Originally written by Erik Thomas
Fall of the Leafe are one of the few bands that have drastically opened up their sound and evolved into more commercial pastures successfully. There style shift can be likened to fellow Fins Amorphis, as the transition from August Wernicke to Fermina (one of 2002’s most underheard and underrated albums) was shocking but also superbly smoothly done. The new Goth Rock Fall of the Leafe maintained their heavy guitar tone, cleaned up their vocals and wrote more mainstream songs, and still remained deftly artistic and heavy. After languishing on tiny Argentinean label Icarus music, Rage of Achilles signed these quirky Fins for their latest album, and rather than the massive changes heard between the last two albums Fall of the Leafe have found a style and sonic comfort zone that they deliver perfectly.
Driving, synth laden, chunky melodic Gothic Rock is Fall of the Leafe’s M.O now fully dropping any black/folk/death metal aspiration of their early days. Typically Finnish in its slightly melancholy delivery, the superb guitar tone, gives Fall of the Leafe far more weight than their peers, and the only residual trace of their heavier past. The most striking change in their discography has been of vocalist Tuomas Tuominen, whose strangely addictive voice is clean and powerfully clear but I still have no idea what he is saying. I think a lot of it is still due to his way left field lyrics, maybe not quite as preposterous as Fermina, but still far from the usual Goth fare:
“Awkward in the corner of a waiting room. Right next to the old magazines. Uneasy. Like a fish pulled up against the light. Black day, curiously attractive white light” (“A Waiting Room Snap”)
If anything Fall of the Leafe are bold and adventurous within their genre, as their song structures are often hypnotic and strangely intoxicating as guitarists Jussi Hanninen and Kaj Gustafsson weave riffs with a snake charmer like sway and rhythm. The deep guitar tone keeps things from getting too artsy fartsy, and truth be told Volvere has a few heavier moments than Fermina’s fully artistic scope. “Pillar of the Sun” features a pace Fall of the Leafe haven’t had for a while and “Song From the Second Floor” sees Touminen introduce the song with a gruffer vocal tone and stout groove before it reverts to its more expected trancelike state.
The album is full of foot-tapping anti metal moments also, but it only highlights the talent and boundary ignoring attitude of this underappreciated act. The acoustics of the albums most accessible track “The Bills and Power”, will get your foot tapping. While the “Enemy Simulator”, and quirky “Cut the Smoke” show that Goth Rock does not have to follow defined paths or be predictable.
All this being said, Fall of the Leafe do require a certain mindset to listen to, they are a very acquired taste that can come across as ‘pretentious’ at times. However, Fall of the Leafe are a superb band even if at the end of the day I actually preferred Fermina as it had a couple of real standout tracks, but Volvere is no slouch. I’m just glad the rest of the world now has access to hear them slightly more effortlessly.