Falloch – Where Distant Spirits Remain

Falloch

Where Distant Spirits Remain

01. We Are Gathering Dust
02. Beyond Embers And The Earth
03. Horizons
04. Where We Believe
05. The Carrying Light
06. To Walk Amongst The Dead
07. Solace

[09/27/11]
[Candlelight Records]

In the realm of post-black metal, Falloch stand a bit on the outskirts with their foot just barely in the door. The Scottish duo feels a lot more like a more subdued Agalloch with clean singing than anything considered black metal most of the time. Sure, there’s swathes of snowy tremolo picking and blasts and the rare throaty screams that harken back to any traditional black metal sound, but Falloch are an almost progressive blend of post-rock and melancholic modern metal with shades of Celtic folk. Their debut album Where Distant Spirits Remain serves as an introduction to their atmospheric and vast thought-provoking sound.

Like most bands in the genre, Falloch’s sound is mostly based on trade-offs between hard riffing and deep introspective soundscapes. Falloch aren’t necessarily doing anything that hasn’t been done before, but they do utilize the multifaceted sound in a way that doesn’t sound like a complete re-tread of anyone else’s material. There’s shades of the highly influential Alcest and the aforementioned Agalloch, but there’s more emphasis placed on vocal melody. The melancholic nature of the melodies and lyrical matter are quite reminiscent of Katatonia‘s later material, which is an excellent break from the distant and barely discernible cavernous shrieking that the genre tends to fall back on. They really are a nice touch, and suitable for the emotion that they’re going for. Harmonies that really hit home are few and far between, though.

While guitar and drums do exactly how one would expect a record of this type to go, the bass is actually audible most of the time with a tone that cuts through the mix. Far too often, a generic tone is used that leaves the bass falling flat an largely indiscernible from the mass of instruments, but you can pick out the bass at almost every turn, which is an excellent touch. The drums, again, perform as expected, but they do little to make themselves noticeable as more than a glorified click-track.

Naturally, there’s plenty of downtime between stretches of metallic riffing. The folk influence shines through layers of ambiance with acoustic guitars and wind instruments, giving the whole record a somewhat Celtic feel. The relatively short instrumental “Horizons” and its followup “Where We Believe” displays beautifully their brand of soundscaping and use of folky musical ideas. There are several moments on Where Distant Spirits Remain where the music is quite moving, especially the atmospheric instrumental sections, namely the piano-driven outro “Solace.

Where Distant Spirits Remain suffers from Seasonal Affective Disorder, which isn’t all that bad of an aspect for a record like this to have. The whole thing is a wintery melancholic journey that, while sometimes getting uplifting with optimism, tends to sound quite samey. On the initial listens (which most likely won’t hook the listener overall), the album feels like a blur of sad. The differentiation gets easier if you stick to your guns, as is usually the case with albums that feature many songs that reach 10 minutes in length.

The biggest flaw in Falloch’s debut record is its hesitance to embed itself into the mind of the listener past its runtime. Sure, everything sounds great while listening, but after its playthrough, not much sticks. There are melodies everywhere, but there are very few actual hooks, and when sporting a mostly clean vocal style, they’re an important tool to utilize. The potential for greatness is certainly shown on Where Distant Spirits Remain, and I’m quite interested to see what they can do if they break away from their mold.

Falloch – Where Distant Spirits Remain gets…

3/5

– JR

 

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