So, anyone that has been reading this blog or knows me, knew that I was going to be reviewing this cd the day it arrived in my mail box and today is that day. In a previous blog, I highlighted the band “Free Spirit” from Finland as being one of the gems of the music world and recommended people to search out the amazing music on their cd “Pale Sister Of Light” which was released in 2009.
I could not buy the cd here in Canada anywhere but had all the songs for Rock Band, as that is where I first heard of the band. Imagine my surprise when I received a comment from the band thanking me for the kind words and offering me the chance to get the cd. I was ecstatic but then I went to their website (www.freespiritrock.com) and saw my blog was published on their front page. Simply amazing!!!! So strap in kiddies and be prepared to go on a kick ass rock n roll ride!
I will review each song in order and just list them with the number that corresponds to the track listing on the back of the cd.
#1 – Shadow Of A Man
The song starts off with a rib breaking combination of drums, guitars and bass to really set the vibe for what was set to come. I have to say that I really enjoy the sound of vocalist Sami Alho’s voice. It comes across very low key and then will explode during the chorus and meld perfectly with the rest of the band in a pretty near perfect harmony. This song is such a throwback to the 1980’s rock/hard rock scene and I totally love that.
#2 – Moonlight Ride
The guitar riff that opens the song is catchy and immediately fades into an amazing verse with the vocals, bass and drums being in almost in unison and it is very melodic. The one thing I really love about Free Spirit is the harmonies of the band on the chorus. They have such a tight sound vocally and it is very similar to Def Leppard to me in how it really drives the song. Sami Hämäläinen has the bass guitar really shining in this song. It is rare when the sound of the bass resonates above everything else in this song but it does and it is amazing.
#3 – Pale Sister Of Light
The title track from the cd is one of my favorite songs on the entire cd. The start of the song is an “in your face” harmony by the band on the title of the song. The instruments then kick in and off we go! This is more of a throw down rock n roll song that has a great beat and the guitars are front and center. Vesa Yli-Mäenpää and Marko Haapamäki really shine on this song and the solo is amazing. It may be the best solo on the album.
#4 – Heroes Don’t Cry
The fourth track on the cd is a song that resembles a Celtic Ballad during the initial monets of the song. Once the drums, bass and electric guitar kick in we have a strange fusion of a Celtic hard rock ballad that is awesome. I have never really heard anything like this before, as it combines the vocals, and tempo of a traditional Celtic Ballad but has so much punch to it that you will start head banging. The solo and surrounding guitar work is actually quite heavy which surprised me.
#5 -Radiant Light
Wow! That is all I can say about this song. Amazing harmony once again on the vocals and the bass riff at the beginning is what I was hoping to hear. It basically thumps you over the head and leads into Alho’s vocals flawlessly. This is definitely an “all on the floor rocker” of a song. The tempo of the sound is building continuously until it hits a small speaking part before the solo. The lull in the song is brief as the solo erupts and the tempo ramps up again.
#6 – Cry Of An Eagle
This is one of the first songs I bought of Free Spirit for Rock Band, and is another one of my favorites on the cd. The vocals are very melodic in that they seem to actually mirror what is being played by the guitarists. The part of the song that catches me is the vocals at the start of each verse, I can not really describe it but if I had to it is as “uplifting.” When those words are being sung, the vocals are “alone.” What I mean by this is that the instruments dial it back quite a bit, so the vocals are the prominent sound. The guitar work at the end is amazing.
#7 – Easy Days
This is my first time hearing this song and it is nothing like the rest. The intro is played by some form of a flute/horn and then the other instruments kick in. The song has a very “country and western” vibe to it and I don’t mean country and western music. I mean that if I was watching a Western movie, this song would fit perfectly and that is not a bad thing! The song does not sound like anything else on the album and I am really digging the flute/horn work as it gives the song a “mysterious” factor. This is also the longest song on the album clocking in at over 5 minutes.
#8 – Strangers
Oh man the bass work at the beginning of the song is amazing! It is a slow burning song that builds very slowly and deliberately through the verses but totally picks up on the chorus. There is an underlying power in the vocals by Alho on this one. He has a softer singing style but when he picks it up, it really does pick up! I really love the drums on this song as well. Pasi Koivumäki just pounds the day lights out of the drums on this one. He rocks it on every song but there is something about this one that it really stands out more.
#9 – Until The Night
Just as I said before about the guitar work being great, this song is no exception. There are some amazing bone crunching riffs at the start of this one that seems like a contrast to the calmness of the vocals. If the drums stood out more on the previous song, the keyboards by Timo Alho are front and center here. They lull you into a sense of false security that is then shattered by the loud guitars that then cuts into the song. This is also the first video, I believe, that the band made. It was the winner of the Garage Countdown contest and had over 82 000 times over the internet.
#10 – Far Away From Heaven
Ladies and Gentlemen, this is the song that made me a fan of Free Spirit. It is not quite a ballad but the label power ballad definitely applies here. This song is one I listen to once a day atleast and is the song I use to share the band with people who have never heard them before. Everything about this somg is damn near peferct. The real treat in this song is the vocals by the band. The harmonies they sing for the chorus is out of this world. I do have to say that the guitar solo is amaziung as well, very haunting and it stays with you. This is one hell of a song.
#11 – Preacher Man
I love the guitar riff and mini solo at the start of this song! It really gets you amped up for what is another song that lulls you into a sense of false security. The verses are very calm and peaceful, with a simple soundtrack playing but my god when the chorus kicks in the song goes to another level. The vocals on this song are simply spellbinding and they are front and center with the instruments taking a back seat. I am not saying the instrument playing is not noticible but the band has such a power when they are all harmonizing, I really do not know the words to describe it.
Pale Sister Of Light is one of the strongest debut albums I have ever heard by any band, period. It is only 11 tracks long but I think that this is a strength, as it allows the band to really focus on those songs and make them the best they can be. When you read and hear that Free Spirit is a throw back to 80’s rock, it is 100% true and it is a style of music that has been lacking in today’s music scene. There are 80’s bands still alive and kicking but even most of their music today does not sound like what they did in the 80’s.
The band as a whole is a tight sounding, and hard rocking unit that deserves to be heard all over the world. I had difficulties finding the cd to buy but the band supplied me with the link to get the cd and I will do everything in my power to get their name and their music more notice in this part of the world.
There is so much fantastic music in the world we miss out on because we will not allow ourselves to find it. Do yourself a favor and listen to Free Spirit and thank me later!
I can not ever give anything I review a 10/10 as I think it is impossible to create perfection but this album is damn close.
Buy Pale Sister Of Light here: