A Song Cycle for Midnight - a zine about the dark arts


Charon - Songs for the Sinners

by Digital Uriel

This album has played once a day on my stereo since it came out last summer—my worst addiction since caffeine. Downhearted and The Dying Daylights were the best Finn Rock albums out there—Goddammit!—but I hadn’t expected those two albums to be topped. Charon makes some of the best metal and rock albums; that goes without saying.

Charon’s is one part motifs and two parts atmosphere.

Listen to that opening verse and chorus on “Colder.” Rhythmically, the entire band is locked in a figure that gives the whole thing a dark war chant feel, which is accurate given the songs subject matter: “The everlasting hope for a bitter war.” As the verse progresses the guitars pick up and JP’s vocals modulate upward. Suddenly the thing becomes a power anthem for the sinners, for rebels; for the misery squad. The deep sorrowful vocals are layered something like three to fives times over with different harmonies and timbres so that JP sounds like the crying voice of the masses. Sexy but despairing female vocals, by Jenny Heinonen, add to the anthem.

This is not a band that has two thousand different motifs competing for the forefront. “Colder” is an anthem in the truest sense of the word. Everything converges for one profound effect. There is unity in the sound, though there is diversity. If you can imagine what it would sound like to have miked the rebel angels before their fall from grace, Charon is something close to that sound. When you listen, you stand with JP and his guitar mavens.

And what about the guitars? This is by far the most concise, melodic, and thoughtful guitar work I’ve heard in my years as a guitarist. The strings never outshine the vocals and they work politely with the rhythm section to drive the song. You won’t hear riffs consuming any verse or chorus on Songs for the Sinners. This is great guitar work; the guitarists realize they are not the lead instrument until the solo section; they answer the vocalist and don’t upstage him.

The album’s only dilemma is the ballad “Air.” It’s a daring attempt on Charon’s part, but it lacks the care that is apparent in the other songs. It is something of a blues or gypsy jazz riff on the guitar with JP singing about the moon and such. It is terribly creative during the verse, but all in all it sounds repetitive because there is no solo section, though there is some sort of attempt at a cello solo that is less than successful. We listen to this song and want more, we want Charon to take us further like they do on “Grey” or “House of the Silent,” but all we get is two verse, two chorus.