Amoral - Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows
Imperial Cassette
Progressive Metal
8 songs (54:53)
Release year: 2014
Amoral
Reviewed by Goat

It's hard to immediately think of a band who have gone through as much change as Amoral in such a short period of time, but the Helsinki-based group went from technical death in 2004 to power metal towards the end of the decade with the arrival of Finnish Idol 2007 winner Ari Koivunen on vocals. That's pretty eyebrow-raising, and was enough to make me research the guy a little for this review (read 'I looked up his victory performance on YouTube'). Seven years later, it's easy to hear that his voice has matured, although it's still oddly youthful and very much out of the metal norm – enough to make this stand out, the first album of Amoral's that I've really paid much attention to in years after casually hearing a track on YouTube and wanting to catch up.

Moving away a little from power metal, Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows has embraced the proggy tendencies revealed on previous albums, making full use of talented guitarists Masi Hukari and Ben Varon, creating something of a concept album about some sort of lost love. There are obvious similarities to Dream Theater's Metropolis, although Amoral try hard to impress with genuine experiments with genre. Opener On The Other Side pt I is quietly impressive, not going out of its way to show off immediately but allowing Koivunen's voice to work its magic and working some flashy guitar work in towards the end of the seven-minute track. Subtly catchy and more infectious than you'd think, it's a good opening to the album. No Familiar Faces follows, catchier and more hard rock in style – any remaining death metal influence is gone completely – and with only more guitar heroics to keep it feeling like the album is treading water.

Fortunately, Prolong A Stay soon makes up for it, opening with more complex riffing and some limited power metal keyboards for a touch of atmosphere. It's oddly reminiscent of Nightwish circa Dark Passion Play in the verses, up until the band shift into black metal speed like a less over-the-top Wintersun – clearly for full PROG METAL points, although giving the band credit the good use of lengthy solos works very well and keeps it all focused. Ballad Blueprints is one of the best uses of Koivunen, surprisingly, while If Not Here, When? and On The Other Side pt II are the album's prog epics, starting with gentle build-ups and throwing in everything from djent-y grooves to more blackened speed to death growls. It all sort of works and is listenable enough, but the likes of The Storm Arrives (yep, an instrumental, which is a huge warning sign) and See It Through are better for their focus, sounding like modern Dream Theater more than anything.

Not terrific, then, but showing promise. It's interesting to note that it's not Koivunen that is the weak spot – he is undoubtedly a good singer, and may not sound like what I'm used to in power metal, but admittedly, I hardly listen to it! Instead, it's a songwriting issue, this seeming like a début album you've stumbled across that is surprisingly good for what it is and promises very good things to come, but is definitely sub-par for the work of a band on their sixth album. Amoral are a talented group of individuals, that Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows is almost good enough to drown out its faults speaks volumes to that. If they stay with this proggy sound for another album or two we'll finally be able to praise Amoral as they deserve. In the meantime, Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows is a solid enough album from a band that should be doing much better by now.

Killing Songs :
On The Other Side pt I, Prolong A Stay, Blueprints, The Storm Arrives, See This Through
Goat quoted 60 / 100
Other albums by Amoral that we have reviewed:
Amoral - Beneath reviewed by Khelek and quoted 79 / 100
Amoral - Show Your Colors reviewed by Khelek and quoted 71 / 100
Amoral - Wound Creations reviewed by Jay and quoted 82 / 100
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