The metal world lost a true talent earlier this year with the passing of vocalist Aleah Starbridge at the way too young age of 39 from cancer. Not only had she adorned albums from Swallow the Sun and Amorphis with her angelic vocals, but she had also been hard at work on the debut album from her band Trees of Eternity for a few years before her tragic death. The rest of the band have made sure to get this one released as a tribute to their fallen vocalist, and it's titled Hour of the Nightingale and available on Svart Records. The rest of the band are comprised of Juha Raivio (Swallow The Sun) on guitar, Kai Hahto (Nightwish, Swallow the Sun, Wintersun) on drums, and Mattias & Fredrik Norrman (ex-Katatonia, October Tide) on bass and guitar.
Though you can clearly classify much of the music on Hour of the Nightingale as melodic doom, there's a certain air of gothic & ambient metal that also permeates the album. It never quite rocks hard, and the arrangements, including the guitar riffs, are very understated, instead much of the music just drifts along, the lush, lilting chords providing a melancholy backdrop for Aleah's vocals to drift and soar over. "Broken Mirror", "A Million Tears", "Eye of Night", and "The Passage" are about as upbeat as you are going to get here, but even these tracks settle into a mid paced thump that's more about atmosphere and melodies than it is about trying to get your heartbeat racing. Paradise Lost frontman Nick Holmes joins Aleah for a vocal duet on the gothic doom tune "Gallows Bird", and the melancholy pop-meets-doom of "Condemned to Silence" sees vocal contributions from Mick Moss of Antimatter. For the most part though this is a showcase for Aleah Starbridge, and she was more than up for the challenge, her angelic & ethereal vocals just soaring over textured guitar work and gentle keyboards on nice little gems "My Requiem", "Black Ocean", and the gorgeous title track.
Whether Hour of the Nightingale proves to be the one and only statement from this band or they decide to carry on at some point remains to be seen, but for the moment it's more about celebrating the life & talent of Aleah Starbridge through the music, and for that, job well done. RIP lovely Aleah.
02-Eye of Night
03-Condemned to Silence (feat. Mick Moss)
04-A Million Tears
05-Hour of the Nightingale
10-Gallows Bird (feat. Nick Holmes)