For every review of KALMAH and NORTHER there’s a C.O.B. comparison of some kind. The same goes for a band like CHARON, people compare them to SENTENCED and H.I.M. all the time; duh, it’s the same genre alright but dammit each of these bands compose songs differently and play them differently, is that what it takes to be a copy these days?
Anyway, ”Downhearted” is a heavy, melodic and atmospheric record, a very Finnish sounding record. The Finnish moods are ever present, the band’s raw emotions are translated into eleven great and catchy tunes for the gloomy seasons. As for technicality, well, “Downhearted” doesn’t have many cards to play with there but instead of sounding like an educated institution of high level techniques, the members strive to complement each other by writing on a very simple level when it comes to structure, which also brings the best out of the songs and themselves.
Take a song like “Come Tonight”, a song that follows the simplest of song writing structures: intro (main riff) – 1st verse – back to main riff – 2nd verse – chorus – solo part – chorus – outro… less is sometimes more and this is the case of CHARON’s song writing talents.
Songs are mostly in uptempo head banging style, tracks like “Little Angel”, “At The End Of Our Day” and “Sister Misery” are served with heavy uptempo riffs, delicate lead guitar work and J.P.’s cold yet infectious vocals, quite similar to new sound of KATATONIA or old PARADISE LOST (“Draconian Times” era) recipe. “Erase Me” is one of my favourite tracks off the album, I’ll admit the song borrows some chords from an undying classic titled “The Last Time”, but damn does that chorus crawl directly into your heart or what?
Most of the songs are backed up with wonderful female vocals from the mysterious sidekick Jenny Heinonen who also helped the band out on their last album. Experimentation is necessary for a band that wants to develop; you’ll hear some drum loops, electronics etc. etc. on the slower tracks, especially “Sorrowsong” demands a certain amount of quietude before you can appreciate the atmosphere.
“Downhearted” is first and foremost a Metal album but it’s also suited for the more reflective moments. (Online October 5, 2004)