Review 2095 : Counting Hours – The Wishing Tomb – English

Counting Hours‘ melancholy is still singing.

Formed in 2015 in Finland by Ilpo Paasela (vocals, The Chant), Tomi Ullgrén (guitar, Shape of Despair, ex-Impaled Nazarene), Jarno Salomaa (guitar, Shape of Despair, ex-Clouds), Markus Forsström (bass, The Chant) and Sameli Köykkä (drums, Cynabare Urne, ex-Colosseum), the band recruited Pekka Loponen (guitar, The Chant) in 2023 to put the finishing touches to The Wishing Tomb, their second album, released by Ardua Music the following year.

The album gets off to a gentle start with Unsung, Forlorn, a calm, soothing introduction that slowly slips into enchanting keyboards before joining Timeless Ones, where the sorrowful vocal parts also appear. At times, the rhythm section offers more energetic passages, giving a more playful dynamic to the airy leads and carrying us on to Away I Flow and its rawer riffs, from which even a few rocky cries emerge to create a visceral contrast with clean vocals. The sound slows down towards the end to become almost solemn, before giving way to All That Blooms (Need To Die), which puts the vocal duality back in the spotlight, while shading it with its airy, melodious harmonics. Gentleness drives into Starlit Lifeless, revealing a new combination of heady tones and a rhythmic pattern that steadily strengthens under dissonance to become more aggressive, then it’s with a reassuring melody that The Wishing Tomb, the eponymous track, begins, accompanying us towards its majestic blaze. The composition remains anchored in its dark, timeless sadness, while No Closure also adopts more abrasive elements that skilfully blend with the musicians’ melancholy and pessimistic harmonies. The band progresses in its neurasthenia before immediately returning to the light with A Mercy Fall, whose tonalities are distinctly different but relatively complementary to the previous ones, which we’ll find again on the lengthy The Well Of Failures in the company of a heavy basis welcoming both types of vocals to make us fully feel their haunting embrace until the very end of the album where the choruses escort us into nothingness.

Counting Hours does much more than bring its ambient sadness to life, the band weaves a veil of apathetic sadness and gripping emotions to lock us in throughout the album, barely allowing us a glimpse of the light they’re playing with.


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