When it comes to happiness Finland is for years the number one country in the world. Interesting about this is the fact that a lot of music that comes from Finland suggests otherwise. Personally I get this contradiction. My personal experience with a lot of dark- and atmospheric music is that it lifts me up in a certain way. Most of the times when I dive into the lyrics my mood changes. I think that music can be interpreted on many ways.
The fourth album, The Withering, of the Finnish progressive rock band Naryan is a striking example of an album which can be interpreted in various ways. All the Naryan albums are very atmospheric and are more or less journeys for the listeners. When you just listen to the music there's a change you get a positive mood, although the atmosphere is down. The beauty of the music lifts you up. On the other hand, when you listen to the lyrics, especially the latest album can take you down in a sad mood.
As said The Withering is the fourth album of Naryan. Naryan takes its name from Tolkien's “Lord of the Rings”. It stands for the ring of fire or the red ring and is one of the rings of power. In the progressive rock genre it is very common to refer to the works of Tolkien. Back in the 80s Marillion did.
Naryan has the following line-up: Raino Ketola (guitar), Tommi Tanhuanpää (drums), Antti Väliniemi (bass), Tommi Niemi (vocals), Nona Onnela (violin), Lauri Kovero (guitar) and Evelina Sydänlähde (piano, flute and backing vocals). There are a lot of additional musicians, for example on cello, vocals, trombone, and horn and in the choirs. The additional musicians tell us that the album has classical influences. That all said it's time to take a closer look at the album.
The album opens with the track The End. In the context of the lyrics it's not strange to open with such a titled track. The album deals with the many feelings experienced after the loss of a loved one. The track contains piano and strings which sound very emotional. The track has an incredible tension and it's clear that The End, the end of someone's life means. At the end of the track the church bells even chime.
The End fluently shades into You Are the One. The church bell keeps on chiming for some time in this mid-tempo track. The track has an emotional character and contains strings and female background vocals. The track can be seen as an ode to those who have gone and exchanged this world for eternity.
Now You're Gone is a similar track. Great difference between this track and the previous one are the very melodic bridges and the even more melodic chorus. I really like these. They are incredibly catchy. The classical strings in this track are great. They lay some sort of carpet underneath the song and take the lead in some parts of the track. This is typical a song with an emotional theme, but without listening to that specific theme you can get in a positive flow. Call it my way of bereavement.
IV is a short string intermezzo which is used to connect two songs. This intermezzo continues with Black Swan. The atmosphere of this track is oppressive, but also very melodic. I think this combination is the strength of this great album. The tracks breathe the emotions of a loss but have also a very melodic dark atmosphere.
The sixth track Until We Meet Again starts with classic piano and very emotional vocals. I think you can call it a progressive rock ballad. Strings are forming the base of this track as well. Strings have an import role on this album, creating the tension and the atmosphere.
The guitar solo in this track is awesome. It is one that almost pulls the tears out of your eyes, you can feel the tension.
Hear Me Now is a mid-tempo track which contains excellent female vocals. Male and female vocals alternate in this track.
Room Of Angels is probably the darkest track of this album. The vocals sound as if they are coming from the depths of the nirvana. The track lingers on in a low-tempo. The concept is the same as on previous tracks.
The last track on the album is called The World Is Filled With Silence. The track opens with a short classic horn intermezzo. Soon vocals come in and after a short while the entire band also comes in. Strong point in this composition are the beautiful choirs. These choirs are carrying the track and gives it tension. This is the best ending of an album that you can wish. But is it the ending?
No, it's not...the album contains a bonus track which is called Takamaa. Takamaa is a folkish track which is song in the Finnish language. The atmosphere of this track fits in the concept of the album. So it's a nice bonus.
I think that Naryan outdid themselves and delivered a fantastic album. Although it's an album, which handles themes of “loss” and “mourning”,it has very emotional sides, it is also very melodic. From the technical point of view you can't make any negative remarks. It's really excellent.
I have listened to the album with great pleasure and enjoyed every minute of it. For my there is only one conclusion: I rate this album 4,5 out of 5.
****+ Aad Bannink (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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