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Internal sojourn through moon-bathed landscapes - 85%

autothrall, June 3rd, 2009

Yearning is just one of those survivor bands: their releases continue to arrive across the years, but with little fanfare. The line-up has been stripped to just multi-instrumentalist Juhani Palomäki these days, but was once a pretty functional, full band. A lot of you might know Juhani from his more recent band, Colosseum. I should also point out that all of their albums have been good. The core crooning and flowing melodic gothic/folk/doom of With Tragedies Adorned (debut) had been highly refined by the point of 2001's 'Frore Meadow', and this particular album stands as my favorite release from the group.

I'd urge the listener to take a long look at the cover art, focus in on the visions of pale moon-bathed landscapes and take an internal sojourn through fantastic forests. A soundtrack has been provided to dive into such activities. "Bleak" opens the tale with a driving stream of melancholic chords which should be an immediate turn-on for any fan of mid-period Katatonia, Rapture, or Daylight Dies. The vocals employed carrier a folksier edge than those bands, but the structure is similar. The forward momentum of its metallic riffs is often broken by brief melodic interviews using synths, acoustics, etc, but it comes together nicely. "Solitary" employs a dour acoustic melody below the verse, becoming metallic only later in the piece. "Autumn" is an EXCELLENT track, the best on this album and perhaps my favorite Yearning composition period. A melody both glorious and creepy soars over a sequence of chugging, slowed gothic/doom guitars. The vocals are perfect on this track, and it's ever sliding down the downward spiral of despair it creates. This would be difficult to follow-up, but "The Fall" is also quite good, with its deep vocal tones ringing over the driving, catchy chords. "Years of Pain" is an extended piano/synth piece which creates a worthwhile vista amidsts its metal brethren.

Next, the album trots out a trio of shorter tunes. "Forsaken" starts with a nice clicky drum beat. "Frore Meadow" is a beautiful instrumental with some synthesized flutes. "The Race" has a nice vocal melody to it. "Elegy of Blood" picks up in length, a flowing gothic doom track with some scintillating pipe organ tones, mostly instrumental though Juhani's distinct throat erupts in the middle. "In Strange Slowfooted Fever" is another piano/synth track, with a soundtrack feel to it, think Danny Elfman but with Juhani's vocals present. The album closes with a long but sweet dark ambient piece, the rumbling "Disappearance".

While there is nothing actually bad here, I do wish the focus had been on the songs like "Autumn" or "The Race". It seems much of the 2nd half of the album consists of instrumentals or shorter songs, shall we say more 'experimental' than anything they had done before this. Granted, I enjoyed each of these tracks, but it feels like a loss of momentum. "Autumn" is just such a great song. Pound for pound, 'Frore Meadow' is still my favorite full-length from this underappreciated Finnish band. Despite the often irregularity of its components, its still a distinct and creative vision that I have enjoyed down through the years. The album sounds great whether its striding along in gothic metal grace or luch synth work.