So here we are again. As winter knocks at our doors this October, those of us in the metal world are consciously searching for music to fit a precise mindset. How appropriate then, that Finland’s October Falls has yet again decided to release their latest full-length this month. As coldness and darkness begin to become part of our lives, we seek out music that will correlate with the change that takes place. Although I can’t be certain, I would say that October Falls has purposely delivered music that serves as a metaphor of the transition from Autumn to Winter. Just as the ground isn’t completely frozen, just as all the leaves on the trees have not yet fallen and withered, A Collapse of Faith is more about the changing of seasons than it is about anything else.
Mikko Lehto, the mastermind behind October Falls, seems to be treading the same path he paved two years ago with the release of The Womb of Primordial Nature. For those of you who have yet to hear any of Lehto’s work, I strongly recommend purchasing Marras Eight Hymns For Sheol And Nature before doing anything else. It’s one of those special albums in which the sounds of Winter are captured in the most creative and precise manner, making the listener’s experience painfully memorable. October Falls has changed considerably since then, as much of its main focus derives sounds from a more straightforward style of black metal as opposed to the ethereal sounds of Mother Nature.
A Collapse of Faith contains three parts, two of which are around eighteen minutes in length, followed by a five-and-a-half-minute closer. Surely, two eighteen-minute-long tracks might seem like a bit of a chore, especially upon the first couple of listens, but once the songs sink in, they grow to truly captivate the listener. It’s hard not to immediately think of Ulver’s Bergtatt – Et Eeventyr i 5 Capitleras a familiar tone of acoustic passages backed by sound effects of rain and fire starts the album off slowly, before being overrun by slower-paced blastbeats and graceful tremolo. In “Part I,” these two blackened folk elements play off each other every few minutes. Perhaps the entire track is meant to serve as a metaphor for the cold, dreary weather that so often teases us with an early October visit before retreating for a short while. I’d like to think that it does. Although the entire album seems to follow this general back-and-forth transitioning, the intensity of the album increases with each new track. “Part II” delivers countless fresh riffs, all of which are accompanied by increasingly intense blasting and some of the overall best vocals you’ll hear in black metal. All together, it’s enough to make you think Christmas came early. Not only are the growls inhumanly long-lasting, but they begin to overlap so as to produce an additional instrument to bombard the listener. The soft, depressing notes of a piano bring the album to “Part III,” which is just as powerful as its predecessor, albeit doomier. The sadness within the final minutes of A Collapse of Faith, much like the cold, just grabs you completely by the balls. Winter is here.
Every serious music listener seeks originality above all else. The question that those who listen to A Collapse of Faith will face, is whether music can stand the test of time without being completely original. Personally, I haven’t been able to find an answer to that question, but I do believe that Lehto is headed in a direction of his own, even if the latter releases of October Falls might not have the uniqueness that initially set October Falls apart. The comparison of Lehto’s music to Opeth‘s Morningrise has been made before, and it’s still quite accurate. However, A Collapse of Faith is more refined on every level and may even be more enjoyable if it wasn’t for the nostalgia that came along listening to early Ulver or Opeth. Needless to say, Mikko Lehto has, for the third time, created a full-length that should be mandatory listening for this time of year. Maybe next time October Falls might want to consider releasing a full-length in April for all of those metalheads South of the Equator. Just a thought.