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This album is a bit of a weird one. This is my attempt to give a ballpark reference: a sort of easygoing yet eccentric non-gothic gothic rock with a melodic death metal influence and folky ambiguity. It's rock and metal, that much is sure, but everything else is left to the band to decide. That isn't entirely to the detriment of this album though, since there is also a weird sense of humour at play in the lyrics and songtitles - let me point you in the direction of 'Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside' and 'Security Locks Are Good' or the audible throat-clearing in 'Guilt Threat'.
The vocalist generally brings an air of oddness to the album, since not only are the lyrics strange (try the "other" lyrics in the booklet too, that are even more bizarre and don't match what he actually sings) but his voice is unconventional, sometimes distorting the words to the point of obscurity even though most of the vocals are clean and melodic. It's a bit like having a good strong rock voice not dissimilar to Sentenced's Ville Laihiala, but always having a mouthful of food or a burnt tongue. Maybe he has a speech impediment similar to Tomas Lindberg (a great reason to revisit 'Slaughter of the Soul' if you haven't noticed his lisp) that doesn't exactly make him sound annoying - it's actually pretty distinctive. I've patched together the actual lyrics from what I can hear and what's in the booklet, and I must say there isn't another metal album that takes on normality quite as well as this. Yeah, you read that right, the lyrics are weird because they're about normal things, and that's not normal in terms of love, life, death, but really normal things like sitting in a waiting room or looking out of the window at passers-by. It's a really interesting take on heavy music and stamps the album with a unique flavour.
The general sound of the band is a little less distinctive, as suggested by my failure to pigeonhole them. For a heavy metal album, 'Volvere' is a little gentle in places and can meander sometimes, though the softer parts of the music are engaging. The lyrics shine through stronger at these moments and, although the drummer isn't really up to much, the bass has a strong place in the mix, rolling and exploring the spaces left by the guitars. The band also have a pretty cool ear for melody, which comes across strongly in a song like 'Enemy Simulator'. The bass lilts and swoons, while little shimmering keyboards unobtrusively glide to the front of the picture and muted guitar melodies flit in and out of hearing. They change mood and tempo quite quickly, which might be a problem for some bands, but the transitions are so smooth and playful that it actually seems to make sense not to stay too attached to any particular part or style. The only difficulty is that, in the free flow of ideas, repeating parts can become lost and choruses slightly lose their impact.
'Volvere' doesn't have any particularly weak songs, but the most interesting ideas fill the first two thirds of the album, while the last four songs slip into a more melancholy lull. On the other hand, there aren't any songs that stand out as definite highlights. 'Pillar of the Sun' is probably heaviest on here and has a powerful shout-along chorus; 'Hell's Silence' is catchy and sinuous, without ever becoming complicated; 'More Like a Situation' pulls out a fantastic melody that Sentenced would have killed for in 2004. I know, I'm comparing Fall of the Leafe to Sentenced again, but it's really difficult to think of any direct peers for this band, which might be one reason they never really took off in the way they could have. With a bit of publicity and a couple of singles, Fall of the Leafe could have been something great. As it is, they left behind this - a completely unique, fun, and challenging album that was pretty darn good, if not quite essential.
Folk Metal, Goth Metal, Melodic Death, Rock Metal; any of these could be applied to "Volvere" at times. But none of them are really enough to encompass the sound of the album. Fall of the Leafe, a seldom mentioned and strangely named band from Finland, have, in this release, put out something that is exhilerating, varied, and refreshingly different from most of the albums being put out these days in the metal scene.
There is something to remark about in almost every element of the album. The rhythm section keeps one's attention, even while playing mostly straight-four beats. The heavy, crunchy rhythm guitar creates a distinct contrast from the smoother, more ethereal lead. The keyboard lines add an atmospheric touch to the songs. The vocals add an interesting touch of rock and roll to the mix. The songs themselves are varied in feel and flavor, from harder rockers "Pillar of the Sun" and "Cut the Smoke" to lighter, airier pieces like "Enemy Simulator" and "More Like a Situation." In short, this album is definitely worth checking out as a new and in general very good sort of sound, with elements of many diverse styles.
As an aside, I would like to add that Fall of the Leafe are definitely a band for fans of amusing song titles. I did giggle a bit when reading the names "Big Ol' Fat Rain Inside" and "Security Locks Are Good."
So right here we have Fall Of The Leafe, a pretty unknown band I had never heard of before. Volvere is the 4th album of this Folk/Gothic metal band. I listened to this a few times a few days ago, and I listened to it again a few times in early February, and once again in late February, just to be 100% about my opinion, and to be honest, I didn't like this album at all. The first thing that struck me upon the listening of this album is the lack of heaviness. But I also dislike the vocals, which sound like an average rock band, and the drums, which feature some of the most simple beats I've ever heard.
Ok, I'll just take the song "Guilt Threat" for example. The opening riff is generic and feels quite uninspired, and the simple drum is there. I expected a little drum fill or something of the type before the opening chorus, but nope. The drummer keeps things as simple as can be, and that doesn't please me at all. The riff in the chorus is just an average "I've-heard-this-many-times-before" type of riff, if you see what I mean. I mean that the chorus guitar riff (and almost all the riffs on this song/album) does absolutely nothing to stand out of the crowd. But I'll admit that there are some pretty nice drum beats in the third verse. The vocals sound, like I mentionned before, like an average rock band type of thing. The sad thing about this album is that while there are certain parts with some talented riff work and so, none of them show any sign of originality or diversity. In fact, some people may find this album lovely, but Volvere just doesn't do it for me.
There is one lovely song on this album though, a song that impressed me the first times I heard it, and yet it still sounds as catchy and interesting as back then.That song is "Hell's Silence" It starts with the aforementionned simple drum beat (but it actually fits this time), with 2 acoustic guitars playing simple chord progressions with nice little catchy melodies. What's so good about that?, you ask. Well, it's one of those songs that you just find really catchy for no particular. Both the acoustic AND heavy riffs in this song show signs of originality, and the vocals don't sound nearly as bad the ones featured on the other tracks of this album.
Apart from "Hell's Silence", this album gave me a pretty weak impression every time I heard it, but that's probably because I don't really dig this type of music. I'm sure there's people out there who find this album lovely, but no for me.