Poets Of The Fall
This Finnish rock outfit have a talent for fusing haunting harmonies with soaring guitar melodies and a theatrical twist. Ghostlight, their ninth studio album, further defines their distinctive sound cultivated over a career spanning almost two decades. Bringing beautifully performed lyrics, orchestration and dynamic rhythms, along with some explosive elements, Ghostlight is a gothic delight. The production quality on this album is stunning. Opening with Firedancer, an enchanting array of thundering percussion creates a huge atmosphere. The depth of the sound is immense. Poets Of The Fall explore a range of moods throughout the tracks, Sounds Of Yesterday in particular is a soulful song with piano and orchestration enhancing the uplifting dreamy delivery. Vocalist Marko Saaresto rises into falsetto for the chorus of this track, focusing on a softer performancefor this ballad. The six-piece flourish by intertwining melodic rock with impressive soundscapesand a touch of rock ‘n’ roll vigour. Chasing Echoes is a great example of this, while Lust For Life brings a stripped back acoustic guitar and orchestral strings. Journeying through their fantasticalrealms, Ghostlight arrives at an epic conclusion in Beyond The Horizon. It’s a bewitching, dramatic track, bringing together cinematic orchestration, sound scaping and thrilling rock guitar solos. This enthralling offering from Poets Of The Fall unleashes the next chapter of their powerful compositional style. Incredibly underestimated, the gothic romance of their sound never fails to deliver and Ghostlight shows they still have so much more to give. • HR
For fans of: The Rasmus, Nightwish, Shinedown
‘Ghostlight’ by Poets Of The Fall is out now on Playground Records.
There’s no doubt that Windwaker are a familiar commodity at this point. If not them specifically, the template of an Australian band hopping on supremely polished post-hardcore taking sideways glances at nu-metal and pop definitely is, something which their breakout cover of Britney Spears’ Toxic didn’t telegraph all that much. There was more of a sly hard rock nod there, compared to Love Language which keeps it in glimpses but rarely an extensive degree. It’s more so in a hook-heavy ethos on Lucy or Me + You, But Mostly You, as big, powerful walls of production hold in an ear for a pretty sticky chorus helmed by Will King’s decently smooth vocal range. It’s those seeds of strength that’ll characterise Love Language the most, even if they’re seldom able to blossom amid some of the clunk. It rears its head initially on Dopamine Freestyle, a rap-metal track whose endpoint is clear, but frequently trips over itself to get there, something which Windwaker’s rather bespoke approach to composition in this lane won’t mask all that well. It’ll show up in the stop-start chugs of Trenches or an unfortunate return to rapping on Superstitious Fantasy, moments that sheer away the streamlining that tends to be the best course of action for albums like this. Honestly, Windwaker are markedly stronger when they embrace a similar command of scope as their contemporaries; yes, that still yields the sodden ballad of the title track that’s just as perfunctory as all examples like it, but even towards the end, a song like Hide & Seek at least curtails any momentum petering away. It’s by no means an outstanding example even then—the themes and general execution are still tied down immovably to the scene’s rubric—but it isn’t bad either, and it’s sold well enough. At the end of the day though, Windwaker simply come across as another name on an ever-growing list of modern post-hardcore that’ll get cycled through in record time, which their own shortcomings and indistinct nature will probably only speed up. To go for an analogy that invites itself, it’s more a Skyward Sword than a Wind Waker, for what that’s worth. • LN
For fans of: Hands Like Houses, Palisades, The Brave
‘Love Language’ by Windwaker is out now on Fearless Records.
How To Be Alone
All Better don’t tend to come around that often, but when they do, they know how to strike effectively. Their last release was their How It All Worked Out EP in 2018, the sort of alt-pop-punk barnstormer that could’ve really set in motion something special, had it have been capitalised on a bit more prudently. That isn’t a criticism to be held against them though, given that How To Be Alone sees them basically on the same path, and really trying to elevate the overall sound with it. The vocals do a lot of that work with as big and infused with a pop spirit as they are, and they’ll handily boost the likes of Wooden Boy or Laughing Stock Of Me to pick up some real muscle. The Britrock leanings of All Better don’t go to waste either, especially in terms of the size and sweep that’ll regularly be woven through. The album frequently sounds massive, and as arguably the most effective coalescence of its individual inspirations; there’s a sheen on here that a lot of smaller bands just don’t have, and that completely goes with the gusto on display here. Perhaps it’s a bit too emboldened at times, when the pacing does begin to crawl and some songs can often bleed together, but that’s more the album structure than a flaw of the band themselves. A bit of pruning would undoubtedly reveal a body of work that shines even brighter, certainly when the capability of that is already broadly on show. There’s still ample warmth beneath the polish in the sweeping guitars and bass, and a great showcase of how that can empower the alt-punk sound rather than restrict it. All Better aren’t as rugged or hard-bitten as a lot of their sonic forebears, but they’ll achieve similar results while creating something more intrinsic to them. That goes for the writing too, where the themes and ideas are rather familiar—in both punk and pop-punk—but are granted a deftness to thanks to more detail or interesting word choices to avoid the most glaring of similarities. On the merits of the band itself, there isn’t a tremendous amount to fault; there’s some scaling back worth doing to make the most of it, but How To Be Alone is undeniably successful at establishing All Better as players to be kept in mind. • LN
For fans of: Deaf Havana, Hot Water Music, As It Is
‘How To Be Alone’ by All Better is out now on Sugar-Free Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall (LN) and Holly Royle (HR)