Gildan's Guide to Good Music: Todesbonden - Sleep Now, Quiet Forest

Gildan's Guide to Good Music

The world of music is a vast ocean of crap - join me on a voyage to the tiny isolated islands of excellence.

As the tagline not so subtly suggests, it's really easy to find terrible music - you have but to turn on your radio, and lo, bad music abounds. The good stuff though, well that's rarely quite so easy to find, and while some popular music actually deserves the accolades it receives[1], most excellent music languishes in comparative obscurity. And that's where I come in!

What I aim to accomplish with these articles is to showcase quality albums from bands you've[2] never heard of, in the hopes that at least one of the comparative handful of people who actually read my rambling and rampantly egotistical definitely quite humble reviews has found them useful[3].

Tonight I'm training my critical ear and rapier wit[4] on a wonderful album from one of the various bands I've encountered via Pandora.



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Todesbonden

Sleep Now, Quiet Forest

Musical Genre: Celtic/World/Classical/Metal
Running Time: 55 minutes
# of Tracks: 11
Particularly noteworthy songs: Surya Namaskara, Fading Empire, Battle of Kadesh

Todesbonden - based solely on the name, and the metal part of that genre description, you probably guessed that they're some obscure Scandinavian band. Well congratulations, you're completely correct almost entirely wrong! They're actually from Virginia. Definitely quite obscure though, so you got that part right at least!

Todesbonden is the brainchild of Laurie Ann Haus, an operatic soprano from various bands and projects you've almost certainly never heard of (I certainly hadn't heard of any of them prior to writing this) across a fairly broad spectrum, from Death Metal to Folk. As you might have guessed from my genre description above, Todesbonden melds many of Haus' disparate musical influences into a very intriguing whole.

Their lineup consists of the usual guitars/bass/drums/keyboards you might expect from a metal act, with extremely welcome addition of a violin - I cannot stress highly enough how much I love the string instruments. Session performers further expand the musical tapestry on this album with the addition of flutes and the kantele[5], and the end result is a delightful feast for the ears.

So what do they actually sound like? Good question! I've seen them compared to bands like Nightwish, but while I can sort of see how one might draw a parallel I'd be hesitant to make that comparison myself. For one thing, Nightwish, while certainly a female-fronted symphonic metal band that until recently featured an operatic soprano vocalist, is far more up-tempo and energetic fare - Todesbonden songs tend to be more introspective and contemplative, and the ratio of metal to other musical styles in their compositions is much lower on average.

In point of fact, depending on the song you listen to, you might not conclude that Todesbonden is a metal band at all - they definitely are of course, but it's as if they approached Metal from the other side: Symphonic Metal acts typically merge classical elements (strings, choirs, what have you) with another pre-existing metal sub-genre, thus starting from Metal and moving towards more classical fare. With Todesbonden, what you have is more like a world-influenced hybrid of Celtic folk and classical that decided their sound could use the inclusion of Rock's more awesome offspring - Metal is a part of their sound, but not necessarily the predominant portion.

The result is pure ear candy, a positively lush soundscape that seamlessly fuses all the best elements from the source genres together and creates something better than any of those parts alone. And I've basically exhausted my ability to explain their overall sound and I just started this paragraph... hmm. Ah! I should probably touch on just what I meant by "World-influenced" earlier: Todesbonden's main non-metal influences are definitely Celtic-folk and straight-forward classical composition (the song "Flow My Tears" essentially is just classical), but Laurie will utilize vocal techniques derived from Middle Eastern music in those otherwise Celtic sounding songs. It works surprisingly well - one of my favorite tracks on the album, Surya Namaskara, is an essentially lyric-less song I'd describe as a sort of Celtic battle march meets Metal, but with a wonderful Middle Eastern flair (I know that sounds weird, but give it a listen and tell me I'm wrong, heh).


My apologies for the crappy YouTube quality of the second track - I couldn't find recordings of any track on the album besides Surya Namaskara that didn't sound tinny, and since that one doesn't have any words in it I figured I'd best include something with lyrics, lest I give you an inaccurate impression of the rest of the album. The mixing on Sleep Now, Quiet Forest is among the best I've ever heard, so it's especially painful to me as an audiophile to hear YouTube butcher the balance, bleh. Hopefully you can overlook that!

And with that, another entry in the Guide to Music that is Good, unlike other music which is not good, comes to a close - as always, I welcome any feedback you care to provide me with, unless that feedback is you disagreeing with my definitive proclamations (as the sole arbiter of quality!) that the music I enjoy is good, in which case I'll still welcome it but there will probably be far more mockery involved.

Other entries in Gildan's Guide to Good Music

Orphaned Land - The Never Ending Way Of ORwarriOR
Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day
Ride The Sky - New Protection
Karmakanic - Who's The Boss In The Factory?
The Romanovs - ...And The Moon Was Hungry...
Penumbra - Seclusion
Within Temptation - The Heart Of Everything
Octavia Sperati - Grace Submerged
Virgin Black - Requiem - Mezzo Forte
Allen/Lande - The Battle
Devin Townsend Project - Addicted
Beyond Twilight - Section X
Katatonia - Night Is The New Day
After Forever - After Forever
The 69 Eyes - Back In Blood
Red Circuit - Homeland
Hurt - Vol. 1
Myrath - Desert Call
Ayreon - The Human Equation
Nocturnal Rites - The 8th Sin
Witchbreed - Heretic Rapture
Arjen A. Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age
Agua de Annique - Pure Air
Joe Bonamassa - The Ballad of John Henry
Taal - Skymind

Want to be notified whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article? Well now you can join the Guide to Good Music notification service group, and receive a notification whenever I post a new Guide to Good Music article! Huzzah.

[1] In which case it is certainly good music, but you don't really need me to tell you about it, now do you?
[2] Certainly true of the average person on the street, but there's always the possibility that as a member of The Escapist you have indeed heard of some of the various bands I review, in which case you get a (metaphorical) high five.
[3] Whether that's always the case is debatable, as these articles of mine generally don't receive a great deal of comments or views - but that's okay, since I write mainly to amuse myself. Feedback, while nice, is merely an optional extra.
[4] Self aggrandizement is fun, whee!
[5] A traditional plucked string instrument in the zither family.

You and I have very similar tastes in music it seems...

Anyway, great review! I honestly love these guys and really all celtic metal.

Julianking93:
You and I have very similar tastes in music it seems...

Yeah, I got that impression from things you've posted elsewhere in music threads, so this just confirms it. Now of course I'm curious what you thought of the various other bands I've featured, like say... Ride The Sky or Karmakanic?[1]

Anyway, great review! I honestly love these guys and really all celtic metal.

Thanks - it's always nice to learn somebody else here actually listens to Todesbonden, they're not exactly a household name even among our fellow metal enthusiasts, heh.

[1] I'm most assuredly not just mentioning those two reviews in particular because they never got any comments and I'm trying to indirectly bump them, no sirree!

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Don't know either of those bands but I will be giving them a listen later.

And no, they aren't but they really should be. Celtic metal and progressive metal are my two favorite genres of metal so any bands that fit into that category are always a welcome addition to my iTunes library.

That and Japanese metal. I kinda have a thing for that.

And no, of course you're not ;)

Julianking93:

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Celtic metal and progressive metal are my two favorite genres of metal so any bands that fit into that category are always a welcome addition to my iTunes library.

That and Japanese metal. I kinda have a thing for that.

And no, of course you're not ;)

Exactly - my motives are entirely clear and above board, yes indeed!

But speaking of progressive metal, are you at all familiar with Beyond Twilight? They've composed some fascinating dark sci-fi concept albums that are really quite excellent, but I've never encountered anyone else who's heard of them[1]. I was thinking of writing up one of their albums next... though the cover artwork might be a bit of an issue. Eh, I should be fine - nobody pays much attention to these anyways, heh.

[1] I only know about them thanks to my entirely justifiable obsession with Jorn Lande, as he was the vocalist on their first album.

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Never heard of them before but that song was pretty fucking awesome.

Sounded like a mix between Nightwish and...um...I'm not really sure who that singer sounds like but it's pretty cool.

I'll have to listen to more.

Julianking93:

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Never heard of them before but that song was pretty fucking awesome.

Sounded like a mix between Nightwish and...um...I'm not really sure who that singer sounds like but it's pretty cool.

I'll have to listen to more.

Good question on the vocalist front - from memory I believe that's... Kelly Sundown Carpenter? I couldn't tell you off hand what else he's done though, just that he's American (the rest of the band isn't) and that he's not with Beyond Twilight anymore - they don't really tend to stick with vocalists. That song was from their second album; as I mentioned earlier, Jorn Lande was the vocalist for the first album[1] (The Devil's Hall of Fame), and Bjorn Jansson (Tears of Anger, Ride The Sky) handled the third (For The Love Of Art And The Making), and Wikipedia tells me they've got someone else I've never heard of (Jacob Hansen) on lead vocals now.

Given that all their previous albums were excellent, I'm not especially worried that their next effort will disappoint - switching things up like that seems to work for them, heh.

[1] As Beyond Twilight, they released a couple of albums under the name Twilight, I think they might have also shifted styles when they changed names.

something told me this would be very meh.

i should listen to that voice more often.

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Which would you say is Beyond Twilight's best album?

Julianking93:

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

Which would you say is Beyond Twilight's best album?

Though it pains my Jorn Lande worshiping brain to type this, probably the one I linked you to (though the first is also really good!). The third one, while not in any way bad, is way more abstract and doesn't really have a coherent tone or narrative. Also it's actually just one 37 minute song broken into 43 different tracks, so some of the 'song fragments' are only a few seconds long - apparently the motive behind that is you can put it on shuffle and experience the album in new ways each time, since the song fragments are supposedly self-contained and will flow in any order (haven't tested this myself).

So yeah, I'd say Section X is their best album so far. Also their creepiest, if you know the backstory.

Gildan Bladeborn:
snip

I saw that little synopsis on Wikipedia.

Sounded fucking brutal :P

I will definitely be picking this up soon. It's quirky, disturbing and pure awesome!

 

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