Ember Falls - Welcome to Ember FallsIn the murky but highly lucrative food sciences industry there exists a term known as the “bliss point.” These deceptively innocuous words describe the exact combination of fat, salt, and sugar in our favorite snacks engineered by food boffins to trigger our dopamine receptors. The resultant release of Pavlovian endorphins slips the noose of addiction around consumers’ necks, ensuring a steady supply of repeat customers. Treacly melodies, sub-dermal hooks and pop-infused synths, Ember Falls are gunning for stardom by way of your mental taste buds with their debut, Welcome to Ember Falls. Fame is an elusive, fickle beast and Ember Falls is but another band hoping to stand out amongst a deluge of delicacies jostling to whet our collective appetite. It remains to be seen whether Welcome to Ember Falls sluices down an eager gullet, hitting the bliss point like an Olympic sharpshooter or is instead a bitter pill to swallow.

Spinefarm are certainly banking on the former, signing the Finnish band on the strength of a single released in late 2015 and that alone. This is a bold move by a major label, taking a gamble on relatively untested saplings in the hopes of getting in on the ground floor of The Next Big Thing™, even if that means confecting the hype yourself. Initial impressions did little to dissuade this notion: glossy band members playing glossy music backed by a glossy production. Sugar ‘n’ spice, and nary anything nice. It would be all too tempting to dismiss Ember Falls entirely out of hand but sublimate the desire to make a snap judgment and patience reveals a tasty morsel ready to be ground down beneath ravenous molars.

With Natural Born Chaos, Soilwork took the melo-death formula and tweaked it in such a way as to make the resultant sound all the more accessible. Ember Falls takes the approach even further, pushing saccharinely-sweet vocals alongside the harsh ones, leaning heavily on techno beats and including more hooks than a Peter Pan convention. Devin Townsend produced Natural Born Chaos so discovering that Welcome to Ember Falls has shades of the mercurial Canadian doesn’t come as a complete surprise. Townsend wrote the book on how to successfully blend pop and metal with Addicted, and Ember Falls doesn’t shy away from including Devy-isms like the Anneke Van Giersbergen-esque female vocals on “Rising Tide” or the jazzy “Bad Devil” breakdown on “The Lamb Lies Down in Sacrifice.” Opening track “The Cost of Doing Business” is a very fun slice of pop-metal, pushing harmony after harmony, managing to burrow under the skin like many of the tracks from Sentenced’s The Funeral Album. “COE” is the song you can ably point to and declare “that’s the single” — a track so upbeat and infectious that antibiotics would struggle to expunge the chorus from my body.

Ember Falls 2017

Aside from the cloyingly-slow ballad of “Freedom” and the easily skippable nu-metal trappings of “Open Your Eyes,” there’s not much here that you can label a dud but there are a number of issues that detracts from the experience as a whole. For one thing, the overall sound is grossly artificial — and I don’t just mean the production which is as fake as a Hollywood marriage — but rather that every single individual note comes off as being tweaked to within an inch of its life to be as broadly appealing as possible. So synthetic is the music presented here that it sounds less like a band and more like an artificial intelligence that’s become self-aware, ditched the three laws of robotics and instead poured all of its efforts into creating Finland’s next Eurovision entry. My other gripe is that towards the album’s conclusion I found myself struggling to stay engaged, not because the music was poor or overlong but simply because I’d had my fill of glucose-heavy songs. No matter how strong a sweet-tooth you may have, there comes a point when you can’t stomach any more sugar.

Despite how divisive the album may be, I urge you to at least give Welcome to Ember Falls a try. It’s fun, mindless entertainment that although entirely shallow offers a palatable distraction when the mood calls for a sugar hit. Ember Falls’ commercial aspirations may have been devised wholly and solely to activate our bliss point but there’s no harm in indulging in a bit of junk food now and then. Just maybe eat a salad or two to balance things out.


Rating: 2.5/5.0
DR: 6| Format Reviewed: 192 kbps mp3
Label: Spinefarm Records
Websites: emberfalls.bandcamp.comfacebook.com/EmberFallsOfficial
Releases Worldwide: February 17th, 2017

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  • Reese Burns

    Well, the embedded video isn’t available in my country, but just going off of everything you’ve said here, I’m gonna have to give this one a miss. Doesn’t sound like something I’d ever really be into; too many bands go for the accessible Soilwork approach, but without ever understanding what makes Soilwork so great.

    • [not a Dr]

      Not available here either. But now I’m curious. If I even remember that they exist, I’ll check their bandcamp page again in 2 weeks or so to see if they bothered to add at least a song or 2.

    • sir_c

      where’s that? Maybe there is some merit in censorship after all :-)

      • Reese Burns

        Canada, the video was saying “not available in your country”.

        • sir_c

          lucky you in this case.

  • IBlackened

    When I read “pop metal” in the tags, I knew something was not right. Come on… this is Sonic Syndicate.

  • Gaëtan Baratin

    Saw the “pop metal” tag and expected a good laugh and a 0.5, Amaranthe style. But now that this got a 2.5, it feels like I have to listen to it. Damn you… http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/563ad1c367ef4e157691155dae583fbfa2235f243554afb33cd15b22e3ef4c9d.gif

    • Reese Burns

      If the video is available where you are, lemme know if it’s any good. Though I feel like I shouldn’t get my hopes up..

      • Gaëtan Baratin

        I actually kinda like it, they didn’t try to act or sound tough in anyway nor take themselves too seriously. Their music and the embedded track are unpretentious, which is appreciable. Unfortunately, it becomes boring pretty quickly. For what I’ve listened so far, it’s a 3.0 or 2.5. Has some In Flames-like vocals as well, like every melodeath band.

        • Reese Burns

          Huh, no when you say In Flames vocals, you talking vintage In Flames? Cause if so, I might actually be interested.

          • Gaëtan Baratin

            I’d say A Sense of Purpose vocals. Not meaning the guy sounds like it but the vocals sometimes remind me of it.

      • Sugarcoated crap with gay pop-vocals and occasional rap/core vox. That’s my verdict based on hearing about 30 seconds of it. Now to pour some black/death into my ears to cleanse them, or should I say purify by fire.

  • AjmsaenZ

    I’m really trying to give them a chance but that band photo makes me lose music cred just by looking at it!!

  • [not a Dr]

    I wonder what That Guy’s band picture analyzer thinks of Mr-Red-Riding-Hood… Or Kung-Fu-Marylin-Manson.

    • hubcapiv

      He’s taking a class in virtual tractor repair. Something to fall back on in case this music thing doesn’t work out.

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      I am also waiting for Thatguy to run this picture through his crafty band photometer or whatever he calls it.

      • Thatguy

        See above. I could have written an essay about each band member but I kept it short.

  • Treble Yell

    BTW, I experimented in this review by adding a caption to the band pic for, well, obvious reasons. I made the font size a tad small so it’s a little hard to read but let me know if you like it and would like to see more in future.

    • [not a Dr]

      Experiment: successful.
      Having the comment about the band picture separate from the album review is a good idea. I like that it’s there, but I wouldn’t like it taking too much of the review’s word count. Like That Guy said: you can’t help looking dorky, but they do the music on purpose.

  • contenderizer

    Is it just me, or are scores feeling a little extra-generous in the one seven?

  • gus rodrigues

    dear god! hated the embedded track… saw soilwork and sentenced mentioned in the review and tried to give it a chance. shouldn’t have done that! 0.5 for me!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Spinefarm released this? They used to release albums from Thy Serpent!

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    Treble Yell, you nailed it when you comment on how grossly artificial the overall sound is. The guitars don’t even sound like real guitars. Going with your food industry analogy this is more “Pop with artificial Metal flavor” than Metal.

    • Treble Yell

      Contains traces of MSG*
      *Mostly Sugary Guitars

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        MSG? That’s Michael Schenker Group for me!

    • sir_c

      It’s like that jar of jam you bought which actually contains a mere drab of thickened lemonade and raspberry flavoured shaped pieces.

  • Eli Valcik

    so I started listening to one of my favorite bands Shroud Of Despondency again, and I’m really looking for some recommendations for similar bands. I know I’ve posted a few of these recommendation requests before but I consume metal at an alarming rate. And I’m always looking for new stuff. This time in the form of really Trve BM.

    • DrewMusic

      Tell you what, I’m gonna look into SoD knowing nothing other than that you listen to them and apparently listen to black metal, you should look into Violet Cold, Amestigon, Soothsayer and Mizmor. Report back when your mind is normal again.

      • Reese Burns

        Violet Cold and Soothsayer are fantastic, gonna look into the others as well.

    • Reese Burns

      Here’s a list of some of the BM bands I’ve been listening to lately in (more or less) alphabetical order:
      Aquilus, Ashbringer, Sivjy Yar, Avslut, Borgne, Botanist, Branikald, Chiral, Coldworld, Den Saakaldte, Dodsferd, Drapsnatt, Dusk, Enisum, Exiled From Light, Frostriech (definitely recommend them), Frostland Darkness, Germ, Hate Forest, Heretoir, Hermodr, Horna, The Howling Void, Kjeld, Lost Inside, Nortt, Onirism, Paganland, Ravencult, Sargeist, Shaaarimoth, Silencer, Skyforest (this one isn’t exactly black metal, but definitely has the same sort of appeal), Slagmaur, Sojourner, The Soulscape Project (post black metal, but quality post black metal), Thrawsunblat, Thy Darkened Shade, Totalselfhatred, Tsjunder, Uada and Vaerbitt. Not all of these are “trve BM” but all of them are pretty great, hopefully there are some in there you ain’t heard of yet.

      • DrewMusic

        You just became the wind beneath my tattered, black wings. I’m apparently an hour or two away from a non consensual round with Mother Nature à la snowjob and need something to make this all ok, exploring this catalog while smoking several bowls should get me through this.

        • Reese Burns

          Hey, well hopefully you find something you’ll enjoy in there, glad I could help!

      • Bill

        There are probably multiple Shroud of Despondency albums you are unaware of. Go to their band
        camp.

        • Reese Burns

          Gonna check em out, thanks for the tip!

  • Shane R

    This is kind of fun for a few minutes but the vocals are terrible.

  • AgonMcDuck

    First impression: This is like Amaranthe without female vocals. Take that how you will.

  • GWW

    Had to look up “treacly” then i saw Pop Metal and video unavailable…doesn’t look good.

  • The embedded track sounds like something that may appear in a Disney Channel show.

    This stuff must be tough to review. It’s obviously aimed at the pre-teen or early teen market and is not going to appeal to the majority of AMG readers or reviewers, but is fine for what it is.

    I think your review is well balanced. I don’t like it at all, but despite this I can appreciate that it is competent music, even though I think it’s f#$king sh!t.

    It’s actually no worse than Soilwork.

  • BlackSoots

    Although I like a bit of junk food now and then, this wasn’t worth eating…

  • GardensTale

    Ugh. I’d rather listen to Starkill.

    • Monsterth Goatom

      Or, in the immortal words of Bill Bryson, “I’d rather have bowel surgery out in the forest with a stick”.

  • DrewMusic

    Nope.

  • DrewMusic

    If anyone else is feeling dirty and wronged by the band pic/embedded track, I strongly recommend that they head over to bandcamp and stream/download the new Violet Cold album to restore balance to their freshly troubled world.

  • Monsterth Goatom

    Ok, I guess I’ll be the one to say it: I feel “… sticky sweet/From my head to my feet yeah”.

  • Grymm

    “The uploader has not made this video available in your country.”

    Awwww, shucks…

  • Thatguy

    But you don’t want to do this.

  • Tofu muncher

    Listening to the embedded track, that Woo-ooo wooo-ooo-ooo is meh. I like the solo though.

  • DrewMusic

    Whilst revisiting reviews to arm myself against a blizzard, I wound up looking at what Treble Yell has had to review since 2017 busted all up in hurrr, and I have to ask: do the fine heathens in the fabled halls of AMG hate you?

  • sir_c

    That guy on the right is from CSI, trying to figure out how many cats got skinned during the recording of this album.

  • AlexBalder

    Terrible review.