Falloch - This Island, Our Funeral - (8/10)
Published on October 22, 2014
The reception of Scottish Falloch’s debut Where Distant Spirits Remain was split, to say the least; together with the riffs and vocals not being strong or expressive enough, many a critic wailed away over the all too apparent influences of Agalloch and Alcest. Now the Glaswegians are back with This Island, Our Funeral, a new bassist, a new drummer, and a new vocalist/guitarist to face the critics once again, and while they’re not reinventing their wheel, they seem to have taken at least some of the criticism to heart.
Firmly planted in the post-metal genre, the quartet incorporates light folk elements into their sound, with strong, clear vocals and an equally strong emphasis on atmosphere, at times transporting the listener into the foggy highlands of their country. The folk elements come in the form of a flute that is sparingly used, but it gives some nice accents without ever becoming overbearing. To sum up Falloch anno 2014, opener “Tòrradh” is a nay-perfect example, with a dense atmosphere (which ranges from frail to intense), clear vocals, and at times nicely heavy guitars. Post-metal’s knack for repetition underlines the atmosphere, while there is just enough rhythmic variation to avoid the song becoming too one-dimensional.
Two of the main gripes that many people had with the debut were the lack of genuine heaviness and the weak vocals. While many tracks still put atmosphere over heaviness, “For Life,” for example, has a brilliant alternation between heavy guitars and pounding drums on the one side, and, on the other, a calm yet dense atmosphere. As for the vocals, new recruit Tony Dunn has a strong, clear voice that complements both heavy and atmospheric passages excellently; the vocals can definitely be considered an asset to Falloch now, as further proven by “For Ùir.” The rest of the album can’t fully keep up with these three tracks, unfortunately, even though the chorus of “Brahan” or the emotiveness of “I Shall Build Mountains” prove how much this band has grown throughout the years.
Granted, Falloch still have not exactly been spoon-fed with originality, but This Island, Our Funeral has turned out to be a beautiful piece of folk-influenced post-metal with strong atmospherics and vocals that evokes the aforementioned images of the Scottish highlands, fog and mist included.