Aleah Liane Stanbridge (July 1, 1976 – April 18, 2016), was the singer of the Finnish band Trees of Eternity.
Aleah was born in Cape Town, South Africa but relocated to Sweden. She collaborated with Andy Cousin (former bassist of The Mission and All About Eve) in a project called That Which Remains in early 2008. They met on Myspace through a mutual acquaintance Mark G Thwaite of the Mission, and were making music together through the Internet with Andy working from his studio in the UK and Aleah from hers, deep in the forests of Sweden. Aleah’s first demo-songs featured on Myspace were written by her and then interpreted instrumentally by Andy – playing and writing both guitar and bass-lines as well as programming drums and keyboards. The plan was to use a live drummer for the recording of an album but eventually the project was abandoned.
Aleah later appeared as a guest singer on the albums of Swallow the Sun (New Moon 2009, Emerald Forest and the Blackbird 2012, Songs from the North I, II & III 2015, she has also contributed with photography and cover art to the latter) and Amorphis (single Sacrifice and album Under the Red Cloud 2015). Her other guest appearances are ‘Songs from the Silent Years’ album (Krister Linder, 2006), ‘Being’, ‘Elves of Athoria’ & ‘Days of Silence’ (Omnimotion, ‘Dream Wide Awake’, 2006) and ‘Lashtal Lace’ (Coph Nia, ‘Lashtal Lace’, 2015).
During the studio work for Swallow the Sun’s song ‘Lights on the Lake’ for the album New Moon, the idea of Trees of Eternity emerged as the project of Aleah and the guitarist Juha Raivio. The initial plan was to feature Aleah’s vocals on part of the song which has already been prepared by Juha, however they started to experiment with a vocal line which Aleah had written for the occasion and that gave them an idea to head off in a new direction so eventually the project took on a life of its own.
The pair have released a four song demo Black Ocean in 2013, and managed to complete and record the songs for their debut album, they also also signed a deal with UK-based AMF Publishing. To complete the Trees of Eternity line-up, Juha and Aleah have invited Fredrik Norrman (October Tide, ex-Katatonia), Mattias Norrman (October Tide, ex-Katatonia) and Kai Hahto (Wintersun, Swallow the Sun), as well as some acclaimed guest musicians.
On April 18, 2016, Aleah died from cancer at age 39. Two days later, Juha wrote on Facebook that the album has been ready to be released for a while and that the plans are still in motion. On November 11th, 2016, the band’s debut album, Hour of the Nightingale, has been released via Svart Records. A lyrics video for the song Broken Glass was released with the following note from the band
“Dear friends, today is the day we can start to celebrate the music, lyrics, and life of our beautiful Queen who so tragically and suddenly crossed the bridge of stars and left this world so young and so soon… So with tears in my eyes but my heart pounding with a proud, victorious beat, I can finally tell you that our long-awaited album, Hour of the Nightingale, will be released worldwide on November 11th through Svart Records and preorders start August 29th.
“Here is the first single from the album, ‘Broken Mirror,’ with a beautiful and very touching lyric video Vesa Ranta made for the song.
“There really are no words to describe the ultimate weight of the darkness, or the rays of the brightest of light that this album holds within its songs and lyrics. In so many ways, this album turned out to be the most important album I’ve done in my life, and we both loved it from the first note to the last as we wrote it.
“About Aleah… I have never met a person and a musician more connected to the very core of the absolute emotion and the soul of each note and every word she wrote or sang. She wanted her music and lyrics to be 110% honest and truthful; absolutely nothing less would do. Music was her religion and passion, a gateway to her soul and beyond. There will never be another songwriter or voice like hers that can turn the day into the darkest of night, or turn the darkness into blinding light with just one word or a whisper.
“We were very proud to record Hour of the Nightingale together with our friends, bandmates, and amazing musicians – Kai Hahto, Mattias, and Fredrik Norrman – who all played their hearts out on this album. And working with another good friend Jens Bogren producing, recording, mixing, and mastering the album, we’re ready to take this music to the world and play it to you all. Sadly, that never happened… But this is the point where we can finally start this long journey and celebrate our Queen and singer Aleah Stanbridge, whose words and music will live forever on.
“My heart is truly black and broken after the tragic loss of Aleah, but every time hearing her voice in these songs, something pierces through the darkness like a flaming arrow. I hope this album will do the same to you no matter what might be shadowing your own path and bring you some solace and peace.
“I want to thank you all for showing so much love towards Aleah after her sudden passing. My friends, this is where her legacy starts, through the voice of an angel at this hour of the nightingale. Bless you all.”
Juha Raivio is also planning to release Aleah’s solo songs in the future.