Where Distant Spirits Remain

Written by: DR on 12/10/2011 21:40:01

Falloch aim for the big. Formed in 2010 in Glasgow, Scotland, Falloch, consisting of just two members - Andy Marshall and Scott McLean, recently released their debut album, "Where Distant Spirits Remain". It reads, or plays, like a love-letter to the glorious highlands of Scotland. It feels like it's trying to emulate the sheer epic-ness of those lands, so yeah, Falloch aim for the big.

To try and achieve this, they're certainly not afraid to draw from the depths of their musical influences. What should fundamentally sound like a straight-forward post-rock release suddenly becomes very difficult to pigeon-hole the more you listen, as influences from metal, post-metal, black metal and folk to the minimalistic, classical sounds of Yann Tiersen reveal themselves. In doing so, one can't help but admire the ambition to bring far, even opposing, corners of the musical spectrum together. The result, however, is patchy, at best.

This isn't entirely down to the amalgamation of styles, though. Opener "We Are Gathering Dust" is a very decent track that carefully treads the line between metal and alternative without sure-footedly stepping into either territory. The vocals permeate with passion, offsetting the ostensibly deep lyrics and the fact the vocals are actually pretty poor, adding to the bleak -scape that is being created and as a result drawing the listener in. They even manage to include some of those aforementioned folk influences without hindering the overall momentum of the song. However, I'm struggling to come up with moments thereafter that are worth writing home about. Not that the ideas or execution of them is especially bad, but they're not especially good - at least not enough to justify songs that last up to ten minutes long. The main problem is, despite the impressive instrumentation, it's hard to suffer through a "Beyond Embers And The Earth" when the vocals croon a lyric as awful "Your soul is as deep as the sea", striving for some kind of awe-inspiring introspection, when all it actually is horribly artificial.

Drawing even more from the folk of their homeland, "Horizons" is a spacious effort that attempts to recreate the swirling of wind around the highlands, and although it could be argued that it's so serene it interrupts the flow, it is surprisingly beautiful - so much so that it's almost hypnotic. Any interest perked by post-rock/metal inhale/exhale nature of the musicianship on "Where We Believe" is cancelled out by the vocals, which, aside from the first song, are unlistenable throughout. He's desperate to achieve some sort of other-worldly hold on the listener, not just through his voice but through his lyrics, yet he lacks the vocal capacity and the lyric-writing talent to achieve this. As a result, the atmospheric singing, which wants to be so soaring and epic, crashes back down to earth. Hard.

Ultimately, "Where Distant Spirits Remain" presents a difficult challenge to this reviewer. But that's exactly what this album is: a challenge (and that's not a word I use lightly). Instrumentally, this album is impressive. Unfortunately, any desire the listener has to access this aspect of the band, more often than not, ends up blocked by the vocals - and the lyrics. It's not that I don't 'get' what's trying to be said, it's that nothing is actually being said. (over) Reliance on imagery from nature and trying to pass yourself off as brooding, dark or deep by using words like "spirit" and "dying" might sound okay, but does it actually mean anything? If that doesn't bother you, you're willing to endure through it, or you actually buy into it, "Where Distant Spirits Remain" might be for you. As for everyone else, for those who want music with sincere feeling, it's probably best to keep looking.


Download: We Are Gathering Dust, Horizons
For The Fans of: Post-rock/metal that was written and performed in Middle Earth?
Listen: Bandcamp

Release Date 26.09.2011
Candlelight Records

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