Scottish duo deliver a melancholic metal masterpiece
I remember, and I know I’m showing my age here, when metal was just loud and obnoxious. But over the years, I’ve seen many different genres spawn and evolve, just as I’ve seen some die off and others reinvent themselves or go through a renaissance of sorts. Whilst there are some styles that I love and a truckload more I cannot get into, there are some that I’m indifferent to. Indifferent, to the point of not being overly familiar with but sometimes you stumble across acts that grab your attention for any number of reasons.
Scotland post-rock, atmospheric-cum-folk duo Falloch – who take their name from the Falls of Falloch waterfall in Crianlarich, Scotland – are one of those enigmas. The duo, who are Andy Marshall and Scott McLean, can only be compared to the likes of Agalloch, Alcest and Primordial, have delivered an interesting and engrossing debut in the form of Where Distant Spirits Remain with of seven songs totalling just over 53 minutes.
The key thing that Falloch do bloody well here is atmosphere. They deliver it in spades. Sure, there are sparse bursts of metal fury but for the most part, Where Distant Spirits Remain, is all about atmosphere and that is its strength. Gentle, acoustic guitars, hauntingly clean vocals and truly beautiful instrumental passages (such as the four minute breather Horizons) are just awe inspiring.
The clean vocals have an Anathema like feel to them as they drip with innocence. But they are but a mere single piece of this complex puzzle. The gentle acoustic guitars butt up against heavier, distorted phrasing combined with melancholy guitar melodies and keyboard passages all make for some truly stunning arrangements that are most pleasing to the ear.
Where Distant Spirits Remain isn’t an album that can be judged on a single track. The whole is truly greater than the sum of the parts here. The Celtic overtones are present but not to a point that they dominate proceedings. If anything, the balance between metal and folk is just about spot on – and that is not something I can say about too many other acts of this ilk around these days.
It might not be the most original approach to this style of metal but Falloch are certainly a band with all their ducks lined up. With their debut effort, Where Distant Spirits Remain, they have delivering a solid and engrossing release from start to end. Of course time will always tell if a band is truly on their game and onto something special, but from all initial indications present here, Falloch are definitely heading in the right direction out of the gates. Where Distant Spirits Remain is definitely one of the more left of centre yet interesting releases for 2011. Further to that, it could also quite possibly be a dark horse when it comes to the Top 10 releases of the year for some.