Their last few albums saw a once instrumentally powerful rock outfit turning to way more comfortable pop stylistics and losing momentum. A four year break since (very) lackluster Ultraviolet (2018) has done the Finns good, however; their ninth full length Ghostlight is a definite show of force, and might just be the crowning jewel in the Poets of the Fall discography, showing clearly how they master pop and rock songwriting, while grasping the past, clutching it tight and running with it into the future. Ghostlight sees a sweet mingling of old school and modern day Poets, chucking in some heavy ass (for the band) moments as well as some over the top (for a metal fan) poppy moments, but they all come together in the end. Part of what’s been dragging about the last couple of albums is the lack of guitar antics from Olli Tukiainen. But that’s been rectified on here, as the man lets loose some old school soloing and tasty riffing.
Right out of the gate, Firedancer kind of makes you think you’ll get another affair like Ultraviolet – thought the six minute runtime says otherwise. But you’d be mistaken, and very pleasantly surprised, as single Requiem for My Harlequin takes the reins with some Jealous Gods (2014) vibes and great hooks, and from there… the ball is in motion. On repeat listens, Firedancer, too, shows its subtleties and nuances and gets a passing grade. Though it might just be a tad too… what it is. It’s the middle couple of tracks that kind of drag things down; Heroes and Villains is just a tad too long and slow, while Lust for Life does its job as a token ballad (solo’s good though). They both fit the narrative of the whole, but these are the skippables. And it’s nothing against ballads, because man can Poets pull a ballad like nobody’s business; we’ve got Sounds of Yesterday and Weaver of Dreams both on here with heaps of emotional pull and songwriting that don’t just go the simple route. Ok, still nothing near The Poet and the Muse, but that’s fine.
Ok, so sound wise, the guitars obviously lack that near metallic crunch of the first couple of albums, rather going the slick almost pop rock-y route of slick, clean riffing. This is not to the albums detriment however, as the guys elevate the music with weight and pomp otherwise, wherever needed. Closer (and absolute highlight) Beyond the Horizon might be their heaviest song to date; a slow cooking furnace of absolute power, Marko Saaresto belting out one of his best vocal performance on the album. The song also closes the narrative in a powerful and emotional way that becomes synonymous of the whole; intense buildups leading to magnificent climaxes, great soloing like the days of yore from Tukiainen. This is where the longer songs - only two of the ten don’t reach five minutes - pay off, as the buildup feel that much more climactic, thanks to the intense feeling throughout. All in all, Ghostlight shows up unexpectedly, sucks you in and hooks you with magnificent pathos and all the dramatic emphasis Poets are known for; it sticks the landing and ends up one of their finest ones yet. If not the finest.
Standout tracks: Requiem for My Harlequin, Revelations, Chasing Echoes, Beyond the Horizon