By: Pete McTaggart
Fall of Messiah | facebook | bandcamp |
Whether through design or not, Fall of Messiah brings to mind memories of 65daysofstatic’s 2004 debut Fall of Math. While prompting comparissons with such a lofty work is a risky proposition, the quintet from the north of France certainly manage to do themselves justice with their latest release Empty Colors. Though seemingly obsessed with evoking colorful imagery, almost every song title references a colours, Fall of Messiah seem primarily enaged with the task of creating a coherent body of work, paying particular close attention to highs and lows, depths and heights, not allowing their audience to feel comfortable within the maurading distorition, nor within the moments of solitary clean guitar work.
Opening with a beautiful 90 second ambient scene setter in ‘Monochromatic Synesthesia’, the first of a few palate cleansers, the French group waste no time in introducing intricate, distortion heavy riffs in ‘The Gray Heart Blues’. It’s here where the first, and most vivid, comparison to fellow post-rock compatriots Caspian occurs, bringing to mind the relentless, crushing 7 minute opus ‘The Raven’. While there are more moments of calm & tranquillity in ‘The Gray Heart Blues’, the brutish, punishing moments are present too, if only for a slight moment. The song builds to a stunning crescendo, then ceases just as we feel at ease beneath the thunder.
Empty Colors seems to follow this pattern, alluding to moments of unrelenting darkness, taking the listener to the edge of the abyss, though stopping before we’re able to catch a glimpse. It’s in these moments where the band almost frustrates. We are shown glimpses of the heaviness Fall of Messiah can produce, but before we feel at peace within these moments, we are given release. Within these restrained moments, the mind wanders to the darker elements of the record. Not for too long fortunately as we’re quickly shifted back into the more demented, droning moments, bringing comparisons to Oceanic-era Isis and Deafheaven.
There are moments on ‘Rust’ and the brilliantly titled ‘I Always Thought That One Day Everything Would Be Settled, But Everything Just Went Black’ where the drowning vocals, submerged deep beneath waves of crashing riffs, create an insistence on a repeated listen, a desire to understand the barely heard lyrics. There’s a palpable sense of intrigue in these moments, on first listen you’re not sure if you’ve heard any vocals, then after ascertaining that they are present, the mind begins trying to understand what they were. Fall of Messiah don’t make it easy though, these brief moments are couched very low in the mix, the words almost unrecognisable.
The band’s dedication to creating a vivid & uneven landscape is present throughout the record, using moments within songs, and between songs (‘Alors On En Est La A Pisser Sur de Cuivre…’ ) to set the stage for their more ferocious break-downs. It’s a task they’ve clearly put a lot of effort in to, using the aforementioned track as a final semi-colon before the final brutality of final two tracks ‘Rust’ and ‘Vert-de-Gris’. In a fitting moment of denouement, the final ninety seconds of the final track reflect the opening minute and a half of the album, however instead of allowing us to anticipate what lies ahead, we are now able to contemplate the incredibly satisfying voyage we’ve just embarked upon.
Empty Colors is an engaging listen, one that neither outstays its welcome, nor beats the listener into submission with crushing moments. Its strength lies in its brevity & measured use of force. At the risk of leaving the audience unsatisfied, Fall of Messiah have bravely chosen to take their listeners’ breath away & leave them gasping for more.