Released in November last year, Trees Of Eternity’s debut album, Hour Of The Nightingale, tragically proved to be the swansong for vocalist Aleah Liane Starbridge, who succumbed to cancer soon after the record had been recorded. Her work, however, is due to live on, in the form of Hallatar, a new band featuring her partner, Trees Of Eternity and Swallow The Sun guitarist Juha Raivio, alongside Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen and former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick.
Due out on October 13 via Svart Records, Hallatar’s debut album, No Stars Upon The Bridge, is lyrically based on Leah’s lyrics and poems, and deeply engrained with her spirit too, as Juha explains:
”After the death of my beloved and my life partner Aleah Starbridge on April 18th a year ago, he explains, “I have been gathering writings, lyrics, and the poems of Aleah to keep them safe and close to my heart. About one month after the world came down on the blackest day of my life, I knew I needed to pick up the guitar and try to create something or I would be truly destroyed. And something did arrive out of the darkness, and I wrote the music for the Hallatar album in a week’s time. I don’t have much memory of this week, not a memory of a single day of writing the music. But all I remember when going into this abyss of the writing process was a promise to myself that whatever music would come out, I would not touch or change anything of it afterwards. What mattered was that the music would stay forever as an absolute truth of those moments as they came out. I asked my good friends – and amazing musicians – Tomi Joutsen and Gas Lipstick if they would want to record this music with me, and both of them said yes without even hearing a note of it. I am forever grateful to both of them for sharing this road with me; even the weight of the process has not been easy to carry, or will be.”
The band are offering a preview of the album in the form of the emotionally crushing Mirrors, the first music video to be taken from No Stars Upon The Bridge, and co-directed by renowned Finnish artists Aapo Lahtela and Vesa Ranta. Immerse yourself in Mirrors below, and scroll down for further testimony to Aleah’s life and legacy from Juho’s bandmates and fellow travellers into the twilight.
“I am grateful and very honoured to be asked to join this band,” says Gas Lipstick. “Juha is a dear friend of mine since many years ago, and when he told me about his vision for Hallatar and asked me to join, I said yes instantly – I just had to be part of this amazing journey. I had never heard a single note of the music before I gave my ‘yes’ because I didn’t need to. Juha has been one of my favourite songwriters already for years, and I knew that Hallatar will be a very deep, personal, and one-of-a-kind story which I wanted to help him to bring alive.”
“I have known Juha from the year 2007, when we worked together for the first time,” adds Tomi Joutsen. “A couple years ago, I had the privilege to meet Juha’s life partner, Aleah Starbridge, who was such a beautiful person, inside and outside, and had an angelic voice out of this world. Aleah lent her voice on the latest Amorphis album, and we called her ‘the whispering ghost.’ When I heard about Aleah’s passing last spring, it came as a total shock and heartbreaking news out of the blue. When Juha asked me if I would want to be part of this album and carry Aleah’s flame with him, I didn’t have to think twice. When everything has been taken, all that is left is the music. The sorrow strips us naked and leave us humble – this is how it sounds like.”
Concludes Raivio, “What we recorded was a raw moment in time honoring the memory, lyrics, and poems of Aleah Starbridge with all its pain, beauty and darkness. There are no stars left upon the bridge to light the way anymore, but the music will always be a dim light, even in the darkest of the night.”
Check out the Hallatar Facebook page here.