Scotland is not typically a place I look to in my search for metal. Further, I am certainly not in the frame of mind to think that the small, British sovereign state would produce a band that is capable of inspiring a sense of awe within me. I’m not sure why I held this opinion. I find nothing wrong with the Scottish. Hell, I’m actually of partial Scottish heritage; but I just can’t think of any bands I’ve ever listened to from this area. Well, now I have to change my mindset, as I recently took in the new release from FALLOCH. Their sophomore effort, This Island, Our Funeral, was released in September of 2014 throughout Europe, and, as of January 27, will finally reach our native shores, thanks to Candlelight Records.
After listening to the disc, I can’t say that I’m thrilled I had to wait over three months to get my hands on it, in comparison to our comrades across the pond; however, what awaited me was well worth the time. Offering a dark and brooding atmosphere, This Island, Our funeral, entrances the listener with cascading melodies and haunting vocals over a mystifying panoramic scenery. The content of the record is perplexing, yet plays out with a lush simplicity that I found to be profound. It stands without easy categorization, blending elements of post-rock, art-metal and folk music into a bewilderingly abstruse package. I would almost liken the sound to TOOL meets ISIS, yet I would still find myself standing leagues away from a fitting description.
This ambiguous description can be illustrated throughout, even from the opening track, “Tòrradh”; a song that opens with walls of droning guitars, the sound of Scottish flutes and an intrepidly soaring vocal melody. However, the song erupts to a dramatic, churning whirlwind of climactic sound. “For Life” continues the esoteric ebb and flow, matching pounding double bass rhythms with passages of seductive guitar work. This is followed by the spacey lure of “For Dir”, an ominous and airy track that is as clouded as it is suggestive. The heaviest or at least the more impending number can be found in “Brahan”. This is also the only spot where you will find harsh vocals, presented in unintelligible yelling during the intro. The ethereal aura continues through to the close of the record, with the ambient epics of “I Shall Build Mountains” and “Sanctuary”. Both songs capture the definition of melancholy, while dousing the listener in emotive, yet tranquil waters.
While trying to bring things to a close, I find that I have spent all but maybe a few of the adjectives I know that are fitting of this disc. That said, I offer the metaphoric by way of the cover art for This Island, Our Funeral. Whether uncanny, or precisely planned, the vision of a storm-surged shoreline, drenched in fog, eluding the mountains in the distance brings a cold eeriness to the mind. It is the picturesque interpretation of the isolated, and yet it also holds an enchanting beauty that resonates a lingering sense of optimism. Simply stated, FALLOCH have created a chilling and moving piece of work that will capture more than just your attention. If you’re looking for a record to lose yourself to during these colder months, this is the one.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM
– FRENCH CHEESE