Probably more than any genre I know, metal has been the one to change the most over the course of my many years listening to music. The melodic, sonic charges of the early bands, classic metal I guess, always made up part of my intake but as the fashion for more brutal, screaming, guttural intensity took hold, it was a musical pasture I wandered less and less often.
But there has always remained one small corner of that musical field that I still made time to visit, that of the emotive, symphonic and haunting sub-genre. Gothic metal? Doom metal? Call it what you will, Trees of Eternity are just the latest reason to revel in its dark beauty.
Despite the loss of their singer, Aleah Starbridge, her surviving partner, Juha Raivio and the rest of the band, Mattias and Fredrik Norrman (Katatonia, October Tide) and Kai Hahto (Swallow The Sun, Wintersun) made the decision to put out their last album with her on the Svart label as a way of honouring the impressive body of work she left behind, the perfect elegy to her untimely death. The bittersweet new album, Hour of the Nightingale will be released on 11th November.
It is in such regions that metal comes closest to classical music and here the dark majesty of the likes of Wagner are writ large across a sonic canvas, but the doom-laden music themes also encroach on the star-crossed romance of goth and even the lush soundscaping more associated with dreampop. But at its core it has all the trappings of the rock and metal you would expect and flashes of white hot guitar, pulsing back beats and dynamic interplays that take the songs from gentle introspection to heart wrenching drama and back again are all hard at work.
As a tribute to their dear departed singer it is a fantastic legacy, an album which combines grace and grandeur, matches depth and delicacy with accessibility and muscle and if there is one sub-genre of the complex metal muso-political machine that I still hold a torch for, Trees of Eternity sit at its very heart.