Blood and Sun - White Storms Fall
Pesanta Urfolk
Neofolk
13 songs (35' 23")
Release year: 2014
Pesanta Urfolk
Reviewed by Andy

Blood and Sun's bleak folk music is, in some ways, a distant cousin to dark Americana from bands like labelmates The Sterling Sisters, but instead of the lonely plains of the lower Midwest, the spiritual ancestors of these guys are from the pagan backwoods. Their debut album, White Storms Fall, delivers what could be loosely categorized as "neo-folk" with an goth/industrial tinge to it.

The track list has an interesting pattern -- every other track consists of samples that apparently relate to the following tracks (for example, the first track, Hewn, consists of the sound of someone cutting down a tree, which fades into Merciless Master, whose rhythm includes the continued sound of the tree getting chopped. The sound consists of a jangling acoustic guitar over a backdrop of dull, growling cello and nauseously twisting violin -- Luke Tromiczak's vocals, too, sound downtuned, overdubbed in the lower register. Veiled Lady has almost the same sound, sounding like a continuation, but with guest female vocals providing a lighter vocal tone. Lord of the Spring has a slightly more upbeat sound, though that is hard for this band to do; while the tinkling guitar continues to give it a folk-ish sound, the chorus riff is something one would expect to hear on a Slough Feg album -- if it was played with distortion, that is.

The title track and tracks like Keen are some examples of what gives the album its industrial flavor. Tromiczak's slightly staccato vocal delivery on top of the strummed old-time American folk rhythms of the guitar gives this an odd vibe that mixes the very old and the very new, and Tides, where the vocals climb for a moment out of the deep, despairing pit they languish in for the rest of the album, goes easier on the stringed instruments too and gives the listener a bit of a break. And a break it is, because it can't be denied that the oppressive minimalism of dreary vocals and harshly scraping strings with that continuously strumming guitar in the background can get a bit old, especially for a metal listener. Metal can be pretty dark and sad at times, but music that sounds this miserable without a whole lot of heaviness to it becomes pretty grating after a while, and it just feels like the repetitive sound of some industrial ancestors of the band's style managed to replicate itself in this album's genetic code as well. By the time Slaughter the Instant comes along, Blood and Sun's sound seems to be pretty well mapped out, without a lot of surprises left to interest the listener.

For those with a strong interest in modern interpretations of folk music traditions, White Storms Fall has some interesting qualities, but unlike other dark folk albums that I've reviewed, I suspect that this is a hard one for a metal fan to love. It's worth a spin or two, but is unlikely to hold lasting interest.

Killing Songs :
None were especially "killing", though Lord of the Spring and Tides were probably the best of the lot
Andy quoted 68 / 100
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