Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Fall of Them - Deeds of Dying Faith (2019)



Country: New Zealand
Style: Melodic Death Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 1 Apr 2019
Sites: Bandcamp | Facebook | Metal Archives

Ever since the Phoenix Film Festival wrapped and I can get back to everything I do on a daily basis, not least sleep, I've had this melodic death metal EP from New Zealand stuck on repeat and it's burrowed into my brain because it's not what it's supposed to be.

I'm not finding a genre listed in the band's web presence beyond just "metal" and that's probably appropriate. Metal Archives calls them melodic death metal but they're often achingly slow for melodeath. I'd call them doom/death but that's not where their influences come from. Their Facebook lists bands as varied as Amon Amarth, Black Dahlia Murder and Killswitch Engage, but they don't sound like any of them.

Whatever they play, they sound good to me and much of that comes from a tone I find surprisingly warm and comfortable for what is inherently harsh music.

It rumbles out of the gate, literally, as the opening track is called The Gate and we hear what sounds like a regular conversation against a backdrop of an approaching Mongol horde. Eventually, it fades so that we can hear some sort of religious pronouncement and the guitars kick in with a slow riff, to be joined by the thunderous drums of Morgan Olliver, which do up the pace but in a rather odd fashion. They're tribal and raw and they make this instrumental not just really heavy but rather exploratory too, like their drummer isn't Olliver at all but rather some giant insect tap dancer.

When The Gate gives way to three linked tracks with vocals, we find that the band is all about texture because each of the four instruments provides its own and they combine into a fifth. The commonality is a very heavy approach, the bass of Jesse Heney deep in the mix but defining it, that is never quite doom. The vocals of Chris Hunt are harsh but warm and they're enhanced by the periodic backing vocals of other members of the band.

These three songs have similar primary names but their own secondary names. I presume there's some sort of progression from Deeds of Dying Faith through Deeds of Dying Flesh to Deeds of Dead Fortified, but it's the secondary titles that suggest the progression more, from Cast Out the Heretic through Supreme is the Caliphate to Stone Mountains Run Red. This is clearly about religious conflict, presumably with an Islamic focus, but I didn't catch enough of the lyrics to figure out what.

I may be deluding myself but it feels like each of these three tracks grows in length but slows down as it does so. That's an odd direction but it's one that works for me. I won't say that Deeds of Dying Faith: Cast Out the Heretic is a fast song, but it's faster than Deeds of Dead Fortified: Stone Mountains Run Red and it's not much over a third of its length. This also means that the EP ends slow and that shapes our thinking of it.

It's this latter track that resonates with me most, a seven and a half minute piece that has echoing notes float in beauty before it dives into a doom/death crescendo and rumbles along at an achingly slow but heavy pace. Its refrain of "Burn sacred texts" is sinister and evocative, and there are gothic moments in this one too, with the backing vocals moving up to duet status for a while.

I liked this a lot but it's pretty much all we have for Fall of Them, just one single, Ankana, prior in 2018. I'd love to hear what this band will do at full length.

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