Plumbiferous Media

The Fallen Host – Blueneck

Dec 13th 2009
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The Fallen Host - BlueneckBlueneck
The Fallen Host
Score: 65








There is no real way to avoid saying it: Unless you’re very fond of Christmas carols, December is just not a good month for music. This does, however, give us an opportunity to review an album we missed when it first came out. Blueneck, a band hailing from North Somerset, England, released its newest full-length, The Fallen Host, exactly a month ago. The band employs a unique sound, best described as post-rock with a heavy, almost (but not quite) ambient influence. Yet while the sound itself is incredibly interesting, the album itself is not nearly as interesting, mainly due to the often overly drawn out tracks, transitions, sections, and music in general.

The Fallen Host begins quite promisingly. “Depart from Me, You Who Are Cursed” is an excellent introduction both to the album and the band’s sound. The expertly introduced melodies soar above a delicate drum line, and the entire track moves fluidly through light sections into more powerful areas. Additionally, the second track follows incredibly well. The previously subdued percussion takes center stage, in the process becoming all but too loud, and the already heavy track further develops into a growing not-quite-cacophony of voices. Less noticeable but still quite appreciated is the fact that the percussion, which simply would have no way of getting even louder, instead grows along with the track by incorporating increasing complexity into its lines.

Unfortunately, the remainder of the album does not measure up to the first pair of tracks. While the fact that the music never ceases to grow and contract, thus never fully devolving into blatant, undiluted repetition, is quite pleasing, single-minded crescendos that occur over the space of, say, five entire minutes are not as welcome. And yet this seems to be the case for much of The Fallen Host. Equally unfortunate, given how entrancing the louder sections of The Fallen Host can be, is Blueneck’s insistence on dwelling for near-indefinite periods of time on soft sections. And while soft can theoretically be just as nice as loud, especially as it often gives the vocals a chance to shine, the soft sections on The Fallen Tree are the sections most likely to devolve into shameless, stale repetition.

As with many other vocal post-rock albums, the vocal element of The Fallen Host takes on an airy, vaguely inhuman cast, singing the sort of monumental song best suited to the epic crescendoes so familiar to the genre. Following the first two instrumental tracks, the addition of vocals on “Low” is an interesting and well-planned addition to already complex music. In general, the vocals complement rather than clash – extremely important for music which, like Blueneck’s, relies heavily on carefully crafted harmony.

Though the vocals of The Fallen Host are generally quite strong, they stumble in the same places as does the album as a whole, most notably in the mismatch between length and variation. As the instrumental sections repeat and occasionally near the point of being tiresome, so do the vocals – without a constant backing capable of spanning the nearly ten minutes of The Fallen Host‘s longest tracks, the vocals become equally repetitive, settling into a sleep-inducing near-drone. During the active sections of the album, however, the vocals shine, an excellent accompaniment to the instrumental main act.

The Fallen Host is an interesting album – well-crafted instrumentals combine with a vocal accompaniment and an intriguingly intense sound to create inspired post-rock. It’s a disappointment, then, that Blueneck saw the need to extend many of the tracks past the point of engagement, to the point where the most novel ideas become overplayed. Several of The Fallen Host‘s tracks would have been stronger at, say, half the length, not least the final track, “Revelations,” which, at over nine minutes, runs out of steam quite quickly. But issues with length notwithstanding, Blueneck has certainly shown a great deal of creativity on The Fallen Host. It would be even better if it didn’t run out so quickly.


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