Review Summary: Even though it's still a good album, Fall Of Icons is likely to be seen as a disappointment to the fans of Ikuinen Kaamos' Closure EP.
In 2008, Finnish Ikuinen Kaamos caused a bit of a stir in the metal underground with the free download of EP Closure
. The three-song EP stretched the span of roughly twenty-eight minutes and offered a powerful progressive death metal experience, voiced black metal shrieks that coupled the traditional death growls, and was enshrouded with an authentic black metal atmosphere as well. Opeth comparisons were drawn, and this time, unlike so many past, failed correlations (In Mourning and Disillusion), the similes actually contained some validity; the three-song enticer sported clean-to-harsh vocal changes and progressive death metal riffs that were spaced out between slower interludes, just like the Swedish giants are known to place on their albums as well. The EP hinted at something really powerful to come in the future from Ikuinen Kaamos, and when finally their next LP was announced, the anticipation for Fall Of Icons
began to build exponentially within the core of the extreme metal crowd; some fans even going as far as to say that it would be an album of the year contender when it is finally released. Well, as it turns out, those same fans are probably going to be disappointed.
Getting down to the basics, the core instrumental sound of what we heard from Ikuinen Kaamos two years ago is still here on five-song Fall Of Icons
. Guitarists Juhanni Mukonen and Jarno Ruuskanen bounce off of each other frequently in the aggressive, high-tempo sections of the album – one supplying technical leads and solos, and the other wrapping it around progressive death riffs that, yes, do happen to fall into the category of Opeth-like derivatives. The slowed-down interludes that are spaced between these high-distortion moments often switch between clean, electric guitar settings to the realm of the more personal, acoustic arpeggios. Thankfully, bassist Lauri Saari’s work is audible as well and, in general, is not drowned out by the other instruments – take, for instance, the slower interludes of third track “In Ruins” that sport many great bass lines, dominating a large portion of the recording mix. Likewise, drummer J-P Raisanen suits this type of music well, performing in a competent way, if not wholly unique or exciting.
Acting as the voice for Ikuinen Kaamos, Risto Herranen should be applauded for his effort in having to frequently switch between three vocal styles – harsh screeches, gruff growls, and a nasally clean output. The clean vocals of the singer take a while to get used to; make no mistake, though, Herranen is no Mikael Akerfeldt when it comes to offering a smooth, lulling performance. However, his sheiks and growls, which are the most commonly used vocal styles on the whole of Fall Of Icons
, are very punishing, pronounced, and in relation to Ikuinen Kaamos’ melancholy lyrics and atmosphere, depressive and wounded in the way they sound.
While instrumentally the band is sound and well-suited for the type of metal they create, Ikuinen Kaamos seem to have misplaced a bit of purpose, distinction, melody, and probably the most obvious aspect upon first listening to Fall Of Icons
-like atmosphere in their newly crafted work. One of the reasons 2008’s Closure
enticed listeners was because of the melodic aspects of the music, as well as the cohesive and atmospheric nature that flowed from the-could-have-been-classic album sampler. Here, Fall Of Icons
feels strangely thrown together – most songs, when getting down to it, comprise to be no more than these aforementioned slower sections and the harsher, distorted passages being randomly lopped on top of each other. This causes Fall Of Icons
to lack a good deal in the area of distinction, as tracks one through four can easily blend in together for listeners if they are not careful. Finale “Apart”, however, is a different story all together. The seventeen-minute, colossal piece starts aggressive and fierce with the harsh screeches and the gruffer growl vocal style of Risto Herranen interplaying with each other; the piece switches between the slower interludes and harsher sections with finesse, and, in actuality this time, purpose, to give this song, which takes up roughly one-third of the album’s playing time, character, several memorable sections – listen to the wailing around the eight-minute mark to hear what I mean - and a feeling of nostalgia for the first time many listeners heard the Closure
Fall Of Icons
will not be the album of the year that many extreme metal fans hoped that it would be. However, it is an album that does sport an admittedly well-played progressive death metal sound that has the unfortunate characteristic of blending together a bit too much. Yes, the Opeth comparisons do contain validity and merit - strictly in the area of sound, but not in overall quality - as the distorted riffs often switch to and from slower, peaceful interludes, and the vocals change from harsh to clean styles sporadically throughout the songs. However, there is enough distinction here, between the two bands, that is, to give Ikuimen Kaamos a firm foundation for an identity of their own that we can only hope that they will develop further in their future. Still, Fall Of Icons
does come off as disappointing when contrasted and compared to the melodic, purposeful Closure
EP. In fact, it’s very possible that had that EP never been released, this could have been a promising sophomore album for the band that would have shown some growth and improvement from Ikuinen Kaamos after 2006's The Forlorn
; instead, all that's felt by this experience is merely an underwhelming feeling of regression.