We have a double dose of melancholia for you today — a deeply moving and thoroughly enthralling anthem of sorrow, and a moving epitaph for the band who made the song.
As you will soon understand, the song in question, “Where Eagles Fly Cloudy Skies“, could hardly be better named. Grey skies do loom above the music, but it soars in a way that puts a listener’s heart in their throat, and the memory of it lingers like a formidable spell.
The band who made the song, the Spanish group Autumnal, presented their first demo in 1998, followed by three more from 2000 through 2005 leading up to their debut album Grey Universe in 2006. Eight more years would pass before Autumnal released their second album, The End of the Third Day, and then seven more years of silence would follow that release, a silence only broken now by Autumnal‘s final expression — this song we’re premiering today.
The story of how this song came to be is set out in a lengthy statement referred to above by Oscar Martin (NHT), who performed guitars, vocals, violin, and synths on the track. We’ll provide that statement in full later in this article, but in a nutshell, it explains that the recording was the culmination of two years of work, and also included participation by Autumnal‘s original members as well as a cello performance by Martin‘s daughter Sofia.
To use an overworked but in this case accurate word, the song is a journey, and one that’s capable of softening the hardest of hearts. It begins with a bright and bountiful acoustic guitar melody and rises swiftly through an inspiring guitar solo above hard-hitting bass and drums. The harmonized singing that joins in enhances the feeling of experiencing beautiful memories — though a searing guitar intrusion perhaps foreshadows something darker to come.
The rhythm section continually punch the pulse in riveting ways as those voices and gleaming synths weave their magic. In the song’s mid-section an extended guitar solo tugs at the heart-strings just before the rhythm section vanishes and the music becomes more ethereal, the deep singing more heart-breaking.
Once more, the music soars with the voices, which reach heart-pounding heights of sorrow. The journey’s end is glorious, but tragic, and ultimately reveals a poignant panorama of sound, where the cello makes its contribution, and completes the spell.
Well, people less familiar with our site may wonder why a place that ostensibly vows “no clean singing!” would host a song such as this one, but we’ve always made exceptions to that only half-serious rule where the exception is as well-earned as it is here.
While that spell lingers, read now the promised extended statement by by Oscar Martin (NHT):
So far, coming to a close, where Eagles fly Cloudy Skies:
It feels weird to write this, considering that I was the last to join Autumnal back in 2014. It feels difficult as well to express this on behalf of the band, which already was 16 years old when we teamed up. However, taking care of a kind of abandoned ship somehow makes me her Master and Commander… or at least the violinist still playing while the vessel is sinking into the depths. Like a private getting a promotion just because there isn’t anyone left in the platoon.
Although I am not one of its original members, I know true facts, like, for instance, that My Dying Bride’s 1995 show in Madrid, supporting Iron Maiden, was a crucial spark for the existence of this project. I know as well how Glow and Autumnal coexisted and even shared members. Outside the band’s boundaries, I have worked with members and ex-members as well on different projects since the beginning of my career. I have great friends within the band who aren’t members technically, but their work has been so important that they turn out to be an essential part of its machinery. I proudly and solidly state how bands like Heavenshore influenced the way I compose nowadays. And finally, I came to know the most memorable anecdotes of the band, which I love listening to again and again. Knowing both these stories in detail, and their protagonists as well, makes me feel as if I had been part of them, like living through an anecdote about a close relative you haven’t gotten to know.
When I joined the band, fatal wounds had been inflicted and the hemorrhage was slowly leading the project to death, due to circumstances that aren’t relevant now. If it stayed afloat more time while reaching a higher level was undoubtedly due to Julio‘s leadership and work, but since he was like some kind of heart slowly dying -don’t get this wrong, please-, and he finally threw in the towel as expected, with good reason. After his decision, we started moving like headless chickens for more time. Like a dimming soul whose time has come, it made no sense to keep it alive no wondering about costs when it actually didn’t have any possible cure. The time to accept it came, and we ended up leaving dreams in this regard in that pile of ‘sorted, abandoned stuff’.
Last summer, I was impacted when I was told that a close friend, in a private context, had felt thrilled and almost cried while listening to a demo of a song that we had never released before but had just shared for the sake of it. Having joined after the release of The End of the Third Day, I conceived this person’s reaction as a good reason to roll our last dice through this song.
Out of sheer stubbornness, and to leave my imprint in the band’s DNA, here we are, at the end of our path, with ‘Where Eagles fly Cloudy Skies’. Completing it has taken more than two years. However, eventually all members have ended up contributing to make this possible, which has been awesome. This fact was important to give this song a proper vibe while working together since nobody is actually dispensable in this sense.
I must proudly state that my 8-year-old daughter Sofía -who already is some kind of wild card I have counted on from time to time in different projects- has played its cello parts. I explained to her how important this last song was for me and her effort turned out to be considerable and excellent in order to achieve the final result. The level of Alberto Roman’s arrangements in the last album was really high.
Its lyrics define my feelings very well, in regards to my time spent in Autumnal. I was able to reach the highest point in my career so far, and I treasure the lessons learned from my bandmates, despite what happened, since I managed to ignite an inner spark that made me heal the wounds that my passion for what I like to do the most suffered in that moment.
This posthumous song that we have managed to release is for you and thanks to you, people. For all of you who have been tirelessly supporting us through all these years and for those of you who have let us known what our music means in you lives. We the members have Autumnal’s imprint so ingrained within us that its essence will always be part of all the music we keep on composing. We’ll see you around in Saturnus, As Light Dies, Deemtee, Garth Arum, Aegrisomnia, Asciimov and come whatever may.
Take care. Enjoy each day as if it was the last one, and enjoy this anthem as much as possible.
Javier de Pablo: vocals.
Ricardo de Pablo: drums.
Miguel A. Guitiérrez: bass.
Julio Fernandez: solo guitar.
Sofía Martín: cello.
Oscar Martín (NHT): guitars, vocals, violin & synths.
Mixed in Kadath Sound, 2022.