Falloch - Where Distant Spirits Remain - 3/5
I have always steadily maintained that Agalloch are the present day Beatles, never mind the qualitative breadth between the two bands though, I'm talking about inspiring a whole new set of ideals in music which before them were certainly seldom attempted. If so far my words have been Greek to you so far then I suggest you go ahead and take a look at how many bands have jumped into the whole naturalist-esque post rock/metal bandwagon. Now of course taking influence from an artist is nothing to be critical about, Moonsorrow wear theirs proudly on their sleeves. But where Moonsorrow take influence from Bathory they remember to add their own touch on 90% of the things. Sadly that is not the case here.
And yet the score could have been higher, had originality been the only issue here. Hailing from Scotland these Brits play a kind of music that is at times indisputably beautiful and at others just plain awkward. Mixing post rock with Doom is fine and usually can produce wonderful results, but when you lump the two together without any sort of coherence, you produce a piece symbolical to a piece of clay unskillfully molded. It will have some delightful edges and shapes around it, but overall it just puzzles you to no ends.
Song-writing is the major flaw on display here, sometimes the instruments going full throttle for intense playing and then completely dropping everything to an almost minimalist acoustic tone to display folklore elements. Had there been some coherence between the two phases, this record might just have elevated itself to brilliance the band’s potential displays. So the listener, in turn, is just lost at times in terms of where the track is going and this makes the majority of the album quite forgettable despite its appeasing moments.
Thankfully the instrumental melodies prove to be the saving grace of this album. Where the instruments lack in coherence, they make up in skill. Now that doesn’t imply technical ability or fast solos but some very beautiful moments created in from of some magical riffs and mesmerizing acoustic interludes. Drums are at times barely noticeable but when the tracks kick into the more intense phases, they merge well with the rest of the band.
And yes I'm not forgetting the vocals which are really the most interesting aspect on show really. Now on one hand, the vocalist has a good voice, no arguing on that, but I sincerely question their vocalist choice for the kind of genre they are attempting. This is critical because the band often compromise on the instrumental flow just to highlight his soft vocals. Perhaps that would explain for the extreme switching between the intensity levels of the music, but even then it’s not an apt excuse for the song-writing. It just shows how forced most of the substance is. I will say this for the Scots though, they have the talent and the potential on their side but this is a harsh lesson for anyone in music. Potential and talent is not enough to cut it. An average effort with some occasional shine but mostly it just leaves you bewildered.
Over the years this has grown into my own personal project, reviewing the artists that I discover and interest me. If you wish to see more of my work, particularly my more metal-orientated material, you can find me as a regular contributor for the online magazine
Posted by T. Bawden Thursday, 27 October 2011