In 2011 Amoral – bored by the limiting genre definitions offered to them to describe the band’s sound – started calling their music “Classic Rock Of The 21st Century”. Sure, the tongues were firmly on their cheeks, but there definitely were some valid points to the new, self-appointed title. If the likes of Pink Floyd, Zeppelin, Queen and Sabbath could all venture into many different paths musically under the moniker of Classic Rock, then Amoral could simply not settle for any less.
The title has never been more appropriate than on the band’s 6th album: Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows. After 2011’s Beneath, with its rave reviews, great fan response and a tour that took the band everywhere from Europe to Japan, with debut shows in the USA and China, Amoral had a clear vision of what it wanted to do on the next album.
“Very early on in the writing process, we noticed we were leaning towards lengthier, ‘proggy-er’ songs, in the vein of Beneath’s title track. Those type of songs were the ones we enjoyed playing the most on the Beneath tour, and the ones where we felt the band was at it’s best. So it felt natural to try and focus on these aspects for the next album”, says Ben Varon, guitarist and founding member of Amoral, who also acted as producer on Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows.
“Another defining guideline came to me a bit later, but made perfect sense with the material we were coming up with: this was to be a concept album. Not only were my lyrical ideas already intervening together, but the songs themselves were starting to paint a bigger picture.”
In it’s simplest form, Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows is about that one big mistake that cannot be undone.
“People like the idea of second chances, but sometimes that’s simply not an option. There are points of no return, decisions you can never undo. You can read into the lyrics as a tale of a drug addict, a relationship gone horribly wrong, longing for days past, fear of getting old… the latter two are probably the ones hitting closest to home for me”, Varon chuckles.
While Varon was responsible for the lyrics, writing the music was a fruitful collaboration between him and guitarist Masi Hukari, who joined the group just before the recording of Beneath in 2010.
“It was great to have Masi there from the very beginning of the writing this time around”, Ben says.
“Some of the best moments on the album were written together, feeding off each others ideas. Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows also has our bassist Pexi (Pekka Johansson) chipping in with the writing for the first time, which is really cool.”
Another first this time around is a collaboration many years in the works. Ever since singer Ari Koivunen joined Amoral in 2008, there has been talks of Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot) producing the vocals on an Amoral album. With the idea sabotaged by schedule clashes on the last two albums,
Marco was finally available to oversee the vocal sessions for Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows. Ben and Ari spent a week at Marco’s home studio in Kuopio, and the stress-free environment and Mr. Hietala’s input resulted in some of the best vocal performances heard from Koivunen to date.
But enough chitchat, let the music do the talking. Take an hour-long break from the laptops and smartphones, put Fallen Leaves & Dead Sparrows on your stereo and cross that bridge to The Other Side…