We are nearing the end of the year. I’m making my “best of “ lists, slowly but surely, and more albums keep pouring into my inbox. Some, though, I find more organically, such as the debut from Autumn’s Grief. I happened upon this record—well, I don’t even remember where. It must have been social media. The record is called The Dead Don’t Smile, and it released on October 15th.
Autumn’s Grief comes to us from Finland. The lineup consists of Santtu Rosén on guitars and bass, Ville Skön on keys, and Noora Virtanen on vocals. Santtu and Ville worked together under the band Dying Daylight, and met Noora as she replied to one of their ads for vocalists.
The band places a metal sound that is influenced by various genres. I can definitely hear an alternative sort of vibe, but you will also hear shades of symphonic metal, doom, and Gothic. I would also say that there is a wistful breath of folk in their sound, similar to bands like White Willow, as well as the melancholy and ambience of bands like Anathema. So, their sound is kind of like Insomnium meeting White Willow and Anathema.
For me, the standout aspects of their style are Noora’s voice and Ville’s keys. Noora has a unique voice, being chock full of character and interesting tones. In fact, her voice may take some time to process, but I’ve come to really like it. Ville’s keys lean towards the symphonic sound, feeling lush and whole. His keys aren’t just accents or ambience, as they add full melodies to the mix that elevate everything else. Again and again, I was impressed by his work. And, of course, none of that would mean anything without Santtu’s driving and distorted guitars and bass.
Another aspect of their sound is the dark overall tone. I would call it melancholy, but I think it goes further than that. The band calls it “mournful”, and much of that has to do with Noora’s somber voice. It also has to do with deliberate choices in composition, slanting towards downtempo chord progression again and again. There are even a few moments where I expected Noora to hit a high note, but she instead swung downwards for an even darker and more dangerous sound. I really like that about this record.
As I listen to The Dead Don’t Smile, each of its ten tracks has felt like a highlight at one time or another. The opener “The Oblivion” was an earworm for a couple weeks with its quickened chorus, but the title track soon took its place with its swooning symphonic melodies and elongated chorus. I should mention that this album has plenty of powerful hooks, though that isn’t a feature of this type of sorrowful metal very often.
I would say my other favorites are “The Offerings”, “Five to Seven”, “We Will Kill Them All”, and “The Seven”. Again, all of the songs are wonderful, though. “The Offering” is a beautiful track with piano accompaniment and a strong chorus hook that I find myself singing often. “Five to Seven” is mostly an orchestral track with serious gravity and cinema in its veins. It feels epic. “We Will Kill Them All”, by contrast, is the heaviest song on the album. It revels in blast beats and somber, icy lyrical content. I really like Noora’s vocal performance on that one. Finally, “The Seven” is pretty heavy, as well, and I love the musical space and “cool” factor it has.
The album closer is a good example of why I like this album. “Pale Heart” contains lush symphonic keys, a great chorus, subtle monastic vocals, and excellent riffing. It is both fun to hear and also a serious experience that tells a story of longing and desolation. The darkened tone and sorrowful lyrics feel nostalgic and also fresh, and I think that describes the entire album well.
Autumn’s Grief is definitely a band I’ll be watching. They have a certain amount of character and personality in their sound, enough to set them apart from the rest of the melodic and Gothic metal crowd. This is a tribute to the three musicians who each bring their fantastic contributions together into a metal sound that is fairly addictive. I know that I keep coming back for more.
Find Autumn’s Grief online: