1976 – 2016
Aleah Stanbridge, vocalist for Trees of Eternity, and guest vocalist for bands like Swallow The Sun and Amorphis, passed away on April 18th from cancer. Though she was not a full-time member of Swallow The Sun, Aleah’s presence was certainly felt in a lot of their work. She provided vocals on three of their albums and appeared in their video for Cathedral Walls as well as providing the photography for their album Songs From The North.
The news was initially reported on Draconian‘s Facebook page, and a few small metal websites reprinted the post. It was my hope that maybe something was lost in translation or it was some sort of inside joke. To my knowledge, Aleah has never sang for Draconian. The lack of further news gave me a slight sense of hope that the post was a misunderstanding. A silly joke that I didn’t get or a mistaken identity. I had not heard that she was even sick.
Unfortunately, my hopes were dashed when Juha Raivio, Swallow The Sun/Trees Of Eternity guitarist, and Aleah’s partner posted this on the Trees of Eternity Facebook page:
To echo Juha’s heartfelt post, my heart is broken as well. I discovered Trees Of Eternity about a year ago via recommended videos in Youtube. I can’t remember what I was listening to around the time, but the recommendation kept appearing in the sidebar. The thumbnail photo of Juha and Aleah stared at me from my computer screen, as if they were eagerly waiting for my response, waiting for me to join their world.
When I finally decided to give Trees Of Eternity a listen, I was transported to a sea of emotions. The music of their 2013 Black Ocean demo was an accurate representation of tumultuous feelings. Aleah’s voice enveloped both my mind and my heart like a gentle embrace. It simultaneously fills my heart with both joy and sorrow. Her soft words make me want to burst into uncontrollable tears while smiling for getting to experience something so real and true. Even her solo material was deep and meaningful.
Sadly, it is now too late for me to express my feelings directly to Aleah. The Trees Of Eternity page did not have a lot of activity over the past months nor did her personal or photography page. I probably could have tried to look harder or just sent a message in hopes of response, but it is a moot point now. I deeply regret not letting her know just how much her words, her voice, and her music has meant to me. Someone’s art moved me in a way that very little else has done in a long time. I frequently envy many of you who can listen to so many bands and derive large amounts of pleasure on a seemingly daily basis. Trees Of Eternity is one of the few bands to break through to me, putting thoughts and emotions into a beautiful form of art. Now, I can never let Aleah know and that makes her death sting even more.
I never quite understood how people became so emotional when a celebrity died. The deluge of tributes and praise for mega stars who passed always felt slightly hollow, partially due to the nature of social media and the 24-hour news cycle. Now, I have a better grasp of how those people feel. Though I never met Aleah Stanbridge, I genuinely grieve for her death and for Juha’s loss. As someone who lost a very close loved one to cancer at a young age, this news has hit me harder than I expected.
The news that the Trees Of Eternity album is being released is very positive. Though it is on Youtube in its entirety, along with a promotional music video, their demo was never officially released. The album will serve as a testament to Aleah’s life and will hopefully reach others the way it has reached me.
As I sit here in a darkened room with tears welling in my eyes and a tightness in my chest, I am so very grateful to have discovered Aleah Stanbridge’s music. Her soft voice serves as a loving embrace, protecting us from the crushing weight of the surrounding world. The coldness of life dissolves with her tender words like a sweet Spring breeze. Though I cannot hold her hand and personally thank her, I hope my words reach both Juha and her fans, letting them know that there are others that have been profoundly affected by her. She will always bring a unique happiness to my heart and soul, and for that, I am thankful that Aleah Stanbridge came into my life.