Falloch – Where Distant Spirits Remain
Living on a Scottish island, the statement “it’s July” really means very little. Tell me it’s October, March, or that the Earth has floated out of the Sun’s orbit and it’s unlikely I’d question it. The claustrophobic perma-mist that’s characterising this northern summer inexorably rolls off the sea as a dense wall straight out of John Carpenter’s “The Fog,” able to depress even the most enthusiastic “discovering my heritage” tourists…
But if there’s one thing this sorry climate is good for it’s providing the back drop to some pensive, window-gazing post-metal.
Though having come across Falloch’s 2011 debut Where Distant Spirits Remain, I think I’d rather take my chances in The Fog than ever have to listen to this again.
Describing the album as post-metal may even be pushing it slightly, the brief passages of anything close to black metal guitar parts are about as few and far between as the moments of non-standardised, Alcest-derived acoustic interludes. There are fleeting instances of atmosphere and epicness, such as near the end of opener We Are Gathering Dust and on the short-lived instrumental Horizons. But the majority of the record is so flaccid, any suggestion of menace, integral to a record’s ‘metal’ quality, is quickly bypassed. Really any sense of foreboding is an unintentional creation of the wait for the vocals to return – their unnerving quality being the ability to accurately evoke some of emo’s worst whining. Juvenile in content and delivery at best, barely in tune (Beyond Embers and The Earth) and flat (The Carrying Light) at worst.
There are passable moments on Where Distant Spirits Remain, but these are confined to the seconds given to the ‘atmospheric metal’ aspects rather than the appearances of keys, flutes and try-hard folk inflections. Perhaps if Falloch stripped their sound back, listened to some Altar of Plagues and lost the vocals there might be something here.
Where Distant Spirits Remain was an album that came quickly from a young band, influenced by an expectant and notable label; but when Alcest and Agalloch have already got it covered, whether they’ve developed their sound since this debut, or on second full-length This Island, Our Funeral (2014) is not something I’m arsed to find out (4/10).