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Fallen Arise - Adeline

Fallen Arise - CD Review




CD Info
Album: Adeline
Artist: Fallen Arise
Genre: Symphonic/gothic metal
Label: Rock of Angels Records
Language: English
Tracks: 13 Total time: 57:39
Rating: 8 of 10


Upon their formation in 2009, Greece’s Fallen Arise has gone through several lineup changes, including more than one change of vocalists. But once female vocalist Spyla joined in 2012, Fallen Arise had found their voice and were ready to go. An EP was released with their previous singer, but 2013 saw their full-length debut, as well as the addition of their newest male vocalist, Christos. Now that the lineup was intact, it was time to get back to work and make a follow-up record.

For their second offering, Fallen Arise wanted to do something a little more ambitious, and opted to make a concept album; which, if you really think about it, isn’t too unusual in this day and age, and especially in their genre. But because there are so many concept albums out there, the question is whether or not a band can come up with a story unique enough to catch the listener’s attention, but also consistent enough to hold it for the length of the album.

The album was called Adeline, and story revolving around the titular character involved a terrible death curse placed upon her, which would take effect on the day she turned 18 years old. Set in the Victorian era of the 19th century, Adeline has the perfect gothic backdrop. Now it was time to let the music tell the tale…

(Note: Possible spoilers may abound during this review, so be warned!)

“Prologue in D Minor”: The music starts off with the melodious chime of a music box, and slow, mournful violin as the narrator tells us the story of a young girl named Adeline, who lived a happy life in the forest with her family. But then, a tragic curse doomed her fate: on her 18th birthday, Adeline would die.

“The Curse of Adeline”: The synths on this track are very “futuristic”, for all that the story is supposed to take place in the 19th century. The music is tight; with churning guitars and pounding drums to match the quickness of the keyboard work. Spyla’s voice is throaty and deep-pitched, and Christos is your typical guttural voice, screaming alongside her. There are voice actors, and the voice of Adeline explains that she is “in agony over this curse”, but listening to the song, I cannot quite tell how or why this curse was placed on her, or what it is supposed to accomplish. Trying to find lyrics for the song has brought up nothing.

“We’re Becoming Gods”: Christos’ “clean” vocals are a bit reminiscent of Andrea Ferro on this track, but not as rough around the edges. I actually prefer his voice this way, and would like to hear him sing more in this style. Musically, this is one of my favorites so far. Story-wise, from what I can gather of the lyrics, it appears that Adeline is questioning what death is like and how it will be when her end comes.

“Divine Bride”: Very bombastic and sweeping in its execution, this 7+-minute epic is quintessential gothic/symphonic metal. There are strings, there are horns, there are beauty-and-the-beast vocals, and there is a tragic love story all wound up within the music. Parts of the instrumental section are reminiscent of “Ghost Love Score” by Nightwish, to give you an idea of what it sounds like.

“Silent Weeping”: The beginning of this song reminds me a great deal of Kamelot; fast-paced and building up to some aggressive male vocals. From what I can understand of the lyrics, it sounds like it might be telling how and why the curse was placed on Adeline. It seems to have something to do with a woman and child who were out in the cold and begged for shelter (possibly from Adeline’s family?) and were refused, therefore the woman swore revenge because “my child had froze, while yours was warm”.

“The Heart of the Damned”: The dramatic bombast builds as the story unfolds; Christos’ growly vocals carry the first part of the song as he and Spyla duet back and forth the doomed tale of two young lovers. The narrator (possibly the male character in the story) begs for the curse to be broken, or to have the strength to “face the darkness”.

“My Last Breath”: The first single from the album, and it’s a fitting choice: it’s got a catchy chorus, and it encapsulates the overall theme of the album without giving away major plot points or having to explain a lot of the backstory thus far. Story-wise, Adeline wishes that she could have more time, but has accepted that her fate cannot be changed, but she’ll keep holding on “until my last breath”.

“White Crystal Angel”: Damn, this song is really reminiscent of Kamelot! I almost expect Roy Khan or Tommy Karevik to jump out and start singing! At this point in the story, midnight has struck on the eve of Adeline’s birthday, and the time has come. This song seems to be Adeline’s prayer that her soul will ascend to heaven. “When daylight comes, I’ll be far away…Never forget my face and my words…” This is the second single from the album, and if you watch the music video to the song, you will see the character of Adeline jerking spasmodically in her bed in the throes of death, but it looks rather awkward! However, we can tell either by listening to the song or by watching the video that at this point in the story, Adeline’s curse has claimed her.

“Funeral”: A small intro piece, the title pretty much says it all as to what happened: Adeline is dead, and her mother is in denial, as her father urges his wife to leave. Adeline’s mother is distraught at leaving their child alone, and insists that they stay with her. The screams of Adeline’s mother as the pallbearers come to take Adeline away is the last thing we hear as the cadent drumbeats take over in a tragic funeral march.

“Music Box”: This is another short intro; it appears to be a flashback to when Adeline’s mother gave her a gift that was passed down from mother to daughter for generations. You can hear the titular music box chiming over the voices of Adeline and her mother. When the mother says “it will help you rest, dream peacefully”, it is questionable as to whether this is actually a flashback, or if Adeline’s mother is imagining this scenario in her mind, especially after she expresses how much she misses her daughter.

“As Far as the Memory Remains”: A heart-stirring ballad, this song appears to be told through the viewpoint of Adeline’s spirit, who watches her parents grieving for her from the afterlife. All her things are still there, untouched, while her mother cries and her father just stands at the window. The chorus is a little heavier, as though we are hearing Adeline’s anger at having died, and all the things that have changed because of her death.

“Oceans of Time”: The sounds of waves crashing, and lovely pianos open up the penultimate track, and Christos’ clean vocals sing of a tortured soul (probably Adeline’s lost love). Standing by the sea, he feels hopeless “now that everything is lost”. Reference to Adeline’s last words, which were hinted at a few songs back, now we can hear them being sung. (You don’t think I’ll give that away, do you?) The song ends on some hauntingly beautiful piano and strings.

“Epilogue”: A short instrumental track with the same cadent drum beat as in the funeral song, only now Spyla joins in with her full-on operatic vocals. I will just leave it to you, the listener, to find out whether or not there is anything here that resolves the story or explains any last-minute plot points!

Overall opinion: Joining the ranks of modern-day progressive/symphonic concept albums such as Silverthorn or Mercy Falls, Adeline is an interesting story; however, a main problem I see with a lot of these concept albums is in the delivery. Too often these concept albums start out with the first few songs carrying the story rather well, and then getting bored with itself towards the middle (i.e., a handful of songs that don’t really explain anything or move the story in any way), and then quickly tacking on a few short pieces at the end to pull the plot together or provide some kind of resolution. So many concept albums out there that seem so promising (either musically or story-wise) seem to suffer from this difficulty.

Another problem I hear in these albums is how they rely so heavily on voice actors to carry the story. While it seems like a good idea, I seldom ever hear it carried out properly. I don’t know if it’s because we don’t live in an era where voice-acting is as imperative as it was back in the days before television came along and people listened to serials on the radio, but too often the voice-acting on these concept albums sounds hollow and awkward. This is no fault of the bands; they can only make do with the means they have, and a lot of the time these “voice actors” are no more than family or friends willing to do a favor and read words on a sheet of paper.

That being said, Adeline is still a pretty solid record, both musically and thematically. The story moves along from each song, although frankly I think it could have done without the two short pieces in the middle with the voice-acting. “Funeral” could have gotten the same point across just as an instrumental piece; the tapping of the drums was reminiscent of a funeral march, and the church bells ringing would have been indicative to any listener what has happened. While “Music Box” was touching in its intent, I think overall that song could have been scrapped altogether; story-wise it really added nothing to the overall plot (unless there is something I’m missing in the lyrics that I cannot hear). Because of the wooden delivery of the voice actors, you are not really sure if the scene between Adeline and her mother is a flashback from earlier days (i.e., Adeline’s mother reliving her memories), or if it is a made-up scenario played out in the mind of Adeline’s mother (i.e., wishing that Adeline hadn’t died so she could give her the music box). I get that it’s supposed to be a setup to the following song, which explains the deep grief of Adeline’s parents after her passing, but I think that song does a fine job of hammering that point home without any accompaniments.

For all its minor flaws, however, Adeline is not a bad concept album. (Though, if I might make one more small gripe: what is it with all these concept albums taking place in the 1800s? Is there a particular reason these stories have to take place then? What is it in the story that is happening that couldn’t happen in the 1930s, the 1980s, or even right now? OK, I digress…) The story is interesting, and from what I could understand of the lyrics (not having a lyric booklet on hand), it appears that things are explained as to why a curse was placed on the title character; it wasn’t just a giant plot hole left as something for listeners to just take on face value and “use their imaginations”. The overall atmosphere of the album’s sound and theme is pure gothic horror: a young teenage girl in fear for her life, an evil curse, and a love that was doomed from the start.

Musically, Fallen Arise clearly has influences all throughout symphonic and gothic metal, but they are also clearly forging their own identities too. Vocally, Spyla reminds me a lot of Helen from Flowing Tears: a more throaty, deep-pitched voice, but surprises you at the end with those sweet high notes of hers. Their male vocalist, Christos, was a little too growly for my liking, but his clean vocals were very good and I was sorry not to hear more of those. The band is well-rounded, knows how to set the mood of the song according to its place in the story, and goes about creating that ambiance. For a second album, I would say Fallen Arise has done well for themselves!

If you are new to the symphonic metal scene, or if you are fan of bands like Nightwish, Within Temptation, Tristania, or Macbeth; it might be worth your while to check out Fallen Arise. They’ve got a lot of what it takes to become some real break-outs on the scene with Adeline, and if something this creative is what they’ve got up their sleeve just on their second try, then the third album promises to be something quite special. I can only imagine what they will do next!

Fallen Arise
Special thanks to Costa Miccas of The Metal Syndicate 

For more information on Fallen Arise, visit their website