We are gently led into an epic soundscape. This is the duo’s sixth album of electronic post rock. The mere title “The Fallen Ones” suggests gloom and melancholy but whilst the title track has a sultry air, the progression is calming and lush. The post rock ring is reassuring. We drift on top of a mildly synth-wave cloud. “Dark Water” starts gloomily with its dark waves and steady drum beat. Progress is languid but evocative in its synth post rock way. “A Place Beyond” has a more overtly synth opening. Melancholic waves pass through its core. This has the feel of a film soundtrack, a gentle one. This is never going to shock us. It gently immerses itself in our minds.
The drum beats more urgently. “Blissful” builds up in pace like a wind whipping up strength, but instead of expanding it slows down to a calmer and more measured sound. I felt this album was thoughtful and introverted. There is no extrovert side to it. Although breaking out as post rock does, the mood is essentially calm and hypnotic. I appreciated the beauty but didn’t feel that I was being invited in to share the experience. If I were to make a comparison it would be with fellow German instrumental post rockers Long Distance Calling. But where Long Distance Calling’s music is more urgent, Collapse under the Empire’s is more misty and mystical. “The Forbidden Spark” is typical but is enhanced by a series of strange cosmic sound waves. It would be inaccurate to re-designate this as the missing spark, but in truth it’s not going to set anything alight as we drift through this post rock dream world. The problem is that whilst it’s gloomy, I don’t get any persistently strong emotional vibes, whether it’s anger, sadness, loneliness or anything else. “The Holy Mountain” has a funereal quality, broadening out momentarily into epic spheres as decent post rock does. If I was supposed to feel emotion however, I didn’t. Rather it was for the most part like sitting on the edge of a river on a calm day watching the water go by. “Flowers from Exile” on the other hand sways electronically in and out, and is an altogether doleful affair. You’d expect that “The End Falls” would be that way too but whilst it is essentially gloomy, it is more reminiscent of earlier tracks, where the instrumental patterns are lush, and melancholy is absorbed with the soundscape of a calm and steady ship.
I appreciated the sensitivity and ambience here but for me “The Fallen Ones” lacked power and because of it definition. It’s a nice listen though.
(6.5/10 Andrew Doherty)