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The Plague Of A Coming Age - 67%

Buarainech, January 31st, 2014

Despite having garnered more of a name for themselves since October Falls have been off my radar for quite some time- not since their duo of EPs entitled The Streams Of The End and Sarasus in 2007. Since then they've released a handful of well received albums of which The Plague Of A Coming Age is their third, and from what I have gathered they have been mixing the twin styles of Melodic Black/Dark Metal and Acoustic (Neo)Folk from those EPs through all 3. Having not heard them I cannot say for sure, but if ever during October Falls' evolution through the past 6 years this blending may have seemed unnatural or forced then that mountain has well and truly been climbed over now- this is seamless and wonderfully organic-sounding stuff.

There is definite ebbs and flows on this album as it sweeps between a vibe like (a less intense) Primordial on opening instrumental “At The Edge Of An Empty Horizon” to a host of Folk/Black Metal comparisons both past and present like early Ulver and Dornenreich on “Bloodlines”, Gallowbraid plus their countrymen Wyrd on “The Verge Of Oblivion” and in the dreamier passages of “Snakes Of The Old World” like their most often touted spiritual brethren- Agalloch. At times it feels like those comparisons to Cascadian bands are mostly sonic rather than musical, as there is a lot here rooted staunchly in the European Pagan Metal tradition, but that slick, modern production turns out to be the uniting force that binds this album together.

There are times where it branches out from that aura of Autumnal beauty, like the clean vocals on the title track which share a delivery style with Jonas Renske of Katatonia, but are nevertheless wonderfully unique in tone and fragility whilst the martial drumming on “Beneath The Souls” shows the Neofolk leanings and the acoustic ballad of “Boiling Heart Of The North” has an intriguing Gothic overtone. For the most part though this album rarely goes outside of its modus operandi and that I feel is its key weakness- it is all grey throughout and therefore I find it too safe, too samey, not as musically adventurous as many of its peers. The biggest problem I find is with the lack of contrasts- for 50 minutes we are swept along on a sea of snow and fallen leaves but with no altering between darkness and light. This is stuck perpetually in one atmosphere that October Falls are either unwilling or unable to break out of.

Perhaps that is a sign of this album's mournful spirit at work and doing its job well, but I find this a difficult album to get excited about, and therefore also a difficult album to write about. I can understand why fans of the band would find this beautiful, but for some like me it may be too ethereal to connect and leave them feeling cold and dulled. October Falls are a band that no comparisons can really do justice to, they are a band that seemingly will only inspire either love or disregard and I cannot tell you which it will be with you. You will just have to find out for yourself. [6/10]

From WAR ON ALL FRONTS A.D. 2013 zine-