October Falls
The Womb of Primordial Nature

Fall is here for many of you (except those of us unlucky enough to live in the damn desert), which makes it a perfect time to throw on a pair of headphones and take a long, solitary walk in the woods. Those of you looking to recapture the dark pastoral glory of Bergtatt-era Ulver and Orchid-era Opeth would do well to add October Falls‘ superb new effort to your playlist.

This four-track, almost 40-minute journey combines the delicate, pensive acoustics from those albums with a brisker black metal attack to conjure an earthy, romantic atmosphere. On first listen, it reminded me of Agalloch or Drukdh‘s yearning tones, but then it seemed as if October Falls‘ sound lay further to the west, rooted in the mournful, soaring melodies of Finnish melodeath/doom metal. Funny that, ‘cause for some reason I had thought October Falls was an American artist, but it is in fact from Finland. What is it about Finnish melody that’s so distinct and memorable anyway?

Each long track is built around a central melody or refrain that gives way to more sweeping pieces at its interior. I challenge you to listen to the middle of “I” and not think of the gorgeous sigh of bands like Rapture or Slumber. Generally, you’d think that the most delicate pieces of each track – the acoustic sections – would also contain the most delicate melodies, but here, it’s these slower metallic sections that do most of the emotional heavy lifting. Overall, Womb‘s interplay between crisp riff-oriented sections and doomy, elegaic passages makes for a enveloping listen that’s more pleasant and easygoing than your usual black metal harshness.

Of course, I’m saying that as someone (who, like many of you), doesn’t necessarily equate black metal vocals with outright aggression. The vocals here are a solid rasp that occasionally climbs to a screech during faster sections, or drops to a more expressive croak during slower moments, such as the first half of “II”. It’s a rich, archetypal peformance that does a fine job without distracting from the mood at hand. The album also enjoys a very well-balanced, clean production, with none of the attempts at hissy muddiness that sometimes mar a modern black metal album for the sake of authenticity.

If there’s one fault here, it’s that the album does sometimes appear to become one long song, given the consistency of sound and the similar approach to songwriting on each of the tracks. This is not a bad thing at all, but it does allow Womb to sometimes lapse into background music if you’re not listening intently. However, if you’re on that walk in the woods, looking to get lost in your own thoughts, then October Falls might just be the perfect route to that sort of reverie.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Jordan Itkowitz
November 7th, 2008

Comments

  1. Commented by: Deepsend Records

    Great doom album, probably the best of the year. I agree that it almost sounds like 1 song broken into 4 pieces. But, good for them for doing so if that’s what they did.


  2. Commented by: Deepsend Records

    Best doom album of the year (I should have said)


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    Deepsend – cool I didn’t know you posted here – got those fantastic Oblomov discs off you guys last year.


  4. Commented by: Nick

    I absolutely love this album, and i actually totally agree with you on being background music. My favorite band is Agalloch, and first listen i was reminded of Pale Folklore era also. Nice review.


  5. Commented by: ceno

    Great review, gabaghoul! This sounds right up my alley. Besides, I often take long walks in the autumnal wood, so I’ll try to check it out for sure. Thanks.


  6. Commented by: Cynicgods

    Really like “pastoral” bands. My next buy, for sure.


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