I was first introduced to Charon a few years back by their second album, Tearstained. While it didn’t offer nothing new nor did it held any big surprises, the catchy songs were able to stick in one’s head even after decapitation. Despite the horrors of trying to get the melodies out of your system, Tearstained left a positive after taste which raised interest in seeing what the band could offer on their next album.

This time the element of surprise is gone (last album basically came out of nowhere) and when people have created expectations, there’s a small chance for a let down. And as it was expected, Downhearted continues on the path of roses and tears. Musically Charon‘s material could be described as the bastard child of Sentenced and H.I.M. Featuring Sentenced-like music, but instead of being suicidal, romanticized elements of sorrow are brought into the mix from H.I.M‘s world. However, Charon still manages to have their own distinct style. Perhaps even having a bit more of a rock spirited edge in it.

The songs are interesting, yet straightforward enough to be catchy and rather memorable. Unfortunately, the songs seem come up a bit too polished making it somehow more generic and too safe. Personally, the crudeness of Tearstained was one of the more appealing factors in the music. JP Leppäluoto’s singing is as powerful as ever before. At times the vocals are spiced with effects in order to add some variety, but things would have worked well enough without their use. Also present from Tearstained is the use of double bass/cello and female vocals. Both of which bring small but important background details to the music.

Each song on the album deserves a spot in the roster but none of the pieces really shine above others and despite their catchiness, none of the songs are able to really grab you and drag you deep into the tearful emotions. Except for the last couple of tracks, “Sister Misery” and “Sorrowsong”. The first one brings memories from the previous album to one’s mind while the latter calms things down before the inevitable end.

If I’d had to choose between Tearstained and Downhearted, It would be clear that I’d take the one mentioned first. Nothing is exactly wrong with Downhearted but that ‘something special’ of Tearstained is just missing. But others have taken Downhearted under their embrace when you look at how good the album has scored in Finland and in the media. If you’re a fan of Sentenced and/or H.I.M, I’m sure Downhearted will be a worthy addition to your collection. A safe bet, so to speak.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Mikko K.
May 28th, 2002


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