On May 16, 2010 the great Ronnie James Dio has left this world. Just one day prior metal lost another wonderfully talented musician, although I am sure Juhani Palomaki’s passing was a lot less noted. I am so sorry I missed writing the review for Yearning’s last (turned out ever) album Merging into Landscapes. Yet, I am very grateful Yearning has been recognized by other MR writers. With this two part review I wanted to pay the final tribute to Juhani and fill out remaining gaps in MR reviewing Yearning discography.
I don’t think I own another album which served me as a moral crutch as many times as With Tragedies Adorned. I don’t care what the critics say about that Yearning full-length debut, but when I listen to it my mind goes afloat, for at least one hour I become completely unattached to the problems troubling me at the moment, while receiving thorough mental cleansing in the end. As a bottle of rare, but favorite, cognac or whiskey stashed away in your liquor cabinet, I don’t partake from the With Tragedies Adorned well too often, saving it for just the right time.
I don’t want to pretend that Plaintive Scenes and Frore Meadow occupy the same unreachable pedestal. When both were released I did not fully embrace them, continuously making the same unfair and hapless comparison to With Tragedies Adorned. Time went by, Yearning evolved and I matured, and now looking back I feel more in tune trying to characterize what I now call the “soul-searching” era of Yearning.
Having started as a death metal band, With Tragedies Adorned presented the finest display of death-doom rivaling in emotional capacity Paradise Lost, My Dying Bride and Anathema. Plaintive Scenes deceptively starts that way too on Naivete, depressing funeral doom with harsh vocals augmented by keyboard and flute arrangement. However, half way into the opener the doom is supplanted by the up-tempo searing gothic rock with clean Juhani vocals, still heavily accented, but more refined, followed by the fantastic outro. By the time double bass and dramatic melody of Unwritten is unfurled I knew then that there will be no another With Tragedies Adorned, and Unwritten could have certainly occupied a prominent place on either Down or Frozen (by Sentenced), Yearning delving into the same endless source of Finnish melancholy Northernmost Killers themselves discovered at about the same time Plaintive Scenes saw the light of day.
And then the exploration begins. One would never know if Juhani was simply not satisfied with one-dimensionality in his music, or the disarray in the band, still a full line-up at the time of Plaintive Scenes but torn apart by Frore Meadow, put a stamp on musical ideas. Nevertheless, the rest of Plaintive Scenes takes an unexpected abrupt turn into introspective progressive brood, constantly at fight with itself, contradictive and lacking shape, at least on the surface, but penetrating much deeper when listened to periodically for at least ten years. Grey is an over the top droning track, too twisted for its own good, not finding the form until the closing keyboard chords. The title tracks touches on the dreamtastic In the Hands of Storm, tempos moving up and down, unsettlingly so, but the clean guitar is so touching, so desperate, you will feel the need to find the composer’s address and offer him a helping hand. Both Soliloqui tracks are probably the most confusing and sideways, the weird a capello singing in part II taking the bizarre title on the album.
To end this uncertainty Eyes of the Black Flame present a chugga-chugga spacey gothic rock with a saccharine melody and female backing vocals, lacking Yearning high emotional standard, but at least that track puts the band back in the land of straightforward. And Nameless brings the closing relief with its classic music overture/grandiose symphonic tragedy feel, the theme Juhani will repeat on Frore Meadow, and then later in his other, heavier, band Colosseum.
Frore Meadow saw one of the best covers JP Fournier ever put together and Yearning reduced to being a duo of Juhani and his trusted drummer Toni Kostiainen, now going by the name of T. Kristian. The life would have it that Toni would develop a serious addiction problem later in life, so Frore Meadow and Evershade would mark his last two appearances with Yearning. But for now, unencumbered, not having to deal with a number of bandmates anymore, Juhani could unleash the breadth of his palette and, in a way, Frore Meadow does just that.
No gothic rock sampler should ever be put together without Bleak, the album’s opener. The synth laden gothic verse explodes in urgent alarmist riffs equal part Sentenced and Katatonia on Brave Murder Day, unrivaled by anything H.I.M or To Die For could ever put together. Double bass, guitar crying and coming full circle, the harsh vocals applied perfectly to accentuate the anguish – this song has it all. In fact, Frore Meadow has a few other tracks with perfect, soul moving gothic riffs, like The Fall, and a little bit to a lesser degree Autumn, that song being a perfect antidote for a cheery summer day attitude. Autumn goes a bit simplistic with some chugging chords and Solitary manages to box itself in, until chorus and keyboard-guitar interplay provide some liberation, but that is as clear-cut as Juhani was willing to get on Frore Meadow.
The band now was him, and experimentation was not over, which the second part of the album perfectly showed. I could fathom the folkish, elvish, clean sung In Strange Slowfooted Fever, and always considered the album to be over before the closing 9 min of Disappearance, a thunder background, cooing birds, shimmering night ambient noise. Years of Pain instrumental with its ostentatious cathedral organ brought melodic density again later explored with Colosseum and Elegy of Blood borrowed from the same morose withdrawn tone combining with double bass supported keyboard in a dramatic effect. Yet the murky jazzy, very unusually arranged, syncopated, Forsaken, title track and The Race always remained a way too convoluted triad for me.
On Evershade the Yearning duo managed to amalgamate everything from With Tragedies Adorned to Frore Meadow in one complete package, so all of that trial-and-error in between only advanced Juhani Palomaki as a songwriter. He could now reinforce the main theme of the track with a clever sidebar arrangement without losing focus. In hindsight, I did underscore Evershade by a few points, not giving it deserving 90, but after all just about every Yearning album took time to sink in.
I do not know what caused Juhani’s untimely passing. The man was younger than me and now he is gone. I have never exchanged an e-mail or a word with him, as I don’t think Yearning ever came to the States. But somehow, somewhere, he had a perfect understanding of what my soul needed to hear musically to make sense of my own complex feelings and for that I will remain forever thankful. RIP, Juhani, and may the next world, wherever your soul is at, be as fertile for your creativity as this one was, but hopefully it will bring you less grief and pain.
Killing Songs :
Bleak, Autumn, The Fall, Elegy of Blood
|Alex quoted 78 / 100|
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