The Fall of Every Season // Amends
Rating: 4.0/5.0 — Melancholy has never been so bright.
Label: Grau Records
Websites: thefallofeveryseason.com | myspace.com/thefallofeveryseason
Release Dates: Out now!
It’s probably best you let go of every possible expectation of this record that you may have had, because this album simply won’t meet them. Stylistically, anyway. The Fall of Every Season, the moniker of Marius Strand, has decided to change the idea behind the music so far beyond recognition of his dreary, depression-filled beginnings, that Amends sounds like a completely different band, thank goodness. Despite being a doom metal fanatic, I simply couldn’t understand the hype behind the 2006 album From Below. Being every possible bit as stereotypical as doom metal could possibly be, it was just too plodding and uninteresting to keep me interested despite the small moments of respite, that being primarily the clean vocals, which were melodic and engaging – shame about the rest of it.
Thankfully, Amends couldn’t be more of a fitting title for such an opus – it makes amends for every wrong-doing of the previous album and becomes an Album of the Year contender in a heartbeat. The total contrast in tone from the last album to this one is as stark as it is surprising, but it works so, so well. Calling it positivity might be a stretch as there’s an obvious shade of melancholy enshrouding the music, but the way it deals with such a far less linear mood in such a masterful way is a joy to behold. Not to mention the much more varied instrumentation, barely resembling doom any more despite retaining the bittersweet tones, resulting in a far more rewarding and engaging listen from start to finish. The difference stylistically is almost beyond recognition, and the difference in quality is just as far a leap.
So it makes sense not to backtrack and compare to the first album more than is absolutely necessary – Amends is as much its own entity, not only being a complete departure from previous works, but a unique album in its own right. A record that consists of (but is not limited to) the uplifting tones of Explosions in the Sky, the varied progressive death metal and vocal work of Opeth, the subtle acoustic flair of Agalloch and much more. It’s not just limited to arbitrary comparisons, though. The atmosphere, the instrument variation, and what’s more, the sheer beauty that this album serves in absolute torrents feels so rewarding and unique.
The actual music itself is very, very melodic, but thanks to the melodies being aided with some quite frankly massive death metal growls, it retains a necessary heaviness. The clean vocals sound so much more confident here, as atmospheric as they are striking, often layered beautifully with complimentary melodies which make it all the more captivating. The dynamic between these two vocals styles is done very well. Opeth comes to mind, but it sounds several calibres above due to how well it intertwines with the atmosphere and highly uplifting melodies the album is packed with. The drum patterns do get rather repetitive at times, but this is only a minor niggle. I will however say that I’m really tired of hearing really great albums hindered by “loudness war” mastering. I’m hoping this silly trend ends one day, but the album is still obviously listenable.
It also helps that each track is distinctly different, as if the stylistic departure wasn’t enough of a variant – “Sole Passenger” being perhaps the most engaging of the tracks, flowing beautifully through quiet acoustic and bass-driven sections with varying and diverse vocal styles, each weaving through each other satisfyingly. The next track, “The Mammoth” being the heaviest and fast-moving of the bunch, leaving almost nothing to be desired as far as quality goes. Then comes a brief interlude before one of the most beautiful tracks in recent memory – “Aurelia” truly is the most evident display of a total u-turn in terms of theme, not to mention a massive maturity in Strand’s songwriting skills. The subtle use of piano (and “Sole Passenger”) shows a satisfying use of control and subtlety, coupled with the absolutely beautiful riffs and melodies that sound so bright and warm. The beautiful clean ‘e-bow’ lines, reminiscent of some of the most delicate post-rock are well utilised in almost every track and serve the atmosphere of the album wonderfully. The final track, “Come, Waves” is the perfect stylistic meld of the previous tracks, bringing the album to a satisfying conclusion.
There’s so much to divulge and digest in this album that the six years it took to finish could have been doubled and the wait would have been worth it. It’s such an effortless listen, and despite that, it’s such a rewarding one too. Great, controlled songwriting coupled with a wonderful, bright atmosphere will satisfy the post-rock fans who dabble in metal, and I doubt death metal fans will scoff at this either, particularly those of the Opeth school. The quality is beyond debate.