October Falls – A Fall of an Epoch Review

This one is late. I know it and I’m okay with it. It’s difficult enough to write a review for October Falls. Trying to compare Tuoni and Marras to A Collapse of Faith and The Plague of a Coming Age is like comparing a hippo to a giraffe. Compound that with the shit that’s going on around us, and the desire/undesire to write becomes real. Like the dropping of the Go Away Bomb of The Gone-Away World, the already-nightmarish Covid frenzy became intensified with something more awful. In this case, a murderous affair. Riots, protests, and sheer violence have added their weight to an already fucked up period of our existence. All coming down on me us as October Falls releases their newest opus, A Fall of an Epoch.

As I began my review of A Fall of an Epoch, my initial thought of the album morphed. I wrote the review, threw it away, and rewrote it again. I repeated this several times until it finally made sense. We all know that feeling: when an album transforms right before your eyes. Sometimes it’s a right-place-at-the-right-time sort of scenario. Other times, it’s something else. If you know anything about October Falls, you know not what to expect. Something the mighty year of 2020 is famous for.

What once began as a one-man instrumental outfit of thirty-ish minute acoustic guitar pieces morphed into a folky, atmoblack group with vocals, distortion, and drums. The Womb of Primordial Nature was the first to make the transition. Yet, it retained much of the somber, acoustic nature of the band’s early EPs and debut LP. With A Collapse of Faith, the band’s sound and songwriting took full form. But, unable to settle into a groove, 2013’s The Plague of a Coming Age went acoustic-less1 and the drums became dominant—adding aggression to the band’s melodic approach. A Fall of an Epoch takes approaches from both A Collapse of Faith and The Plague of a Coming Age to create, as one would hope, the perfect expression of all the band has put to tape since 2003.

And the opening title track is a good example of what that would sound like. After the folky acoustic intro, the song takes you on a ride up the black, aggressive rampart of the band’s sound and then down the wall to its sad, melodic base. It’s not the most impressive track on the album. But, in its eleven-minute length, it begins the build that will climax at the album’s five-song conclusion. The problem is, it doesn’t quite get there. While the closer is a booming piece that drives hard to the dark clouds above, it stalls mid-flight. It’s the song before it that achieves the greatest climax on the album.

The powerful ascension of A Fall of an Epoch begins mid-album, with “The Ruins of What Once Was,” and climaxes with follow-up track, “Hammering the Tide.” Both pieces are home to the most memorable riffs of the album and both are heart-wrenchingly beautiful. The former uses drum emphasis to strengthen the transitions from clean to distorted guitars, making the setup for “Hammering the Tide” that much greater. The latter song takes the energy from its older sister but directs it through heart-breaking melodic passages. It’s a song of passion; made ever-moody by the acoustic leads that remind me of Tuoni, Marras, and Sarastus.

A Fall of an Epoch does achieve, to an extent, the marriage of the different songwriting styles from Tuoni to now. The bass and drum work are much more prominent here than they were on an album like The Womb of Primordial Nature, though the songwriting here isn’t as good as The Womb or A Collapse of Faith. That said, the greatest contribution A Fall of an Epoch can give us is its dynamic mix. Not a single nook or cranny is lost in this beautiful sounding record. It’s easy enough to achieve high dynamic range on pure acoustic releases, but these are the best dynamics the band has had since Sarastus. Something that helps with the many listens this album requires to uncover its dark mysteries.

Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 10 | Format Reviewed: 320 kb/s mp3
Label: Purity Through Fire
Websites: octoberfalls.bandcamp.com | facebook.com/octoberfalls
Releases Worldwide: May 30th, 2020

Show 1 footnote

  1. There’re still slower moments but not the folky type from previous releases.
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