It’s not hard to see why this pair of Scots were so quickly snapped up by Candlelight. A native band who perform the same organic and grainy style of Metal AGALLOCH, ALCEST and the ilk are renowned for? With its recent boom in popularity, people are going to lap this up, and quite rightly so with such quality music as is on show here.
Ever since news of this project broke, I was cautiously anticipating this release, for the project is named after the Falls of Falloch in Scotland, a beauty spot in the heart of the Trossachs which I have visited myself a few times; a very fitting foundation for the album if you ask me.
Andy Marshall, backbone of the band also happens to be the same guy who was responsible for arguably the best Scottish Black Metal album ever, ASKIVAL’s Eternity. This came as a huge surprise as it isn’t exactly the first direction you’d expect an artist with whom the NSBM tag has been bandied about to take. It’s in a completely different boat altogether, and that’s none more obvious in the startling new direction Andy’s vocals have taken.
I’ll not lie, as soon as I heard the vocals initially my first thoughts were “Fuck, since when did 30 Seconds to Mars get heavy?” I despised them, though as time has passed I’ve grown accustomed to them. Hell I might even be starting to like, nay, maybe even love them. They will be like marmite to most though; a heavy immature slant to them, they are reminiscent to something from Kerrang’s filthy vaults. Then again, so would Neige if he sang in English, there’s not a big amount of difference between the two and it’s no surprise ALCEST are a huge influence on “Where Distant Spirits Remain”.
It’s fairly hard to categorize “Where Distant Spirits Remain”. Loathe to use ‘Post-Black’, a tag which appears to get hurled around fervently and applied to anything which fails to fall within the traditional Black Metal template, it’s closer to the Folk Metal mould than anything else, Celtic in style with a fair amount of Post-Rock influence. I can even hear a slight hint of shoegaze from time to time. It’s not really black metal at all, borderline at times but nowhere near enough to be classed as such.
From “We Are Gathering Dust” with its echoes of PRIMORDIAL in the riffing to the punch and driving rhythm of “Beyond Embers And The Earth” meshed so elegantly with tin whistle and acoustics, it’s almost impossible to pick any faults whatsoever with the music. Harsh vocals only appear sporadically throughout the album, a shrill howl that is the only remaining link along with the Folky passages that remain on ASKIVAL. “Where We Believe” contains some of the best vocal lines of the album, dreamy yet flow perfectly around the acoustic guitar and ebbing riff work and blasting on the kit.
A special mention has to go out to the brief four minute instrumental “Horizons”. Bodhrán and flute are used together with such well constructed ease to create such an atmosphere that I can’t picture anything else other than myself sitting on the shores of Lomond as the sun creeps below the western mountains. Utterly inspiring stuff.
Fans of ALCEST, EMPYRIUM, AGALLOCH and all such bands similar could definitely do a lot worse than to check this out. Weathered, airy Post-Rock influenced Folk Metal which utilizes seamless transitions between the harsh distorted wash and the serene calm. The Folk passages are presented with tact and authenticity unlike so many of those plastic European ‘Folk’ Metal bands. Sit back and let “Where Distant Spirits Remain” seep through your veins. It may not be instant, but when it does finally settle, it’ll be worth it.
(Online February 11, 2012)