One of my favorite short stories is ‘The Music of Erich Zann’ b H. P. Lovecraft. It’s a tale about a violinist that hides the origin of his nightly playing until a concerned neighbor discovers that an entity is controlling his actions, maddening him and letting him play a cacophonic symphony. I always tried to imagine what such a symphony might sound like, and it might sound just like Morrow.
Today’s record is of similar imaginative proportions. As I read the tags for this colossus, I couldn’t help myself but get a similar image of the story of Erich Zann in my head. Morrow is a self-acclaimed epic crust band that mixes hardcore, crust, and elements of symphonic metal through the use of a violin and a cello. Fans of Archivist, another stunningly great group, will be pleased to hear that members of them are also involved in this project.
Fallow starts off with the band pulling all levers to give meaning to the term ‘epic crust’. The first track, “Auguries of Menace”, shows the bands finesse for build ups and climax. After a short monolog in a Slavic language that gets continuously more pained, the band blasts away in droning power chords and the drummer going all in. As a sudden calm crashes into this raging scene, the monolog ebbs back and we’re introduced to the very tasteful playing of violinist Liam. Right when the monolog ends again, the feedback crawls into the track like a wild beast you thought you escaped. Screams and growls overlap as the track takes on its maddening shape. Soaring guitars, enough bass to make your ears numb, and sharp cymbals are only some of the things to expect this behemoth to deliver. As the band reaches the high point of pressure, the following breakdown is a welcoming change of colours. Violin and cello shine above the darkness in all their majesty. Bright and melodic, they pull the tracks melancholy forward just long enough to be satisfying but not too long to be overdone. Thus, the cycle begins anew. The rest of the song ebbs and flows in a similar fashion while still delivering a gallop riff in the middle as a welcomed rhythm change.
A more straight forward song on the album is “The Hunt”, which hits hard from the first moment on. The black metal accents on this track are not hiding and the bands show them proudly. As for the orchestration, both cello and violin set smart nuances wherever they can. Be it a harmonization of the main riff or a soft hum in the background, on will always be on the lookout for their next move.
Listening to the album as a whole really is a challenge, it’s not something to be played in the background. It’s made to satisfy the listener and make him feel full at the end but at the same time empty, for the pummeling and the drums and the violent guitar drone can rapidly envelope anyone daring to listen to Fallow. From a technical perspective the playing on the record feels human and organic while still being very clean and precise. As a crust record it certainly has this genre typical natural, earthy feel to it. Violin and cello both have a great sense for timing as neither play if not needed. The mixing is the only thing holding the record back. Often the louder, more distorted instruments swallow the softer tones.
Score: 8.5 / 10
Notable Tracks: “Auguries of Menace”; “The Hunt”
FFO: Anopheli, Respire