October Falls // The Plague of a Coming Age 
Rating: 4.0/5.0 – Focused, convincing and a grower
Label: Debemur Morti Productions
Websites: koti.welho.com/mlehto4 | facebook.com/octoberfalls
Release Dates: EU: 2013.03.15 | US: 04.16.2013

October Falls - The Plague of a Coming AgeBack in ’10—when I was wearing an onion on my belt ’cause that was the fashion in those days—I reviewed a record from Finnish atmospheric black metallers October Falls called A Collapse of Faith. At 40+ minutes of a single song, my Angry Attention Deficit Disorder hindered me from loving this record. While it was good, had great melodies, interesting ideas and an old school production that added a fuzzy atmosphere to the whole thing, I was never able to really bring myself to come back to it. It might have been perfect for some of the depressing, snowy days that we get here in Sweden, but I’ve got a quite bit of go-to music for that. Still, I was curious was when I received the promo for The Plague of a Coming Age. With its fantastic cover art, and its 9 easily distinguishable songs, I thought this might be a step in a direction I could enjoy.

Turns out I was right. From the very opening strains of The Plague of a Coming Age—drums, wind and sweet, sweet harmonies in harmonic minor—it was obvious that this was a plague I could get behind. A plague I could really support. In any case, while opening track “At the Edge of an Empty Horizon” is just an instrumental, it merges seamlessly into “Bloodlines,” which ups the speed but maintains a distant, atmospheric sound. This heavier sound, which makes up about 2/3 of the music on the record, really hits a sweet spot of a mixture of old school UlverOpeth and Agalloch (with a just a dash of Primordial). It works perfectly in its dreamy haze, often lilting along in 6/8. The songs are slow and doomy with Lehto’s dying croaks buried under  wall of sound — bittersweetly harmonized guitars, thick, bassy drums and an all around outstanding bass performance by Sami Hinkka (Ensiferum).

The other defining side of October Falls is what I will admit is Angry Metal Guy and M. Lehto’s shared love of early Ulver and other acoustic and mellow sides of metal. The intro on “Snakes of the Old World” sounds like it came straight off Kveldssanger, while “Boiling Heart of the North” or the intro to “Below the Soils” are more reminiscent of the clean work of Primordial or Shroud of Despondency. This side of the band offers much needed dynamics. Moving slowly and carefully, wandering into melodic acoustic work, is precisely what makes the blast beats on “The Weight of the Fallen” effective and heavy. The opening harmonies and calm lay a trap for the listener on “The Verge of Oblivion” and when the cans kick in after those few seconds of calm, it is immense. This strong use of contrast is what always made bands like Opeth or Theatre of Tragedy so successful, and October Falls uses it masterfully here.

October Falls - 2013

It should be noted, too, that the production on this record is really fitting. While one can offer up a complaint about a lack of immediacy and attack—and therefore extremity—because everything is so padded by the wetness and ambience, The Plague of a Coming Age is almost more like a dreamy alternative to reality. In the context, a context not meant to be the most extreme thing you’ve ever heard, it works well. And it’s cool to hear Tomi Joutsen produced like this on his guest tracks “The Plague of a Coming Age” and “Boiling Heart of the North.” His voice is so perfect for this kind of music – which has made him such a successful vocalist in Amorphis – but he’s never been so ‘under-produced’ before. Hearing his voice here, raw and less condensed, adds immense flavor to an already great record, but is cool for the Joutsen fanboy or -girl to hear.

With its more focused approach The Plague of a Coming Age is an immense change from A Collapse of Faith. Some may find the band moving away from long songs and putting out a record with 9 pretty short tracks (comparatively) to be surprising or unwelcome, but for the fan of melodic, atmospheric metal, it feels like October Falls struck gold. The melodies will haunt you and enchant you, the songs will pull you through emotional journeys. Hell, even the artwork is extraordinarily evocative and subtle. This plague will stay with us all for a long time to come.

Share →
  • Ondrej Susa

    Angry Metal Guy is from Sweden?

    • Well I was 90% sure about that after Carolous Rex. Now we know for sure.

      • Yeah, I’m pretty Swedish in a lot of ways, but I’m not actually born in Sweden.

    • I live in Sweden, am a Swedish citizen, but I’m not ‘from’ Sweden.

      • Ondrej Susa

        I thought you were a native speaker of English, and I was right. Greetings from the Czech Republic.

  • Good review from the boss, guest vocals by Joutsen and liberal references to Ulver, Agalloch, Opeth and Primordial cause my curiosity to skyrocket! In for a night listening session along with the new Thyrfing

    • Yeah, actually I was going to reference the Thyrfing review because that was also in the same feel – but what I wanted from Thyrfing was more attack. October Falls doesn’t need attack.

      • Oh, I just lumped them together, I find them both very apt for a night session… The lingering darkness in the Thyrfing album fits the mood, just as it made the last Moonsorrow fitting too.

        • Yeah, they work well together.

        • Listening to this album reminds me very much of the first Opeth album. All those folky melodies and calm interludes create a really specific atmosphere that I don’t think Opeth ever really repeated after Orchid or Morningrise.

  • hubcapiv

    “when I was wearing an onion on my belt ’cause that was the fashion in those days”
    ===
    That made my day.

    • Grandpa Simpsons is best.

      • Huh, now that you mention it, I think you’re right – Grandpa Simpson is in fact the best.

  • I’ll give it a chance…

  • You think this grow with time? Just thinking that I deleted my collection of metal over than 100gb…I now think wtf I was thinking? wtf I was listening?

    • I’m not sure what you’re saying. But why on earth would you delete 100 gb of music?

  • Amazing album.

  • Tanuki

    A collapse of faith is the only release of theirs I’ve got. I never enjoyed it though and didn’t think I’d ever listen to them again. Reading this review and listening to the clip makes me wonder though. It seems to succeed where a collapse of faith failed.

    • Yeah, that’s how I feel about it, too. A Collapse of Faith was promising, but too hard a nut to crack. This could even have been rated higher than it got. But I was on the border.

  • This album borders on perfection for me. m/