Hallatar is a new band formed by the ranks of Swallow the Sun and Trees of Eternity guitarist Juha Raivio, Amorphis vocalist Tomi Joutsen, and former HIM drummer Gas Lipstick. Based on the writings, poetry, and lyrics of the late Aleah Starbridge, vocalist and writer of Trees of Eternity. Aleah passed away in 2016.
The voice of the angels. The voice of the nightingale… Aleah’s memory and her flame will be cherished and carried through Hallatar’s new album. As a huge and devoted fan of Trees of Eternity, I’m excited and humbled that Juha is going to share this with us. Although, I find that through loss, sometimes the only thing you have left is the shell of what was. Bringing to life the darkness of loss, making it palpable and illuminating it can be even more painful. None of us, on the outside, can truly understand the darkness and devastation her loved ones have gone through since her passing. Hopefully this will bring forth much needed healing and inspiration from her words. I have only the highest regard and anticipation for this album. It’s something the world needs in its dire hour.
Some words from the band:
Juha Raivio explains the genesis of Hallatar: “After the death of my beloved and my life partner Aleah Starbridge last April, 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 on April 18th, 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.”
Adds Gas Lipstick, “I am grateful and very honored to be asked to join this band. 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 favorite 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.”
Continues Tomi Joutsen: “I have known Juha from the year 2007, when we worked together for the first time. 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.”
They’ve now begun making the music video for the song “Mirrors”. Expect darkness, doom, and sadness. Expect that with each lyric, to be a haunting reminder of how fragile and mortal true beauty is. Expect the incandescence to forever linger through each chord struck, through each heartbeat of drums, and the pain of the song.
Expect to see the riveting soul of Aleah shine forth.
“You made me see my weakness
Where I thought that I was safe” – Aleah