As the Sun Falls
Where the Silence Reigns EP

GUYS! Can you feel it?! That icy, bitter chill in the air signaling that the misery of sweaty backs and swamp ass are coming to a merciful end? Long sleeves and layers, comfortable sleeping, the invigorating slap of northern air as you step out the door in the morning – it’s all coming, my friends. I just fired up the wood stove for the first time of the season last weekend! I spent all day in the kitchen making soup and homemade marinara and meatballs while a cold, biting rain slapped at the windowsill. It was fucking glorious.

That’s right folks, WE’RE TALKING VIBES. And for the flannels and sweaters and soups and stews and everything meant to bring cozy warmth to your life as winter creeps ever closer, there must of course be balance. There must be a celebration of cold, bone-chilling gloom, of grey skies and a world gone to slumber. It’s time, of course, to check in with our Finnish masters of all things melancholy, somber and sobering. It’s Doom and Melodeath season, ya’ll! And just in time to say “Hyvää päivää!” come one of Finland’s more recent examples of Melancholic Melodeth expertise, As The Sun Falls.

Even for those unfamiliar with the band’s first few offerings (a couple EPs and a full-length since their 2020 debut), I promise you already know what’s coming here. The likes of InsomniumBefore the Dawn (or anything Tuomas Saukkonen-related), Dark the Suns – you know the sound. You know the mix of heavy, oppressive riffs and epic, uplifting melodies. The mix of meek and mighty, of dark and light in a way that only the Finns can truly deliver. It’s in their  DNA, built from the foundations laid by Sentenced and Eternal Tears of Sorrow. You may even ask (perhaps fairly), “Do we need another band like this?” Need? Probably no. Want? Yeah. I can’t help myself.

Starting with “The Wanderer,” you find out right away that As The Sun Falls 100% understood the assignment, coming out the gate with a beautiful acoustic guitar melody that sets a scene like a snow-covered valley, before the electric guitars come soaring in with prototypically epic Finnish flair which, paired with Vocalist Mikko Voutilainen’s first of many bellowing roars, hits with the fury of a massive, surprise blizzard. While Voutilainen’s vocal approach may be a bit one-dimensional, his cavernous growls certainly fit the bill, with impressive control allowing him to sustain notes to accentuate every emotional high and low along the way. He does belt out a few higher-register screams that sound fantastic, and given their more sparing use, they do help to really pack an emotional punch every time they’re deployed.

But of course, it’s the lead guitars really setting the tone of these tracks. The lead melody of the opening track feels dreadfully mournful in the best possible sense. Where similar bands will often go high-contrast with more uplifting leads, the ones laid down here by Lauri Unkila come from a decidedly more downtrodden, yearning place. Same story on “Trees as my Gravestone” which, again, sets a beautifully curated picture – with the melodies painting a picture of a knowing end, a last journey into the dark embrace of the woods to reach “The Wanderer’s” final resting place. It’s chilling! But not so much in a foreboding way – instead the track conveys a feeling of acceptance, of moving headlong towards an inevitable end without hesitation. Everything, from the guitars, to the vocals, to the beautiful piano and synth accents, it all comes together in a united, focused front.

Where some might find fault or confusion in the band’s decision to end on a nearly 6 minute instrumental, in the context of the EP’s story arc, it makes wonderful sense, and displays As The Sun Fall‘s real talent for telling a fully-articulated, complete story, made all the more impressive considering they needed just 3 tracks to do it. “Where the Silence Reigns” represents just that, the place where The Wanderer laid down for the final time, and all that was left was the serenity and beauty of his surroundings. The track even leans a fair bit into Blackgaze territory, adding another dimension of emotion and depth to the band’s sound that, to these ears, is much appreciated – like if Insomnium and Ghost Bath came together to create as morose and emotionally draining, but oddly uplifting track as possible.

As The Sun Falls, admittedly, is not necessarily bringing you anything you haven’t heard before – so if it’s sheer originality that you really need from your musical choices, this probably won’t push your needle. But if you’re a sucker like me for Finnish melodrama and a panache for winter-born atmosphere, you should embrace this release – and indeed all of the band’s work, with wide open arms. I’ll even say that the decision to tell this tale in a 3-song EP is, frankly, brilliant. It avoids the pitfall of dragging on for far too long, and plays out with a clearly defined arc that makes each track all the more impactful and satisfying. I’ll definitely be keeping this one in rotation as the colder months creep ever closer, and I highly recommend you do the same.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
October 27th, 2023

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