Wistful, mournful and melancholic – the three words that sum up this new album from Celtachor’s guitarist Fionn Stafort.
It’s not a time for the energy and rabble rousing of his day job.
In complete contrast this is an album of rather more pastoral and naturalistic black metal, done introspectively and with a certain grace.
Immeditaly one is reminded of Falkenbach, October Falls, Fen and certain elements of Wolves In The Throne Room or Panopticon – the less speedy ones, at any rate.
More prominently though are nods to Summoning, a band at this stage almost lost to the ravages of time. It’s good to know they still have an influence. This album has their hypnotic looping feel through simple but rich riffs, encircled ever so lightly in wispy keyboard textures.
‘Autumnal Breath’ is solemn with a well placed harmonised lead melody sighing toward its conclusion, before ‘Gaoth’ shows a little more Fionn’s softer side with some cleaner work – as does the piano intro to ‘Will Of Mountains’.
This kind of dewy, earthy black metal can often have an emotional resonance equal to the genre’s fiercer varieties, and there is much to like here in the kind of mournful feel this album has.
It’s appealing too in terms of its closeness to an imagined Irish landscape – much like contemporaries Corr Mhona.
The big question though is whether these nine lengthy tracks differ sufficiently from one another to avoid just blurring together.
That’s what’s happening vocally: the screech is set far back, and blurs into the bigger musical picture as if it were another sound effect. And yet for this style, that’s almost the brief, as we’ve learned over the years.
Still though it does lend an air of saminess by the late stages of the album.
‘Where Leaves Depart’ takes a slightly different tack though, with a seemingly thicker and more direct guitar and bass mix, recalling perhaps ‘Brave Murder Day’s approach briefly, before some nice organ textures shake it all up a bit at the end.
Those weeping guitar harmonies come back to prominence in ‘Dying Seasons Glory’, and its good to hear that Fionn isnt afraid to bend the life out of some of the melody notes.
Overall this album is a strong and commendable pastoral BM wash – but it is a wash, with perhaps one or two songs too many on here. It can feel a bit repetitive at times, hence a bit of pruning would have been good.
The major changes in tempo seem to happen earlier in the album rather than later, and some greater variety in the beats would have been helpful over the entirety of it.
The emotion is there though, and it does have a very palpable atmosphere about it. It also sits a genre not too common in Irish metal at least, showing its distinctiveness. And as I said at the start, anything that recalls the awesome Summoning generally gets my vote.
It would be great stuff for a long walk in the hills or the woods, so if you’re doing that, make sure to take it for your headphones. It’ll be most rewarding in its proper setting, which is certainly where it can be savoured properly.
2.9 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 12/07/16