Finnish heavy rockers AMORAL will release their new album, "Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows", on March 31 via Graphite Records. It is the band's first release on U.K. label Graphite, having previously been signed to Spinefarm.
In 2011, AMORAL – bored by the limiting genre definitions offered to them to describe the band's sound — started calling their music "classic rock of the 21st Century." Sure, the tongues were firmly on their cheeks, but there definitely were some valid points to the new, self-appointed title. If the likes of PINK FLOYD, LED ZEPPELIN, QUEEN and BLACK SABBATH could all venture into many different paths musically under the moniker of classic rock, then AMORAL could simply not settle for any less.
The title has never been more appropriate than on the band's sixth album: "Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows". After 2011's "Beneath", with its rave reviews, great fan response and a tour that took the band everywhere from Europe to Japan, with debut shows in the USA and China, AMORAL had a clear vision of what it wanted to do on the next album.
"Very early on in the writing process, we noticed we were leaning towards lengthier, 'proggy-er' songs, in the vein of 'Beneath''s title track. Those type of songs were the ones we enjoyed playing the most on the 'Beneath' tour, and the ones where we felt the band was at its best. So it felt natural to try and focus on these aspects for the next album," says Ben Varon, guitarist and founding member of AMORAL, who also acted as producer on "Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows".
"Another defining guideline came to me a bit later, but made perfect sense with the material we were coming up with: this was to be a concept album. Not only were my lyrical ideas already intervening together, but the songs themselves were starting to paint a bigger picture."
In its simplest form, "Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows" is about that one big mistake that cannot be undone.
"People like the idea of second chances, but sometimes that's simply not an option. There are points of no return, decisions you can never undo. You can read into the lyrics as a tale of a drug addict, a relationship gone horribly wrong, longing for days past, fear of getting old... the latter two are probably the ones hitting closest to home for me," Varon chuckles.
While Varon was responsible for the lyrics, writing the music was a fruitful collaboration between him and guitarist Masi Hukari, who joined the group just before the recording of "Beneath" in 2010.
"It was great to have Masi there from the very beginning of the writing this time around," Ben says.
"Some of the best moments on the album were written together, feeding off each others ideas. 'Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows' also has our bassist Pexi (Pekka Johansson) chipping in with the writing for the first time, which is really cool."
Another first this time around is a collaboration many years in the works. Ever since singer Ari Koivunen joined AMORAL in 2008, there has been talks of Marco Hietala (NIGHTWISH, TAROT) producing the vocals on an AMORAL album. With the idea sabotaged by schedule clashes on the last two albums, Marco was finally available to oversee the vocal sessions for "Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows". Ben and Ari spent a week at Marco's home studio in Kuopio, and the stress-free environment and Hietala's input resulted in some of the best vocal performances heard from Koivunen to date.
"Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows" track listing:
01. On The Other Side Pt. I (7:14)
02. No Familiar Faces (4:07)
03. Prolong A Stay (7:39)
04. Blueprints (4:20)
05. If Not Here, Where? (9:15)
06. The Storm Arrives (6:25)
07. See This Through (6:39)
08. On The Other Side Pt. II (9:14)
Ari Koivunen (RASKASTA JOULUA) - Vocals
Ben Varon (GREASE HELMET) - Guitar
Masi Hukari - Guitar
Pekka Johansson - Bass
Juhana Karlsson (SHEAR) - Drums
"Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows" discussion part 1:
"Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows" discussion part 2:
"Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows" discussion part 3: