Charon - Songs For The Sinners
Spinefarm Records
Gothic Rock/Metal
10 songs (43.15)
Release year: 2005
Charon, Spinefarm Records
Reviewed by Joe
Archive review

With their fifth studio album, these Finns have served up another good slice from the gothic rock/metal pie. I got into Charon (prenounced car-on, being the name of the ferryman who took your soul to the otherworld in the Greek religion for those three people that care) with their previous album The Dying Daylights, and while their latest Songs For The Sinners isn't a massive improvement in terms of sound, it certainly isn't a disappointment and remains a solid release in the crowded Finnish gothic metal market with a flawless production, but when Mikko Karmilla is in charge you would expect nothing less.

SFTS has a great mix of pace from start to end, with flat out rockin tunes like Rain and Ride On Tears to slower ballad songs like Air to more mid paced heavier numbers like Colder and Bullet. I feel Charon are at their best when delivering the faster songs and would have liked to have heard more like this, possibly two too many slower songs for this listener but hey, this is what they've given.
Only one slight change to the line up, with guitarist Lauri Tuohimaa coming in for Jasse Von Hast, but I can't hear any change in the sound because of this. With two guitarists, Charon do make good use of a strong rhythm section complemented with plenty of lead guitar passages and short-but-sweet solos. I feel sometimes that bands with twin guitars squander this fact with both guitarists playing the same parts and no clear break between the rhythm and lead parts, but Charon do have some interesting melodies and a great sound with Tuohimma and Sipla duelling away like there's no tomorrow.
The star of the show is of course lead singer J.P. Leppaluoto, with a deep voice but one that can sound very sorrowful and passionate during the slower songs and loud and on edge during the faster numbers, he remains steadfast and consistent throughout the whole album, a perfect match for the meaningful and deeply personal lyrics he writes, but written in such a way that isn't obvious and can be interpreted in many ways: the hallmark of any great lyricist.

The sixth and seventh members in a way are backing vocalist Jenny Heinonen and celloist Marko Manninen respectively. Heinonen provides a great contrast to Leppaluoto's voice, although mostly left to harmony parts, she does provide a nice touch and is not immediately noticable until after a few listens but is definitely worth adding to the songs.
Although only appearing on three songs, Manninen is a great boon to the album's sound, none more prominent than in Air, without it, the track would be good, but with the cello, it is excellent, subtle changes add great depth, a trait that exudes throughout the album. Much like Leppaluoto's voice, a deep and brooding presence is brought to the songs, adding a darker edge that it seems only the cello can do. Obviously a slight Apocalyptica influence in there, but anytime you add cellos and metal music, you'll get that comparison and in no way is that a negative comment either.
It takes a few listens to hear it, but like the cello, a sitar makes an appearance on She Hates, a hammond organ with a great solo on Colder, and with this Charon seem to have taken great care in arranging all these instruments to give the sound a boost, rather than just for the hell of it.

Perhaps the track that shows Charon at their very best would be Gray. It seems to encompass everything great about the band, great twin guitar licks, moody vocals and subtle change ups, fantastic stuff. I wouldn't say the album ends with an epic track, but an epic feel for Charon. House Of The Silent seems to build up and up to a fantastic ending solo leading to a great melody that closes the album.

Like I mentioned earlier, not a terrible lot has changed from The Dying Daylights, but overall a better album, both technically and in the song writing. A very moody and heavy album, full of interesting melodies, deeply moving vocals and a great sound that does indeed take quite a few listens to fully appreciate, but once you have, it's a great ride.

Killing Songs :
All great, but especially Rain, Ride On Tears, Gray, House Of The Silent
Joe quoted 88 / 100
Other albums by Charon that we have reviewed:
Charon - The Dying Daylights reviewed by Jack and quoted 85 / 100
Charon - Downhearted reviewed by Jack and quoted 95 / 100
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