Falloch – This Island, Our Funeral (Candlelight)

Sunday, 11th January 2015
Rating: 8/10

The easy thing for Scotland’s Falloch would be to hide behind the looming behemoth that is UK post-black metal, ensuring them a spot in the genre safe-zone. Frankly, no one is going to pick up the pace enough to lap Fen or Winterfylleth, so such an approach (one that was taken on the band’s 2011 Where Distant Spirits Remain) would have been futile, and lax. Circumventing matters is the fact the band has undergone quite the lineup shift since the debut, with only drummer/guitarist Scott McLean holding down the fort. With previous main dude Andy Marshall off doing the DR-approved Saor, there was a chance Falloch would have hit the ‘ole sophomore slump with This Island, Our Funeral. Alas, the band has managed to reinvent themselves, and, improve in the process.

Being that 3/4’s of the band is new and had no role on Where Spirits…, the distinction between the two albums is noticeable. Whereas Where Spirits…was essentially post-black minus the extremist froth of their contemporaries, This Island, Our Funeral is far more atmospheric and delicate. There’s little, if any tilt toward the black(er) side of the fence, with cuts such as “For Life” and “Brahan” working with lush riffs, more or less the kind you’d find on an Agalloch album when they too aren’t wrestling with BM. Combined with Tony Dunn’s fluid, airy vocal approach (he’s mostly all clean…and light), and you’re given an album that pushes itself away from the scene it had no trouble clinging to. And it’s all for the better.

Certainly best consumed as a whole, the mountainous ebb and flow of This Island, Our Funeral isn’t fully realized until the last two cuts, “I Shall Build Mountains” and “Sanctuary.” Both cuts are steeped in swooping terrain, almost nipping at the heels of Primordial, who if you listen closely, could be considered a side influence for Falloch’s new approach. Any way you slice it, it’s a bold and thoroughly wise career move.

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