Black Autumn – Rivers Of Dead Leaves

Label: Antichristian Front Records
Format: CD, Album
Country: Spain
Released: Dec 2008
Style: Shoegaze, Black Metal

Germany’s Black Autumn is a one-member project of M. Krall. According to Metal-Archives, the band has been in existence since 1993 and there have been a slew of releases post-2003, all of which have evaded me. This includes the debut album released last year, Ecstasy, Nightmare, Doom. Rivers Of Dead Leaves was the first taste of Black Autumn that I had and the first thing that struck me was its eclectic make-up. In essence, this album is all about abstract, sluggish, melancholic riffs that usher you into an utterly bleak and depressive world. But there is a lot more to this album than the standard depressive black metal album. The most noticeable aspect is the portions that lean towards ambient and industrial music. There are even some neat movie samples to be found on the album (Blade Runner on Ashes for example: “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those … moments will be lost in time, like tears…in rain.

Time to die.” – fits like a charm). The sheer variety of the riffs is also something to take of note. It’s not all tremolo picking all the time like some of these 2-bit bands that pass off as bruisingly depressive black metal. In fact, there are hardly any blastbeats at all to be found. Here’s where you get Godflesh-lite drum machine goodness instead – with a lot of passages harbouring some extremely cool double-bass work. The guitar tone is absolutely crushing and is somewhat reminiscent of a polished version of that found on Blut Aus Nord’s The Work Which Transforms God. A lot of the gloomy melodies found on the album tread on folkish routes bringing to mind names like Current 93 and Death In June. Don’t worry though, there’s enough firepower in them to keep things engaging and not turn into a snoozefest. Krall opts for a reserved vocal approach rather than an out and out psychotic shrill that is usually the weapon of choice in this genre. The vocals are heavily distorted and have a very cold, electronic, industrial feel to them which fittingly complement the despondent atmosphere.

The keyboards and electronics utilized are done so in a very optimum manner while still maintaining minimalistic ambitions. As mentioned, Black Autumn seemingly draw inspiration from a variety of bands, not limited to black metal and this fact ensures that you don’t lose interest midway through the album. Elements of Shoegaze, Funeral Doom, Industrial Black Metal, Dark Ambient, Folk and hell, even bits resembling the melodic eccentricities of Amoral. The songs are very consistent and the only song I didn’t like as much as the others was A Darkness Profound. The standout track of the album is A 1000 Years In The Water – magnificent music. There seems to be a whole story woven around the character of Ophelia from Shakespeare’s Hamlet. The famous painting of Ophelia by the English Sir John Everett Millais is printed on the CD even. All in all, excellent fare for a black metal fan and if you call yourself one, you should certainly pick this one up. Black Autumn is one band whom I will surely keep an ardent eye on.

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