Counting Hours – The Will [Things You Might Have Missed 2020]

Longtime members of the AMG metal intelligentsia are likely aware I enjoy me some melancholy melodeath and downbeat mope-core. Said intelligentsia may also have noticed I tend to namedrop long-defunct Finnish melodeath act Rapture rather frequently. That’s because I really loved their sound and truly miss them since they called it a day after releasing the excellently bleak Silent Stage way back in 2005. Over the years various bands helped fill the hole left in my wretched soul, but no one could truly replace Rapture. Finland’s Counting Hours may have come as close as inhumanly possibly though with their debut The Will. Featuring several members of Rapture and Shape of Despair, these gents know their way around the gloomy heart of melancholy, and that’s exactly what they serve up ice cold for your depressive delight. Yessir, sadboi heaven arrived in late 2020. Were you paying attention?

If you enjoy the kind of music Rapture specialized in, the material here is an easy sell. It’s a blend of restrained melodeath and depressive Goth/doom-rock that borrows from acts like Katatonia, The Man-Eating Trees and Dawn of Solace. Melancholic moods are all you’ll find on the menu, though an occasional outburst of more vigorous death may appear as a chef’s special. The Will is like a cold, sullen walk through the wintry woods on the way to a dear friend’s funeral, and upbeat moments are strictly verboten. Cuts like “Profound” strongly recall Rapture’s signature sound while also smacking of Tuomas Saukkonen’s dispirited works with Before the Dawn and Black Sun Aeon. It’s a beautifully grim ditty that I loved the second I heard it. The same can be said for “Atonement” with its darker, heavier punch to the feelz. It’s exactly the kind of unhappy music I need more of in my life, especially in our year of suck 2020.

There isn’t a false note or misstep to be found on The Will. Tracks like “To Exit All False” and “Buried in the White” give you all the glum, frowny sounds your inner ennui hoarder could ever want, blending elements of the best Finnish and Swedish depressive metal acts. Elsewhere “Our Triumph” brings a bigger death metal edge to the party in an effort to shake you from your funk before resolving to put you down in the dumps for good.

I don’t know where they found frontman Ilpo Paasela, but they fell into a pot of sticky sadboi gold when they did. He has the perfect voice for this kind of disheartening fare and he can also bring the death metal thunder when the songs call for it. At times he’s a dead ringer for Tuomas Tuominen (Ex. Fall of the Leafe, ex-The Man-Eating Trees) and at others he reminds me of the mysterious singer of Deathwhite. The guitar-work by Jarno Salomaa (Shape of Despair, ex-Rapture) and Tomi Ullgrén (also Shape of Despair, ex-Rapture) is excellently grim and morose. They’ve spent many a year chilling souls and they know their craft inside and out. If there’s a knock on The Will I suppose it could be said it lives too close to its influences. I care not though, and neither should you. The Will is an excellent debut and the best in show for this genre in 2020. Pair it with the latest Dawn of Solace album and settle in for a long, dark winter of discontent. Rapture-ous.

Tracks to Check Out: “Profound,” “Atonement,” “Buried in the White,” and “Our Triumph”

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