Music Spotlight: Poets of the Fall

I love music, and I have this intrinsic need to share the music I love, so I thought I’d do a series of posts to highlight some bands and musicians who may be lesser known but feature prominently in my music collection. The hope is that whoever comes across this blog might be introduced to a new band or musician they like, and I can spread the love far and wide. Or at least as far and wide as this little blog goes, which is not much due to lack of self-promotion and an affinity for solitude, but I digress.

First up are the gods of Nordic rock, Poets of the Fall.

I discovered Poets of the Fall back in 2010 when the video game Alan Wake was released. The band members are good friends with the game’s creator, Sam Lake, who tapped them to record a couple of songs for it under the pseudonym Old Gods of Asgard.

Alan’s encounter with members of the in-game band Old Gods of Asgard

Old Gods of Asgard also feature as memorable side characters in the game. They’re an aging metal band whose music plays a pivotal part in helping the protagonist and player move forward, and there’s one scene in particular that easily places in my top ten favorite gaming moments. If you want to watch the scene, this is a really good YouTube video of it, but I highly recommend playing the game if you haven’t and experiencing it for yourself. One of the best things about the scene is that it’s surprising, organic, and enjoyable in the moment. It’s fun to watch someone else play it, but it’s even more fun to experience it for yourself.

Along with their work as Old Gods of Asgard, the song “War” from PotF’s album Twilight Theater was featured as Alan Wake‘s theme song of sorts, with a tie-in music video. After hearing “War” and experiencing their music in-game, I was hooked. I listened to Twilight Theater on repeat, with the songs “Change” and “15 Min Flame” standing out as particular favorites. Then, of course, I had to check out their previous albums as well.

Fast-forward eight years later, and I’m a die-hard fan. In October of 2018, PotF released their latest album, Ultraviolet. It’s quieter and more studio-sounding than previous albums, with more of an electronic focus than the rock or even folk-driven records we’ve grown accustomed to. I like when bands try new things, and PotF have been around long enough that they deserve to do just that. Lead singer Marko’s silky smooth vocals are still there and are even more refined. Guitarists Ollie and Jaska’s impressive riffs are still there albeit more subdued. Ultraviolet is still very much the same band, just slightly more mature and experimental.

One of my favorite things about PotF is their lyrics. As far as I’m aware, Marko writes most of the lyrics for the band, and “poet” is an incredibly apt descriptor for the way he writes. Most of the songs center on a theme that invokes you to think, some involve intricate wordplay, and all are delivered in Marko’s distinct deep voice. Marko is an artist in the true sense of the word, often adopting alter egos in their music videos to convey a certain concept or feeling. The rest of the band are fantastic in their instrumentation, and any live viewing will quickly reveal how tight they are as a group.

Now comes the hard part: choosing a favorite song and album. PotF are one of those rare bands who stay pretty consistent in quality. I’ve listened to every album all the way through more times than I can count, and there’s something to love in almost every song. It’s hard to go without mentioning songs like the beautiful “Sleep,” the conceptual masterpiece “Carnival of Rust” which may be their most popular, and “The Sweet Escape” from their latest album, which is a departure for them musically but allows keyboardist and mixer Markus (a.k.a. Captain) to shine.

Favorite Song

I’m going with “Temple of Thought” for this one. It’s beautiful lyrically and is a good example of the band’s overall sound. There’s an alternate live studio acoustic version that I adore, which constitutes half of my love for this song.

Favorite Album

Twilight Theater was the album that introduced me to them, so it will always hold a special place in my heart, but it has since been surpassed in my eyes. Since “Temple of Thought” is my favorite song, it’s probably not surprising that Temple of Thought is also my favorite album. It has the most variation musically and the most profundity lyrically. Here’s “The Ballad of Jeremiah Peacekeeper” from Temple of Thought:

The reason I wanted to spotlight Poets of the Fall first in this series, besides just the simple fact that I love their music, is that they’ve been on my mind a lot lately. Not only have I been listening to their new album nonstop, but I also sadly failed to get tickets for their upcoming show at ProgPower USA next year because I wasn’t fast enough. They rarely tour the US since they’re not as widely known here as in their native Finland and other parts of Europe. I’ve been a little distraught about it, knowing it might have been my only chance to see them live unless I can get to a show in Europe someday. I’ve watched their entire Live in Moscow show and several live videos, and they put on a fantastic show. I’m holding out hope I’ll get to see them one day, and I hope you enjoyed this introduction to their music. Cheers, poets!

Header image by Tiia Öhman.

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