Charon - Downhearted

Year of Release: 2002
Label: Spinefarm
Catalog Number: SPI140
Format: CD
Total Time: 42:28:00

As Germany rides true with power metal, Finland matches them with gothic metal and with Charon we have another arrival getting the recognition they so richly deserve with the bands second Spinefarm album - Downhearted.

Laying down overly melodic heavy riffs, Charon (pronounced Kar-ron, I understand) manage to flaunt the gap between the pop-dominated HIM and the demonic Sentenced in a sound that has really only been explored effectively by fellow Finns Entwine. That overly used term melancholy comes to mind as the sorrowful vocals of JP Leppaluoto drown out everything bar the guitars. Vocally, Charon play with distorted male and female backing vocals and the whole presence sounds fresh. The quaint but limited female vocals add texture and ripeness to an already enjoyable album.

Charon manage to captivate the listener into sorrowfulness with JP having an almost unnerving ability to surround you with his sorrow making his downhearted feelings your own. Most albums like this manage to make me feel better about myself but for some reason Charon have the opposite effect. On the one hand bands like Entwine and Sentenced, and to a lesser extent Amorphis, have an element in them that makes you at one with them. Charon, at least initially, develop and maintain a distance that is disconcerting. The more you get to know the music though the more you get that familiar empathy so important with gothic metal.

Whilst many tracks mourn movingly there's still a profusion of the more upbeat numbers including the single "Little Angel" (the album comes complete with the film clip for this number), "Fall," "Erase Me," and "Come Tonight." These songs are a brilliant aside that showcases the maturity and roundness of the album whilst still preserving the depressive lyrics whilst the faster pace of these tracks create more triumphant emotions. Some tracks are a fraction austere when compared to others in the genre but with more music under their belt this will surely fall by the wayside. Sometimes JP doesn't posses the power to be anything more than he is - despite him carrying his soul so well - and his melodic voice is pleasureable. Music-wise, Charon are accompanied by the twin guitars of Jasse von Hast and Pasi Sipila that are aurally down heartening but ultimately unspectacular - although as you"d expect they fit the album perfectly. Add to this acoustic guitars, pianos, and keyboards programmed with aplomb.

Whilst Charon don't reach the dearth-ridden depths as well as Entwine, Charon are appealing in that this music is special to those who like to feel close to the music they are listening to. Whilst Spinefarm stupidly list this as power metal (what the hell gave them that idea?), this is clearly gothic metal and well performed it is to.

Similar To: HIM, Sentenced, Entwine

[This review originally appeared November 2002 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Bitter Joy / At The End Of Our Day / Craving / Little Angel / Fall / Erase Me / Desire You / Come Tonight / All I Care Is Dying / Sister Misery / Sorrowsong

Juha-Pekka Leppäluoto - vocals
Pasi Sipilä- guitar
Teemu Hautamäki - bass
Antti Karihtala - drums
Lauri Tuohimaa - guitar

Sorrowburn (1998)
Tearstained (2000)
Downhearted (2002)
The Dying Daylights (2003)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin FI

Added: December 7th 2004
Reviewer: Gary Carson
Artist website:
Hits: 928
Language: english


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