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Where Angels Fall - Redemption

Where Angels Fall - CD Review




CD Info
10 Tracks
English Lyrics

I have long been a huge fan of Where Angels Fall, a Gothic metal quartet who are the pride of Oslo, Norway.  I first came across them on Last.fm quite randomly; the song was "Kyrie", from their 2008 album Marionettes.  Preceded by 2006's Illuminate and 2004's EP, Dies Irae, Marionettes fast became a favourite of mine as did the band.  We haven't heard from Where Angels Fall since that 2008 release, but finally, this winter, the long wait between albums came to an end, and Redemption was released - and it was one of my most anticipated albums of 2014.  Did it stack up?  Why yes it did, and now that I've finally spun it a few times, I can honestly declare that this will wind up on my top 10 releases of 2014.

Where Angels Fall have always produced very image-rich music with a straightforward, yet subtly powerful, sound to back it all up.  One of their strengths, in my opinion, is how their very vivid lyrics are brought to life through their ability to translate the emotion they convey in their lyrics into their music.  Eirin Bendigtsen is not only the lead vocalist but also the band's lyricist, and in Redemption she did another super job of penning brilliant imagery but also providing the atmospheric vocal chops to create some spine-chilling music.  Combined with that and backed by eerie but melodic keyboard arrangements, as well as tight riffing performed by the two guitarists Andre Bendigtsen and Kristian Svenning, Where Angels Fall have produced in Redemption a savagely dark CD, that despite it's title, shows little light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

Redemption is fantastic in that it positively drips with a sense of hopelessness and despair, panic and abandonment.  I'm used to pretty dark stuff from this band, but this is their darkest effort yet. Even the album art inside the booklet is bleak, with illustrations of a man in a straight jacket, and an image of Eirin chained to a bare wall, screaming.  The picture that accompanies "Words Unspoken" shows Eirin's lips either pierced or roughly sewn shut, dripping blood.  This release definitely has the whole package going for it: the words, the images, and the atmospheric music.

As with previous albums, Marionettes in particular, there is a bit of timely social commentary present in Redemption.  The song "Thinspiration" is one example. This verse is chilling:

"Standing strong like tempered steel
Cold surface, hard core
Deny myself the fix my body craves
Run to keep my abstinence away
Worshipping the image of a wraith
The beauty of the clingskin over bones..."

I interpret this song as an indictment of the pressure women are under to be thin and equating thinness to beauty, some of them so much under this spell that they develop an eating disorder.  This song kind of reminds me of the spirit of one of my favourite Where Angels Fall tunes, "Female Stigma", which appeared on Marionettes.  (You can listen to it here.)  It's basically an anthem about female inequality and the pressure to conform to a male-dominated society.  It's pretty feminist stuff, and I thought that "Thinspiration" had a similar vibe to it.

Other songs I really thought were strong were "Senseless", the first single (video here), "Victim", which had a nice and ominous symphonic line-through that lent the song a more theatrical air, "Mothmother", which made me quite sad, and the album's finale, "Unbroken", one of the faster, catchier song on Redemption. I also really liked the opener, "Beyond Repair"; it sets the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the album very well, like an ominous prologue.

Overall, I liked the sense of irony this album produces in the mind of the listener:  it really causes one to think: Redemption?  What are they talking about?  There is no such thing,

But the band, after six years between albums, has redeemed itself for it's long lay-off by producing something quite remarkable with Redemption. Take a look into its depths; you will find plenty to keep your mind buzzing.