October Falls are a longstanding black metal band from Finland, founded by Mikko Lehto in 2001. A one-man project in its beginnings, the band quickly expanded to a full band line up. Today, its three members can look back on quite an impressive number of releases spanning from folk-inflected black metal to fully folk. Because of its longevity the band is pretty much synonymous for nature-oriented black metal from Finland.

A Fall of an Epoch is the band’s fifth full length album. Over a runtime of forty-eight minutes, its five songs offer very fine atmospheric, melodic and melancholic black metal. Norway’s Misotheist and Canada’s Monarque come to mind, primarily because folky acoustic guitar play is combined with raging black metal.

In accordance with the genre, the songs’ lyrics are unintelligible and the vocals, although enhanced with an echo effect, are mixed way into the background. Nevertheless, the combination of music, album title, cover art and song titles like The Endtimes Rising and The Ruins of What Once Was successfully conjure up an end-times mood. The blood-spattered photograph of three dead rabbits reminds you of the survival of the fittest, of scarcity, and the fact that the fight for continued existence is never pretty, that the survival of one species means the death of others. The cyclical element of life and nature’s food chain has also been integrated in the album’s structure. The album begins and ends with the same acoustic passage, bringing together past, present and future.

A Fall of an Epoch doesn’t offer much variation song to song. What you get instead is rather a continuous, fluid listening experience and, considering that we are talking about black metal here, a surprisingly pleasant one. Although you can hear the anger and the rage in the furious drumming and the vocals, the prevailing emotion is melancholia. Especially the acoustic passages transmit an aching and a longing of an intensity not often heard.

October Falls certainly have not reinvented the wheel here, but if you like atmospheric, folky black metal, you will be very happy with A Fall of an Epoch.

(8/10 Slavica)