about%20-%20jpg.jpg reviews%20-%20jpg.jpg interviews%20-%20jpg.jpg gigs%20-%20jpg.jpg cd_review_treesofeternity_hourofthenightingale001006.jpg
Formed seven years ago as a collaboration between singer Aleah Starbridge and Swallow the Sun's guitarist/songwriter Juha Raivio, Trees of Eternity began life as a gentle, acoustic project. It wasn't until 2013 before they expanded their duo into a fully-fledged band, by recruiting two ex-Katatonia members - guitarist Fredrik Norman and bassist Mattias Norman - and Wintersun's Kai Hahto (also current live session drummer for symphonic metal superstars Nightwish) to take on sticksman duties. That's quite a lineup of talent, and 'Hour of the Nightingale' is the quintet's debut album. However, it's being released with bittersweet sentiments for the band as Aleah tragically passed away in April this year at the all too young age of 39. Ultimately, though, as Raivio states: "This is a celebration of the music, lyrics and life of Aleah...", so it's a vastly important release to honour the memory and talent of the band's singer, who was also Raivio's life partner and soul-mate.

Sentiments aside for a moment, as I believe it's respectful to consider the album on its own merits, and this is most definitely a slow burner and a grower. Carrying a laid-back vibe throughout, at least on the surface within the context of its down-tempo compositions, it's not until multiple listens that the album's true beauty starts to reveal itself. And, when it does, it reveals itself to be a work of profound sublimity - majestic in its conception; ethereal and emotionally moving in its execution. Clean guitar-led passages give way to distorted chords and, while it initially seems that the album lacks any kind of crescendos or emotional punch, the former would be misplaced within its exquisitely conceived sonics, and I've found myself becoming more and more emotionally connected to, and moved by, the songs on each new listen. So, yes, the music reveals itself to have emotional punch aplenty over time.

The album also has a mesmeric grip throughout. That's largely thanks to Aleah's truly compelling vocal performance, which is seemingly laidback at first and, dare I say, verging on lackadaisical upon initial listen. There are no vocal histrionics here; no overly sung passages; no powerful deliveries. And there doesn't need to be. Aleah's voice, together with the music, is powerful in its own emotively profound space. The power is derived from the sincerity and depth of emotions that she manages to convey through her sublimely ethereal voice. So, yes, lackadaisical this most definitely is not. It just needs some time to invest in allowing the music and Aleah's vocals to touch your very being... which is the precise affect this has had on me after a few listens. The album also has a couple of guest spots in the form of Mick Moss from Antimatter and Paradise Lost's Nick Holmes, with the latter lending his distinct clean voice to the album closer, 'Gallows Bird'.

Recorded, produced, mixed and mastered by the super talented Jens Bogren, 'Hour of the Nightingale' sounds every bit as fantastic as you'd expect, and the Fascination Street Studios mainman has done full justice to Trees of Eternity's music. And it's music which, as I've already noted, takes a degree of time to reveal the genuine beauty at its core, for this is an incredibly alluring, elegant and moving work. I can't even begin to imagine the heartbreak Raivio has experienced, and is no doubt still feeling and will continue to feel for a long time, with the loss of Aleah. 2016 has been a cruel year for many different reasons so it's important to "celebrate", as the man himself has said, the beautiful art that Aleah has left for the world to experience.
Svart Records
Review by Mark Holmes
11th Nov 2016
1) My Requiem
2) Eye of Night
3) Condemned to Silence
4) A Million Tears
5) Hour of the Nightingale
6) The Passage
7) Broken Mirror
8) Black Ocean
9) Sinking Ships
10) Gallows Bird
"...it reveals itself to be a work of profound sublimity - majestic in its conception; ethereal and emotionally moving in its execution."