Album Review – Poets of the Fall – Jealous Gods (2014)
Availability: iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, Mad Supply and Spotify
Released: 19th September 2014
The premises of Jealous Gods takes place as the last of the trilogy of albums Revolution Roulette (2008), and Twilight Theatre (2010), settling somewhere between both a sequel and prequel of the theme and narration told within the musical structure.
If not familiar with Poets of the Fall, nor their sound, or their usage of conceptual storytelling, instrumentally the first of the trilogy Roulette demonstrated genres grunge, industrial and hard rock, and on occasion a taste of industrial metal; reflective of the protagonist’s troubled state of mind, Marko Saaresto’s reinterpreted vocals swapping from gruff to smooth in sections, even perhaps playful.
Theatre was more fanciful, and as the title suggests theatrical; and was footed in progressive, alternative and acoustic rock. The vocals are melodic, yet the lyrics themselves are in contrast darker in theme to Roulette, foreshadowing further misfortunes.
Jealous Gods being the last rightly explores both sounds, successfully blending industrial, acoustic with folkish/country tints and progressive rock. Because of this, the narrative changes from that of misfortunes (Roulette), plausible hope (Twilight Theatre) to redemption.
Interestingly, Poets of the Fall raise their fans’ attention to their practice of subliminal messaging, which was earlier used in the computer game Alan Wake: American Nightmare (2012), the sequel to Alan Wake (created by Remedy Entertainment). In the song Balance Slayers the Demon (under their pseudonym Old Gods of Asgard), they have a message spoken backwards, referring to the events of a past or future game in the series. Hounds of Hamartia, have a forward speaking message (with the sound effects of a tune-in radio), referring to how the song came to be, and how the verses came to stand.
When the full album became available on YouTube, I got caught up in interesting conversations in the comment sections of different videos of the tracks; Hounds of Hamartia being the key link to fans’ theories of what the song and album was about.
I came up with the concept based on the illustrated stories from the official music videos Dreaming Wide Awake (Twilight Theatre, 2010), and Dazed (Jealous Gods, 2014), and based it on a numeral coding for Hamartia (81131182091) found on the cover of Twilight Theatre, discovered by another fan. I took the narratives literally, and suggested that the main love interest in Revolution Roulette (featured in Miss Impossible, and Save Me) was the woman who appeared in Dreaming Wide Awake, and there was a jest to her having a mysterious past, and in the music video of DWA, the single, and introduction to the album Theatre, had died just as mysteriously. When Daze came along, the video revealed a young woman leaving a carnival/theatre, driving away into the night, with the jester on TT’s cover narrating her journey.
It also visually implied to the carnival, the subject of Twilight Theatre being destroyed by her. This led to the theory for me, that the woman of the first installment was a former employee of the fictional theatre/carnival. Her escape of the theatre/carnival as followed in Jealous Gods, through the eyes of the male protagonist of Roulette, in retrospect to better understand her, after mourning (setting place in Given and Denied, and Rewind). Twilight Theatre was the revelation of their relationship, and later her demise.
Another fan rightly pointed out, when I was discussing that the location of the Twilight Theatre was in a town called Hamartia, (referencing to the ticket and numeral code), that hamartia in tragedies is the demise of good fortune, due to a protagonists’ lack of judgement. Because of Poets of the Fall’s clever, poetic way of words, and storytelling, there’s a strong possibility that Hamartia has a double meaning. It is a fictional location, within the universe, but is also a foretelling of the male protagonists’ future, and indirect downfall through the death of his lover. I came to think the female protagonists’ death in Dreaming Wide Awake was caused by the jester, being her guardian and employee, and the only way to keep her life a secret was to kill her. Thus, leading to her lover’s journey to discover her truths.
It’s also plausible to consider that circuitously, the storyline of the band’s second album Carnival of Rust (2006) – a part of another trilogy Signs of Life (2003) and Temple of Thought (2012), has some connections, because of its use of theatrics, an aftermath of Twilight Theatre’s own demise perhaps, post-Daze. Musically, the progressive, playful, yet sorrowful instrumentals are in-tune with the dynamics of Theatre, and the reflectiveness of Jealous Gods. The fictional character, played by Marko Saaresto in the music video Carnival of Rust (originally released in 2006, remastered in 2009), and later reappeared in Cradled in Love (Temple of Thought, 2012), appears to be a diminished, once powerful jester and leader of the charade, now resorted to a broken man, trapped first inside a fortune machine, waiting for a long-lost love, and later reminiscing on her. Ironically, the young woman from Daze, resembles the female character in Rust, only the latter, is like a memory to how she was when she first arrived, pure, innocent. By CIL, it’s almost as if that the jester has finally reclaimed her, once she died, and he is hallucinating on her entering his home, and once more becoming his, forever keeping the life of the theatre a secret.
Returning to the material of Jealous Gods, by Clear Blue Sky, and Choice Millionaire, which is demonstrating Saaresto’s skills of spoken word (hip-hop/rap, rap rock), the male protagonist introduced in Revolution Roulette, has left Hamartia, and the guilt (metaphorically referred to the hounds, guilt hounding him), has been relieved, and his understanding of his deceased love has been fulfilled. He is now able to start again, and better his choices for the future, which hints to his past in Roulette, notably the song Revolution Roulette. Only this time, the character’s choices are no longer based on a dangerous game, he is free to choose. His, and the woman’s story ends bittersweet in Nothing Remains the Same, the ending track, as after the events of what happened, it has changed his and her life forever, and there is no way of getting those moments back.