16/08/2011

Review: Innfallen – Three Days Of Darkness

First Fallen Star, 2009


Tracklisting:

1) Prologue (Inner Locutions)
2) Darkness Descends
3) Day One (Outside The Righteous Door)
4) Day Two (Gnashing Of Teeth)
5) Day Three (Closing The Well)
6) Light Returns
7) Epilogue (Scattered Remains)
8) New Dawn

Innfallen is a relatively fresh project consisting of a duo, namely Doyle Finley and Kevin Scala. The former is no other than the artist behind Invercauld, though, so don’t think for a second that “Three Days Of Darkness” deserves a typical debut-album treatment. On the contrary, I’m particularly critical towards side projects of well-known acts, simply because they’ve already set quality standards that fans will expect them to live up to.

Before hopping onto the album review itself, the background of this release deserves a foreword on its own. Although it may not seem instantly obvious to everyone, the album title suggests that the concept revolves around a single topic – the Catholic prophecy of the Three Days of Darkness, an apocalyptic event that is a phase of Armageddon. According to this prophecy, there will come a time when God would punish humanity by engulfing the entire Earth in complete darkness for three days and three nights, during which time every demon from Hell will be allowed to roam the Earth freely and do his bidding, while the Earth itself will be subject to cataclysmic natural occurrences such as massive earthquakes and storms. Only a third of the Earth’s population is to survive these events, and Catholics only, mind you, so if your heathen arse is as non-believer as mine, you should have an extra jolt listening to this album.

The album delivers on its promises, and you’re treated to a surprisingly precise and vivid portrayal of the events the music is trying to cover. Even without looking at titles, with just a brief knowledge of the concept, you’ll know with fair certainty which phase you’re in while listening. The artists never seem to drift away or allow themselves too much freedom on the narrative side of things. They’ve set out to depict a certain story from the get-go and they do it to the best of their ability – which is very well, I have to admit. It’s like an ecranisation of the story, but deprived of sensual qualities, focusing on the feeling itself. The listener is transposed into the story, and while not directly threatened, the experience of the events is very much first-hand. You’ll hear and feel the torrent of demons on a killing spree, the rampaging destructive forces of nature, the wailing muffled cries in the distance, and the sombre aftermath of it all, where the few left standing wander around in despair wondering if the returning light is salvation or just another form of punishment, showing them how little there’s left to scavenge of their world.

That said, it’s very obvious that friendly is not an epithet to be used for this album. Then again, it’s not the scariest album I’ve ever heard either (certain Lustmord releases still hold that title), so don’t be immediately put off if this sort of dark ambient isn’t entirely your thing. In fact, for such a macabre background, the sound remains surprisingly mild, which, as I’ve already stated, puts you in the midst of things without the feeling of being directly threatened. The samples used aren’t sharp, not do they suddenly surge out of nowhere, which largely contributes to consistency and keeps the atmosphere tight. I might have preferred a bit more dynamics in the tracks themselves, but this can be justified by saying that you wouldn’t be given a breather amidst Armageddon in full swing anyway. Another important thing to stress is that the track lengths are well-suited to the actual images being represented, which isn’t such a common feat nowadays, unfortunately.

In a word, “Three Days Of Darkness” is everything the title promises. No more, no less. Except that it doesn’t last for three entire days, luckily. It’s a high-quality, sufficiently original and well-balanced album. Add to this the beautiful A5 retro-cardboard packaging (which I vastly prefer to the modern fingerprint-collecting polish on every bloody surface), complementing the artwork perfectly, and you really have one complete release to put in a prominent position on your shelf. What else is there to ask for?