Imagine my surprise when I came home from work and I saw a message from Sami Alho, the lead singer of Free Spirit. He and the guys were gracious and kind enough to send me a digital advanced copy of the new CD “All The Shades Of Darkened Light” to review. I have been a huge fan, supporter and champion of the Finnish band since I first heard their debut CD “Pale Sister Of Light.” I was fortunate to review that CD and also had the tremendous opportunity to interview the band.
I can not tell you how excited I am to listen to this album weeks before it will be shipped to me as I have already pre-ordered the CD. I will discuss each track on the album, give an overall impression of the disc and also work out a numerical score for the CD. The band has also shared some information about themselves and the album which I will include as well.
LET’S DO THIS!!!!!!
#1 – NIGHTS OF PARADISE – WOW!!! The opening bass line is simply amazing!! Sami Hämäläinen sets the tone for the entire track with a thumping bass guitar that drives the song forward. Sami Alho’s distinct and melodic vocals are really one of the signatures of this band and it is in fine form here. The band’s harmonies are really tight and this song really echoes back to when some of the best arena rock band’s dominated the 1980’s. The guitar solo grabs a hold you and really shines in this song. Amazing!!!!
#2 – LIVING TATTOO – The first single from the new album, Living Tattoo is the band adding a bit of rawness to their sound. It is a bit more raunchy than their usual style but boy does it work. Once again the pulsating bass line is the backbone of the song but it is in time with the drumming of Pasi Koivumäki and the two lock down the track. The guitar work is taken up a notch in this one as both Vesa Yli-Mäenpää and Marko Haapamäki just play like mad men on this track. Free Spirit possesses some of the bet vocals in rock and roll. Sami once again does a fantastic job with the singing chores and the band’s trademark harmony is once again on full display.
#3 – HYSTERIA – The second single released off of the album, Hysteria is one of my most listened to songs on a daily basis. This is an all in, foot stomping rock and roll song that will knock you on your ass! The keyboard playing of Timo Alho is showcased here and the band really rallies around him. This song is in the same vein as their previous hit “Far Away From Heaven,” in that this is the Free Spirit signature vibe and sound. American radio should be latching on to this song as it is just that good!
#4 – EVER COME TRUE – The guitars at the start of this song are a little darker than what we are used to from the band. It creates a new edge to their sound and really pushes them in a new direction. I am really digging this song a lot and love the dueling vocal harmonies that crop up in the middle of the track. The guitar work and the vocals on this song really takes this song to an exciting place. I just adore the guitar solo here.
#5 – THE DEW OF THE ROSE – I have to say that the opening “crunch” of this song really sets it up as a true arena rock song. This is something I have not heard in many years and it has been missing from the music scene. Say what you will about arena anthems but Free Spirit avoids the pitfalls of them by not toning down their song but instead really emphasizing the “rock” in arena rock. The band really shows their mastery of the vocal harmonies as it sounds like the entire song is comprised of them but it is a great thing!! The guys are so great at it!
#6 – TURN ON THE NIGHT – AMAZING!!!!! Oh my goodness I love the start to this song!!! It is so simple but damn it is fantastic as it sets up something I have not heard in ages….a true power ballad!!! I am a sucker for a slow ballad and the guys avoid all the things that caused a backlash against power ballads. They do not dumb the song down but instead present what a great power ballad should be. Even though the song starts off simple enough, it is like a boiling pot as it steadily intensifies until it is at it’s peak and boils over. The guys nail it!
#7 – BURNING LOVE – When I say that Free Spirit is a throwback to the glory days of 80’s rock, I mean that in a respectful and positive way. This track sounds like it would fit in with whatever was playing on the radio in the mid to late 1980’s and it makes me realize how great the music was was back when I was growing up. This is exactly what gets me excited about the band, it is REAL music and not something fabricated. Another great track.
#8 – CARRY ON – Sami’s vocals really shine here as he sings with more range than I have heard before and my god what a great harmonized chorus!! The chorus is where the song really will grab you as it is something that you will get stuck in your head, it is that catchy and that good! The drums and bass really set the tempo for this one and the harmonized vocals just add a layer of greatness to what is already an awesome tune! This is what music is all about!
#9 – FEVER – Oh hell yeah!!!!! Another foot stomping, pure rock and roll song that will blow your mind. This would be another huge hit on the radio and I wish North American stations played music like this instead of what they do now. The guitar riffs are fantastic and the solo is something you do not hear many bands do now a days. This is a perfect example of what rock and roll truly is!! All you up and coming bands, listen and take notes!
#10 – SILENCE – Another ballad that brings more power than ballad, it is a bass guitar driven track that features a very haunting vocal performance from Sami and we can hear him really belt this one out. The portion where it is just his hushed singing and the keyboard playing really slows the song down for it to just ramp up again. This song is perfection and would be a “lighter in the air” tune if it was played live.
#11 – STORYLINE – The track that closes out the album is a “vintage” Free Spirit song as it has a great bass line, amazing vocals, strong guitars, prominent keyboards and some of the best vocal harmonies in the music industry today. It is the perfect song to end the experience of this album on as it really further establishes what makes this band unique among all their peers and solidifies what makes them a great band. What a ride!!!
Free Spirit hits it out of the park with “All The Shades Of Darkened Light” and it is an amazing follow up to their debut album “Pale Sister Of Light.” I can truly say that the guys present a sound like nothing else going on in music today and can not stress enough how you should experience it yourself. This album has 11 tight tracks that are diverse enough to really let you catch a glimpse of the many faces of Free Spirit. One of my favorite cover to cover CDs and I say that as a serious musical connoisseur. I could never score any album a perfect 10 as that album will never exist but I will tell you right now, “”All The Shades Of Darkened Light” is a perfect 9.5!!
Free Spirit biography
Free Spirit plays timeless rock with a huge sound. The band reaches out to listeners of all ages with its captivating melodies. This music seems to really enchant its audience and has a strong crossover appeal on it. Massive choruses, killer arrangements and energetic stage appearance are the brand of Free Spirit.
Since the band’s debut album ‘Pale Sister of Light’ was released in 2009 Free Spirit has gathered passionate fans throughout the world. Free Spirit has been featured as the artist of the week, month or even year on many medias all over the world. Songs from the album have been on rotation on many radio stations around the globe and reviews of the album were nothing but ecstatic.
The original members of Free Spirit are Sami and Pasi. Bass player “Nasu” has been also been in the band almost from the day one. The current line-up formed during the years 2006 – 2008. Soon after guitarist Vesa joined the band, the group started recording their first album. During the recording sessions Vesa’s childhood friend Markku joined Free Spirit. Timo, who had previously played keyboards on all of Free Spirit’s studio recordings, also became a full member of the lineup.
Before the release of ‘Pale Sister of Light’ Markku and his family moved to Africa for a few years. That of course meant that a new guitar player had to be found. From the same town where Markku and Vesa lived their childhood, the band were lucky enough to find Marko who has been an inseparable part of Free Spirit since then.
Free Spirit is:
Sami Alho – vocals
Vesa Yli-Mäenpää – guitars & backing vocals
Marko Haapamäki – guitars & backing vocals
Timo Alho – keyboards
Sami “Nasu” Hämäläinen – bass
Pasi Koivumäki – drums
The name Free Spirit was originally picked up from the book Antichrist by the famous philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche where he (in chapter 13) describes a person who is not bound to any religion, politics or -isms, as a free spirit. Of course the idiom free spirit means lots of other things, too (like a problem child), but basically to the band
it means a person who is willing to think and act independently.
During spring 2010 ‘Pale Sister of Light’ was featured on various critics and/or readers “Best of 2009” lists in several international medias. During 2011 the album was released for the video games Rock Band 2 and 3.
The eagerly anticipated follow-up to ‘Pale Sister of Light’ will be released February 28th 2014. With this new album ‘All the Shades of Darkened Light’ the band continues from where it left with its critically acclaimed debut album. The 11 new songs with huge choruses are even more melodic and energetic than before. They tell the story of a summer where days are bright and nights are hot. High octane parties seem to go on forever, but for some they carry a price that is too high.
With the new album the band has started from scratch, which has given more room for imagination and for trying different things. During the ‘Pale Sister of Light’ sessions the band learnt how to create that Free Spirit sound, and with this new album that sound has been taken several steps further. Free Spirit enjoys the freedom in their music making, and wishes to convey that to the listener with the utmost clarity.
Free Spirit produces their own music from start to finish. The new album, like its predecessor, was recorded in the band’s own studio facility, which has allowed for uncompromising meticulousness in its production. Creating the right soundscapes
has included feats such as building custom guitars and acquiring a very certain kind of vintage synthesizer, which was ultimately found from the confines of a studio in Cologne.
The songs are mostly written by Sami and Vesa, but all the band members play a crucial role in the sound that is Free Spirit. The one element that gets special attention during the writing and production of the songs is vocal melodies. The band’s unique approach to multi-layered backing vocals completes the melodies and makes the Free Spirit sound.
‘All the Shades of Darkened Light’ recording sessions started Midsummer Eve 2010 and were finished in summer 2012 when the long editing, mixing and post production phase started. Some of the last overdubs were recorded in January 2013 and the final mix of the album was ready February 17th 2013. During the last overdub sessions with ‘All the Shades of Darkened Light’, former guitar player Markku visited the studio and played few additional tracks.
The first single from the new album, ‘Living Tattoo’, was released mid October 2013. The second single release from the album was ‘Hysteria’. This song was also featured on the soundtrack of a Finnish werewolf-themed motion picture which premiered in theaters on January 24th. Free Spirit’s vocalist Sami Alho plays one of the main roles in the movie.
The music video, based on the movie, is available at Free Spirit’s YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/fssta
Booking & management:
Sami Peura, Sam Agency Oy | firstname.lastname@example.org | +358 40 5900 290 | http://www.samagency.fi
http://www.freespiritrock.com | http://www.facebook.com/freespiritrock | http://www.youtube.com/fssta
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