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Worth it for Trav Smith's pretty paintings? - 72%

joncheetham88, November 21st, 2009

In honesty, I prefer the artwork for this single to what ended up on Children of the Dark Waters. That album cover ended up fine, but Travis Smith really outdid himself here for use of colour and focus. It's hardly original and doesn't really mean anything, the man just has a flair for pretty pictures.

Anyway. The single contains two songs, the eponymous A-side and a re-recording of the title track from their 1998 album Vilda Mánnu. Ever since their breakthrough gothic album Chaotic Beauty, the band has included at least one piano or synth-led melodic metal song as the third tracks of their albums, in place of what would have been singles had they enjoyed such promotion. 'Tears of Autumn Rain' follows firmly in the tradition of 'Autumn's Grief', 'Prophetian', and 'Red Dawn Rising.' Essentially, it combines the power metal energy of the latter with the sorrowful strains of 'Autumn's Grief.'

The keyboard melody that drives the central theme of the song instantly identifies which band is playing, but the centrepiece is the emotional choral section which serves as the chorus. While 'Red Dawn Rising' was endorsed by Finnish luminaries Marco Hietala and Tony Kakko, Jarmo Kylmanen and Miriam Renvag put in a smooth and powerful performance here. It's damn catchy and with just the right amount of grief to mark it as the ultimate expression of Eternal Tears of Sorrow's progression past the thrash metal of their earliest days, the black/ death metal of their first albums and the gothic sound they explored more recently into an eclectic power metal group. Also, the solo kicks arse, believe it or not.

'Vilda Mánnu' is the flipside of the coin. Some groups decline in quality as they reach out to other genres, while others maintain their quality throughout all their experimentation (Therion, for example). Eternal Tears are a third kind: their earliest albums were pretty weak, and they only began to come into their own with Chaotic Beauty. The B-side is taken from those early days, and features fairly blackened riffs over double-kick drumming, with repetitive, gloomy melodies dominating the song. Not much has changed since the original.

While he always provides a decent contrast to the numerous guest vocalists the band works with, Altti Veteläinen doesn't really impress here. His rasps are too watered down and truncated, with no real fury or torture infecting the delivery. The track itself plays well, and works as a contrast to the single itself, giving the impression the band somehow managed to record a split single with themselves from the past.

This single can't really score that highly; although it contains one brilliant track, and one that isn't found on any of the editions of Children of the Dark Waters, the former is found on the album, owners of which needn't invest in this.