Tempestuous Fall. Another new name and one wrapped in grandeur and Classical allusion. Just a little peek behind the thick curtains and we catch a glimpse of the robed mastermind behind the heavy sobriquet; it is father Hades himself, the Australian enigma Dis Pater who last year graced us with a unique view of black metal that was The Crevices Below and before that the ambient black journey of Midnight Odyssey. Not an artist to do things without a vision therefore and one who seems to feel that each step requires a fresh mantle. So, this time what have we been offered?
Opening song ‘Old And Grey’ stretches out wings of keyboards that VNV Nation might choose as an introduction to some bleak, emotionally raw tale and then spreads them across an epic of slow riffing funeral doom. The vocals are harsh, but in a resonant manner that opens space for the clean vocals to step into. Sedate, graceful and thoughtful it slides between the classical and the funeral with unerring steps. It is full on, grandiose music and your attitude to that will dictate you reaction but it has the unique touch of Dis Pater and so admirers will not feel lost.
‘Beneath A Stone Grave’ begins with a sparse sound that is mid period Dead Can Dance suddenly, mercilessly deluged by harsh funeral doom and slowly dragged to an altar and a discordant church organ. Loud, monolithic and oddly cold and removed it feels almost like an imperfect echo of a past moment, our passing through a place of decaying stone. ‘ Marble Tears’ strengthens the funeral doom further but despite the assured construction the riff and the keyboard motif becomes leaden, jaded and the feeling that you are somehow shuffling in a vast circle creeps in. Which only accentuates the feeling of light piecing the mind cloying fug that the delicate melody which rises creates. Was this deliberate? It works, is all I can say, and works like a splash of cool water.
‘The Stars Would Not Awake You’ brings simple piano to the fore before the melancholy doom engulfs it once more before ‘A Cold, Stale Goodbye’ closes the play with finality.
At over an hour this is another long piece to absorb and you cannot help but be impressed by the thought at work here. However there may be facets that grate on some like me beyond the sheer length. The biggest is the over reliance on an oboe-like keyboard sound which begins as melancholy, or musical shorthand for the same, but by the end makes my ears clench up at its shrill, predictable lilt. Secondly there is, apart from those quiet passages, an unwavering single pace throughout the album made all the more grinding by the harsh guitar which eventually wears me down. It leaves me more frustrated than enveloped in the end.
It is impressive in scope, presentation and ambition, but Tempestuous Fall is for me the least successful of Dis Pater’s work so far. But he does have lofty standards so try it yourself and see.