ALBUM REVIEW: Falloch

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FALLOCH
‘This Island, Our Funeral’
Candlelight Records (September 2014)
8/10

A beautiful dream. Dissonant, tangential guitars echo across open hillsides, bass beats red and meaty like a human heart, subtly evocative keyboards move gently on the breeze, the drums come and go as the rising and the setting of the sun…  days pass by, and only the music speaks.

For Scotland’s Falloch, life is not black and white but shades of grey – and ‘This Island, Our Funeral’ is a lot sexier than that terrible book which got a few million housewives steamy a while back. From its pale landscape of placid lakes and broad, cold valleys, glimmers of colour appear from the mist; a blissful chorus here, a heart-breaking melody there.

The band’s new album is gloomier than their debut ‘Where Distant Spirits Remain’, but also grand is its scope and bold in its vision. Do Falloch play ‘doom metal’ as such? Who cares – they’re slow, atmospheric and seriously impressive, so are more than welcome on this website. At DoomMetalHeaven we’re looking for quality music not genre arguments, and Falloch are class.

The songs seem simple at first, but there is a lot going on to make them appear so. Having undergone some serious personnel changes since recording their debut – bringing in Tony Dunn on vocals/guitar, Ben Brown on bass and drummer Steve Scott to replace Andy Marshall – Falloch’s sound is more textured and intriguing than ever.

At times Dunn resembles Quorthon on auto-tune, and this album could be said to be something of a ‘Hammerheart’ for the Scottish Highlands (or Glasgow, at least). Such is its energy and flow, and its ability to evoke in the mind’s eye a time and world long since disappeared. Dunn’s vocals are a perfectly judged balance of soaring and thoughtful and they help to create the album’s dream-like quality, even when the guitars veer towards something darker – if not exactly blackened, then perhaps charcoal grey. More often, the guitars have a smoother approach, the strings caressed, melodies coaxed.

Musically there is a flavour of Alcest, while Falloch also concoct a number of epic sections that would make While Heaven Wept or Atlantean Kodex green with envy. Rarely does the listener’s attention wander – perhaps briefly during the jangling tour de force ‘I Shall Build Mountains’ – but generally the calm and patient compositions on ‘This Island, Our Funeral’ keep you in a state of breathless anticipation.

Occasionally, tracks interrupt themselves when they risk getting carried away, returning to factory settings in order to build to another dramatic crescendo, so those hoping for immediate gratification may be frustrated. ‘I Shall Build Mountains’, for example, might be even more powerful if Falloch threw caution to the wind, while the 12-minute ‘Sanctuary’ leans on piano work from the Asia school of soft rock.

Amazing to think that this record was created thanks to funding from Creative Scotland, a national organisation that supports the arts and which deserves great credit for recognising Falloch’s huge potential. Falloch have been able to create a beautiful work of doomed art that lingers in the air, whispering to you, and calling you out to the wild.

https://www.facebook.com/falloch

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