Change is inevitable. Early, late, somewhere in between. In the life span of your favorite bands, there is likely to be turmoil, turnover, and even an end to it all. When Falloch exploded onto the front pages of metal blogs and magazines in 2011, the name represented a two man project, founded by Andy Marshall and Scott McLean. Now, some three years later, the Falloch that has a new album on the way is the same, only different. With Marshall departing in July of 2012, it left McLean with holes to fill, and decisions to make. Now a full time four piece, the band has the full spectrum of opportunities, from touring to album work. And the latter didn't take nearly as long as one might have expected. Joined by three new members, including a full time vocalist to replace Marshall's microphone presence, the pride of Scotland's metal scene have a new full length that has as much to prove as ever. And This Island, Our Funeral may prove to be more successful than its predecessor.
For those who spun the previous album with any frequency, there is a noticeable and appreciated refinement to the production work this time around something that can be enjoyed in full on Tòrradh. It has it's raw moments, though, as the bass lines have just the right amount of rattle to them. But you'll find a crispness to the melodies, be it acoustic or distorted, that adds to the depth early. McLean has honed his songwriting ability, and his leads show great growth and progression. One of the wild cards to the release, the addition of Tony Dunn on vocals, pays dividends as well, his accented wail meshing well with the instrumental below. His handling of the storm that is For Life solidifies his strengths, holding his tone beside a rhythm section that could be cause for seismic false alarms. This marriage of opposites isn't a revelation, but it keeps the track grounded and accessible. The formula hasn't strayed much for the debut album, and For Ùir might be the track that best exemplifies the consistency. Swaying melodies coexist with distorted chords, each strum of the guitar punctuated with the loud snap of a snare hit. It brings to life the misty shores of the albums cover.
For the first time, there is a show of vocal aggression on Brahan, a few select grunts breaking from the harmonies that have carried the album thus far. The full arsenal is on display on this nine minute piece, a crash course in all things Falloch. Newly added rhythm section Steve Scott and Ben Brown provide the low end with a strength unlike anything the band has seen before. It helps to highlight Dunn's vocal range, when he pushes his voice to the upper limits. The interlude track is a mysterious one, consisting of little more than a low rumbling wavelength and light synthesizers. It does little for the arc of the album but reset the scene for I Shall Build Mountains. In an odd twist, the levels of distortion build up here, while the focus on vocal melody rise at an equal rate. The contrast is well conceived, if not a little more to the radio rock side than you may be ready for. But beyond those observations, you'll find a great deal of post black influence here, with some passages mirroring the shoegaze movement of the last few years. Sliding acoustic interludes give way to grungy riffs to bring it full circle. While Sanctuary follows a similar pattern, the ability of the latter to get your foot stomping or your head moving is undeniable. McLean's lead here is simplistic, but full, which may describe the album on the whole.
Having followed the series of changes between Where Distant Spirits Remain and This Island, Our Funeral, there were a lot of intriguing questions and concerns that would be answered within the first listen of the new material. And the best summary seems to be that Falloch, and specifically Scott McLean, has aged by three years, and narrowed its vision down to a more precise art. This isn't a complete departure from the debut album, but it is a band, quite literally, unlike before. The additions of Dunn, Brown, and Scott, along with the departure of Marshall, have changed the shape of the band, without changing the thematic element the name represents. You'll still find all of the things that made the rise of Falloch in 2011 so meteoric, but packaged in a slightly more accessible, less independent sort of way. The black metal influences have faded, and in their place are more post rock forays. Thankfully, the focus on contrast came along for the ride.
Official Site - http://www.falloch.com/
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