Monday, September 18, 2006

farewell



sentenced - 'the funeral album'

released: april 2003
century media

songs: 1. may today become the day 2. ever-frost 3. we are but falling leaves 4. her last 5 minutes 5. where waters fall frozen 6. despair-ridden hearts 7. vengeance is mine 8. a long way to nowhere 9. consider us dead 10. lower the flags 11. drain me 12. karu 13. end of the road

Now that the long-awaited DVD 'Buried Alive', containing a host of extras and the entire farewell concert of this illustrious Finnish band (on which, according to reports, there are several shots of yours truly in the front row...), is finally upon us, it's worth remembering their final album, relevant in the context of their influential career.

The two short instrumentals present in this record, the savage 'Where Waters Fall Frozen' and the soft acoustic 'Karu', are perhaps the best symbolic summary of Sentenced's musical career, particularly after the change of vocalist, after the album 'Amok'. Since then, their tales of sadness, sorrow and bitterness bled out through a dynamic and modern rock/metal framework, filled with harmonies but also brutal riffs, a duality that has maintained the levels of intensity and depth very high for a decade now, particularly for those lucky enough to have seen them live.

Sentenced are also, and most essentially, one of the very few bands of the last few years able to not take themselves too seriously, something that is crucial within a genre that can easily fall into silly melodrama. For each suicidal line, there is always a dab of self-deprecating black humour to spice things up. In this final album, their integrity shines through - realizing this musical format could hardly be further developed without going into a repetition of what has already been done, the five members have decided to end the band, calmly and sensibly, giving it the right to a worthy funeral.

Of course, all this 'final' ambient around the album doesn't hurt its promotion at all. But one listen is enough to understand that this isn't a gimmick. The five Finns left their souls in these thirteen songs, down to the the smallest details, like the elegant design of the booklet, consisting of quotes from Finnish poets accompanied by staggeringly beautiful photographs. The music itself shows that, from the more immediately memorable songs like 'May Today Become The Day' or the first single 'Ever-Frost', to the usual hate manifestos like 'Vengeance Is Mine' (a sort of 21st century version of 'I'll Throw The First Rock'), this is the most balanced and complete album of their career. the touch of genius comes from the profoundly touching 'Her Last 5 Minutes' and 'We Are But Fallen Leaves', which are sung and played with a conviction that goes as far as making you worry about the actual possibility of any of those lyrics having a background of truth.


Being Sentenced, the end, in whatever form, has always been the main theme, but the last songs of this record seem to allude even more clearly to the end of the band, particularly 'Consider Us Dead' or the song that closes in the best possible way the recording career of a band that will not be forgotten easily - there really is no better way to say goodbye than with 'End Of The Road', the best song the band has ever written, with church bells, choirs and a downward spiral of melancholy-dripping guitars finishing it all, a chilling mix of bitterness and hope, in which Ville Laihiala asks it wasn't all that bad, was it now?.

No, no it wasn't. It was some of the best things we've had in our stereos in the last decade, and we only have to thank them for that.

May they rest in peace.

the good: a true goodbye record, with heart, soul and memorable, varied songs

the bad: it's the end

7 comments:

  1. I actually checked this out at the public library a while back. However I didn't get to hear it because I just had to many cd's stacked up waiting to be listened to.

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  2. I love when a band can go out with style! Instead of just piddling off in unpopularity but at (the top?) of their game. I've never listened to Sentenced, but have seen them around. My list is getting longer .... thanx Josie ...

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  3. Sorry , I spelt your name wrong. My apologies.

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  4. I've heard great things about this band but they are one of the many bands that I missed the boat on. I should check them out. Any recommendations on where to start?

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  5. mark - you missed out, go get it again. ;)

    dpth - yeah, it is a show of integrity. now i just hope there isn't a reunion... as much as i loved this band, a reunion would kinda ruin it for me. about your list, well, if my blog helps someone discover cool new music, the my job's done. and the same has happened to me from your blog too, so we're even! :)
    (and no worries about the name, it happens :))

    fred - anything from 'down' onwards is very consistent and hard to choose, but i'd probably pick 'frozen' as the most consistent one of the bunch, and also some of the catchiest songs. 'the cold white light' is the most melodic, probably, so one of those two would be good. before 'down', 'amok' and 'north from here' are also great albums, but they sound quite different as they featured the first vocalist and a more straighforward, brutal approach to songwriting.

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  6. Sentenced were among the first metal bands I encountered, all those years ago when I began my subterranean explorations. And they were one of my 2 first Finnish bands (the other being Amorphis). They've just never disappointed me. I have so much respect and admiration for them and their entire body of work, both the Taneli-era stuff and Ville's as well. Talk about a class act--they're *it.*

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  7. yeah, they do. i will miss them.

    heh, according to what i've been told, i show up quite often on the forthcoming 'buried alive' dvd. :)

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