10 Another one of Poet's rockier hits, a real feel good song, but is just one of those that you have to be in the mood to listen to. Favourite lyric: "Typical of me, that I concentrate on the destination so much that I miss the journey there and back."
6-King Of Fools- 9/10- One of their softer, more poetic songs, this is one of my favourites of the album. Favourite lyric: "If what I feel is the only truth, And what I give out will make up what I'll receive, Can I still leave behind my naiveté of youth?"
7-Roses 8/10- Not quite as romantic lyrically as you'd expect, which is slightly ironic considering the smooth calm beat of the track. It's more of a song of hope and definitely worth a listen. Favourite lyric: "I bought a book of rules for every coin that I could steal."
8- Desire 7/10- An acoustic song, beautifully done with moving lyrics, but not one I tend to listen to often. Favourite lyric: "What never moves, is never still, who has the final word?"
9-All the Way / 4U 10/10- Not quite sure why they use text speak here, but anyway...another mostly acoustic song from the view point of a man who doesn't quite understand his woman. The finale of this song is beautiful with piano and Marko's voice sounding particularly powerful. Favourite lyric: "That the place where I am is never far, You know, you're not alone, don't be alarmed."
10-Delicious- 9/10- I love this track but it's rather difficult to describe, so I'll leave it to you to form an opinion. Favourite lyric: "You don't hear the symphony I hear, We don't get a dollar bill for every shining tear."
11-Maybe Tomorrow Is A Better Day- 8/10, a rather sad track but beautiful never-the-less. Favourite Lyric: "This day will die tonight and there ain't no exception, Why should I wait for nothing to wait for."
12-Dawn-7/10 A rather impressive ending for this great album and this song particularly carries an inspiring message. Favourite lyric: "Remembrance, can be a sentence, but it comes to you with a second chance in tow."
~*~* Conclusion ~*~*
I obviously think you should check out this album. Admittedly, this album seems to have been "rusting" away without me listening to it lately but pulling it out to review has made me remember just how wonderful this band is :)
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Sorry Go 'Round
3 Carnival of Rust
4 Looking Up the Sun
6 King of Fools
9 All the Way
11 Maybe Tomorrow Is a Better Day
13 Carnival of Rust [Multimedia Track]