Review Summary: A perfect rock album, full of meaning and purpose.
Poets of the Fall are a rock band from Helsinki, Finland. The majority of the music is written and recorded by the three founding members, Marko Saaresto (lead vocals), Olli Tukiainen (lead guitar) and Markus "Captain" Kaarlonen (keyboards, production).
Poets are quite unique in their delivery. Nothing they do could be considered groundbreaking by structure, but the way they deliver the music feels genuine and fresh. It is dirty at times and weeping the next. With vocals that grab you at the core, powerful guitars, and a driving and talented rhythm section, Carnival of Rust is a must listen.
The immediate thing that is noticed is that Marko's vocals take center stage from opener Fire thereon. His voice fills up the air around you with a stadium sized presence. His range is commendable and always progressive throughout the album. It's absolutely perfect for this band and for the genre as well. His lyrics are typical in subject at times, but spoken in a way that leads astray from insipid writing. This is to say there are some clever metaphors and stellar poetic structures. Marko seems dedicated to these words, like they are being permeated on his soul. The way he sings the title track "Carnival of Rust" is absolutely enthralling.
"It's all a game, avoiding failure when true colors will bleed
All in the name of misbehavior and the things we don't need
I lust for after no disaster can touch us anymore and more than ever I hope to never fall
Where enough is not the same it was before"
This then bursts into a supremely memorable chorus. This happens many times and there is not a single weak song on the album. Hooks are everywhere, and you can feel the enjoyment and feeling in playing these songs.
The guitars of Olli and Jaska are equally soaring. Often creatively effects driven, they fill up the rest of the dynamic range with atmosphere, grit and riffs. There is much variation to the guitar work as well, going from classic rock solos and ballads to more progressive leads and crunchy rock riffs. I will also add that the bass is audible and tasteful. It will in fact, lead some songs along, like in "King of Fools". The bass in that song is incredibly meaningful. There is no shortage of bass here. The drums tend to stay out of the way unfortunately, though there is a good variation of production drum-wise. It sounds like they really went out of their way to find the right drums and tones.
Piano, keyboard, samples, and orchestra pieces are well implemented on a majority of the tracks. They are never in the way, and only serve to add atmosphere in most but not all songs. Sometimes they do indeed drive the song like in the final chorus in "All the way for you", or in the luscious and beautiful ballad "Dawn". Dawn closes the album in an epic fashion. Everything about this song is heart wrenching. A perfect way to close the album for sure.
There is one thing I find troubling about Carnival of Rust. The production is overdone. It sounds like things are a little too compressed, and it can squeeze a little life out of some songs. This is actually more noticeable on later albums, especially Temple of Thought. Do not let this turn you away because:
This album truly is classic through my eyes and ears. It is the most consistently strong album I have heard in a long time. With extraordinary lyrics and songwriting to be found here, Poets deserve a lot of attention and success for creating a perfect rock album, full of meaning and purpose.