Review Summary: Raw, German black/doom that likes to fuck around with dark ambience and industrial effects.
Not being able to load up on Irish car bombs and Boru vodka with my compatriots this fine St. Patrick’s day is depressing. However, I have some form of company to dread this middle of the week dilemma. His name is Krall and he plays in a one man black metal band called Black Autumn. Whoa! One man black metal band. I know, for the most part it’s just an excuse for some tool to engage in self indulgent wanking, but this guy knows how to do it right. “Rivers Of Dead Leaves”, his second full length, is an intriguing release that gracefully straddles the line between doom and black.
Fusing doom and black metal isn’t particularly new or unique to metal, but when it’s done right it can be as refreshing as an ice cold root beer on a 100 degree afternoon. As the band’s sole musician, Krall could have kept it simple and simply just pasted funeral doom riffs onto shrieking vocals and called it a day. Fortunately, for anyone concerned, he put a lot of effort into making “River Of Dead Leaves” a welcome addition to any respective black/doom fan. Riffs are generally low tempo and tuned extremely low, vocals are harsh and layered, but it’s the outside the box influences and dynamic songwriting that makes this album such a treat.
The guitars play a huge role on “River Of Dead Leaves”. Elongated to playing simple rhythms and droning chords, Kralld demonstrates how effective simplicity can be. Each riff plods away heavily while retaining an element of catchiness. The overall nature of the beast is slow, however exceptions can be made when Krall decides to switch gears. Dissonant melodies and tremolo picking provide the blackness while a distant post-metal influence can be felt seeping in from time to time.
Keyboards are also a highlight. Despite the minimalist role and heavy amount of distortion that covers them most of the time, I don’t think the album would be quite the same without them. The keys bring a variety of influences that somehow gel together without complicating matters. The opening self titled track introduces a brief church like organ section before erupting back into a wall of guitars. “Ashes” boast’s a decidedly industrial/ martial ambient flavor as the dark layers of synth effortlessly coexist with the guitars. “Opehlia’s” opening symphonic piece and backing movie sample complement the ambient infused black-doom nature.
Krall takes a less traditional approach to the vocals. Instead of shrieking like a banshee, or howling like an ape who just lost his companion to some man made monstrosity, Krall hangs out in the background and growls in a thick biting rasp. It captures the darkened vibe of the music perfectly. Unfortunately, the vast amount of reverb used makes the deciphering of lyrics nearly impossible. But from what I’ve read, it’s mostly psychobabble jargon anyways.
Rhythm section is a 50/50 scenario. The bass tone is completely swallowed up. The drums on the other hand are more interesting. Primal and somewhat sloppy, the militaristic drum fills and blasting double bass patterns complement the album’s low-fi atmosphere.
My only complaint with “River Of Dead Leaves” is it’s usage of movie samples. There aren’t many but when they do present themselves, it doesn’t add dynamic to the music or provide any epic qualities. Small blunder aside, this is a tight little record that should appeal to fans from Burzum to Neurosis. With River Of Dead Leaves, you get thirty three minutes of ear ***ing zazz. Check it out or be square.