Faal
The Clouds are Burning

While seemingly everyone has been gushing over the new Evoken album this year, another comparable death/doom masterpiece floated by with nary a mention. It’s amazing what a difference the support of Profound Lore and Decibel can make. It’s not that Evoken isn’t more than deserving of all the praise they’re receiving, but what Faal has created is equally powerful and moving, if not more so in some respects.

Faal (Dutch for “fail”) hail from one-time death/doom hotbed, the Netherlands, and include a member from that scene’s heyday in its ranks (William Nijhof of Spina Bifida handles vocals). Their debut, Abhorrence-Salvation, was released back in ‘08, but sold out so quickly, I was never able to get my hands on a copy. So, I can’t make any comparisons to their past material. But, considering how great this is, I think it’s safe to say that they haven’t succumbed to the infamous sophomore slump. Their style is rooted in the oppressive and atmospheric variety of death/doom spearheaded by bands like Esoteric, Disembowelment, and Dusk (US), but with a slight blackgaze influence in the form of some lighter, shimmery tremolo guitar work and blackened vocals. I’ve seen the now-popular “funeral” tag being thrown their way, but anyone who thinks this fits that description should give Thergothon another listen.

The opening track, “My Body Glows Red,” begins with distant, mysterious ambience and clean guitar picking that evokes the feeling of floating out in deep space until you’re abruptly brought back down to earth by a sudden explosion of crushing doom. The intensity soon escalates with the addition of rapid double-bass drums and tremolo guitars. The bottom drops out halfway through and the spacey ambience and clean guitar returns for a moment before the band explodes again with even more intensity and a heart-rending melody that’s amplified by the chaos beneath it. It’s a strong opening and a good representation of what’s to come. This interplay of anger and melancholy, harsh and soft, flows throughout the entire album, but it’s ever-changing. At times, the two are separate; at others, they merge into powerful crescendos. This is most evident in “The Insistence’s Wish,” which starts off slow and deliberate, but eventually erupts into a grinding segment followed by emotional synths and fragile guttural vocals (if that makes sense) until everything explodes into the most dramatic and emotional climax of the year with wailing guitars, crashing drums, deep growls, and ghostly, chant-like vocals. The third track, “Tempest,” immediately erupts into a heavy gallop akin to My Dying Bride’s “Under Your Wings and into Your Arms,” but soon slows to hateful plodding reminiscent of Esoteric’s best moments. The title track closes the album with a somber intro that leads to more pissed heaviness until it’s all overwhelmed at the very end by harsh noise that sounds like you’re being flushed down the cosmic drainpipe.

No one approach is repeated or overstays its welcome, which makes the 45-minute playing time fly by. And, therein lies the album’s most notable flaw: it feel’s slightly short, especially since it’s comprised of only four tracks. This is the first time I’ve ever felt like an album could actually use some filler. One or two brief instrumentals between the main tracks could’ve made the album feel more complete. Another minor issue is the production. It could afford to sound a little more full and clear, but I’m really digging for criticisms at this point.

It’s great to see this style finally gaining some ground this year thanks to the lauded works of Evoken, Inverloch, and Indesinence. I just hope that this unique and compelling take on it doesn’t fall through the cracks.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Adam Palm
December 19th, 2012

Comments

  1. Commented by: stiffy

    See now that’s a nice ass review. Way to go.


  2. Commented by: Jordan Itkowitz

    I am tickled by the thought that there are likely hundreds of Dutch memes on the internet that read “FAAL”


  3. Commented by: Luke_22

    Nice review, definitely going to check this out.


  4. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I like this band a lot.


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