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Progress In Appalachia - 56%

orionmetalhead, January 5th, 2013

With each of Twilight Fauna's releases, I expect I will grow to know more about Ravenwood each time. In opening track, An Autumn Moon, on his second release under the Twilight Fauna brand, The Grotesque Travesty of Creation, I heard a dog of some sort bark in the background (Right at the 3:39 mark for anyone that cares to seek it out). Ravenwood owns a dog. Sounds like a medium sized dog though I will give someone that can pinpoint what breed a nice back rub. Once again we get a particularly personal release here; Homemade Black Metal from Appalachia. The opening track sounds as though he recorded his shower to represent an Appalachian rain storm. Strange how that rain just shuts off and turns on at Ravenwood's will. Perhaps his mother told him he was wasting water. Jokes aside, this is quite a bit better than The Silence of a Blackening Abyss in practically every respect.

Ravenwood must have figured out where his talents are best geared towards at the moment – acoustic guitar playing – and it is emphasized on this release as a great majority of the album is acoustic and not far removed in style from Empyrium or, to a lesser extent, Agalloch. Contrasting from the last album, there is a significant amount of acoustic guitars or, more accurately, distortionless time here. What is done far better on this release is the overall production. Where The Silence of a Black Abyss was riddled with amateur production issues like awkward edits, amusing transitions and shoddy performances, the production here does not in any way sabotage the product. It in fact makes it far more personal and eccentric than anything Agalloch has ever put out and for this, I enjoy it. I joke about a dog bark in the background and yes, it does indicate there are still production issues that can be fine-tuned, but it’s like the airplane in Black Country Woman or the noise left over on Abbey Road all over the place.

The vocals on this release are far more consistent in style than on the debut release however what hasn’t improved in the delivery. There is still this really bizarre, inhaled wheeze which may be exceptionally difficult to anyone looking for more conventional vocals to swallow. Ravenwood sounds like he swallowed a load of cotton and tried to wash it down with moonshine. It’s not really awful actually but it could use some help. Some reverb added into the mix, some echo something to aid it in blending into the music better. I guess it would be like listening to Countess. It’s a truly unique vocal style that is not in any way acceptable by the vast majority of the crowd but someone looking for something interesting and new may enjoy it. Myself, I’m torn. It’s an interesting and undeniably unique approach that needs some refinement. “Forgotten Dusk,” one of the acoustic passages on the release has some well done, if slightly shaky, clean vocals.

Though percussion on this release is far sparser than on the first release, it also has improved though its randomness impacts the songs. It actually has no purpose from a compositional standpoint. Ravenwood is still unsure of his ability in this area as proven by the percussion’s place in the mix – set far, far back in the boonies. It’s so hidden that you need to know someone to show you where they are. Their inclusion is a sore point for me. Left out, the release may have had a better impact or better mixed they may have made themselves relevant. They sure as hell can’t stay all the way back in the creek though. Slightly fuzzed and twangy guitars with strange vocals, solitary and solemn melodies, nice acoustic passages and simple, no-frills rhythms… This would be right at home around a campfire.

Lyrically, this is once again well written stuff with plenty of interpretation available for anyone that wants to strike a guess at it. Little is explained as far as what songs are about and because this is intended to be Appalachian inspired, I’m still not sure if there is enough present here to really settle this into the landscape it’s supposed to represent. Musically, this seems far more spot on in the Appalachian vein for me what with the lengthiness and unchanging mentality of the music. It sounds old, mopey and hidden. I actually think the vocals could sound like some backwoods hillbilly telling ghost stories or something. Ravewood is getting closer to representing what he wants, I think, as the project continues; we’ll see some rather interesting music from him. Continued improvement is still needed though. Some additional mixing and production experience will help create better defined dynamics, arrangements, and cues. More specified lyrical content would help listeners pronounce what the atmosphere is trying to spell out for them.

Originally written for Contaminated Tones.