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Hallatar - No Stars Upon The Bridge (2017) - Review

Band: Hallatar
Album title: No Stars Upon The Bridge
Release date: 13 October 2017
Label: Svart Records

01. Mirrors
02. Raven's Song
03. Melt
04. My Mistake (feat. Heike Langhans)
05. Pieces
06. Severed Eyes
07. The Maze
08. Spiral Gate
09. Dreams Burn Down (feat. Aleah Starbridge)

"We all dance to the Raven’s song
We arise from the silent Womb
Walk the sacred mile alone
No one escapes the great unknown."

Grief, sorrow, sadness, darkness and anger should be the words that describe this album and music performed by Hallatar. Hallatar is a project/band formed by Swallow The Sun and Trees of Eternity guitarist Juha Raivio, mainly to commemorate the death of his partner and Trees Of Eternity vocalist Aleah Starbridge. Now, you must already know that the siren Aleah Starbridge passed away in April 2016. Trees Of Eternity then in November that same year released the amazing album Hour Of The Nightingale, which served as the swansong of this amazing and talented vocalist. In Hallatar Juha is joined by Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick and you'll hear as a guest female vocalist the amazing Draconian/Ison vocalist Heike Langhans. Now, you might think that Hallatar is just an extension of Trees Of Eternity, but even if the soul of Aleah is present very much in these songs, musically Hallatar differs quite a lot.

No Stars Upon The Bridge is not an easy album, sometimes soundscapes might be really disturbing and suffocating. It brings darkness and sorrow, there's almost no light shining there, it's an album full of pain, you can almost feel it, Juha made it the way that the listener will feel like if his loved one died. We must take this album in the first place as it is, a sad moment in Juha's life, and with it he's in a most magnificient way honoring the memory, lyrics, and poems of Aleah Starbridge with all its pain, beauty and darkness. Yes, all of the lyrics and poems on this albums were written by Aleah, and we can even hear her voice in the last song, the mesmerizing "Dreams Burn Down".

Musically Hallatar brings doom, very atmospheric crushing doom, sometimes at the border of funeral doom. All of the songs are pure gloom, there's so much transcedental melancholy inherited in here. In the beginning it was hard for me to digest Tomi Joutsen's penetrating growls, which are quite different from what he does in Amorphis, but more and more that I was listening to this music the more I find it so very appealing, I never imagined that Aleah words might become so very touchy and vivid when sang in this form. Heike on the other side brings ethereal beauty, just listen to the transpiring and so very emotional "My Mistake". It's also very recommended to watch the video made for this one to really feel it. Heike with her ethereal, dark, sensitive, yet powerful voice certainly leaves a mark in here, as well on the short pieces like "Raven's Song", "Pieces" and "Spiral Gate", where she recites poems written by Aleah.

Otherwise Hallatar mostly brings crushing heavy guitar riffs, pounding drums that feel like the hammer of doom, here and there the insertion of piano brings additional feeling of sorrow, just listen to the tumultuous darkness of the stifling, but very dense "The Maze" and you'll know what I mean. As well those hazey synths where utilized deepen the atmosphere, and on certain parts acoustic guitar is a spot on, like for example in the beautiful ballad "Severed Eyes", the only one sung completely with clean voice. But, what Hallatar did is much more than just an usual album, this creation transcends music, it's an outpour of severed emotions, it's beauty and darkness walking hand in hand towards the unknown eternity, it's a grief of a person who mourns the loved one and it's a call from afterlife of his lover whose presence becomes so very alive in those lines and through words. This is one of the albums with so much depth, just like it was Trees Of Eternity's Hour Of The Nightingale, but here the sorrow has much more anger inherited inside.

"When dreams burn down
and reason comes around
No one can fill this void I have found
For centuries it has walked with me."

Review written by: T.V.
Rating: 9/10



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