As Autumn Calls

Album Title: 
Release Date: 
Monday, October 30, 2017
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For almost fifteen years, Canadian act As Autumn Calls dooms all over the globe with their messages of despair, loneliness, tristesse and grief. The band was formed in 2005 by James Hawkins (grunts and bass) and Andrew Ilves (guitars and clean vocals), and in 2009 they self-released the great three-track EP Emotionless. It was the start of something exciting to come up… With newly recruited drummer / keyboardist Darren Favot, the original duo recorded the (also great) An Autumn Departure full length in 2011, released via The Northern Cold Productions and Naturmacht Productions. Darren took care of mix and mastering too, and FYI: you might know him from his collaboration in e.g. Wolven Ancestry, Finnr’s Cane or Fractal Generator. In Autumn 2013, As Autumn Calls returned with (once again: great, but you got the point already, I guess) Cold, Black And Everlasting, which was released via James’ own label Rain Without End Records (part of the Naturmacht Productions family), once more with an additional member, rhythm guitar player Brendan Peacock. But then everything faded away into deafening silence…

Enter late 2017. Here’s where the (great!) Moscow-based label Frozen Light enters the story. Finally, a new epos caresses my eardrums, but it is not exactly a new recording. Actually, Resignation consists of the three tracks that initially appeared on the Emotionless EP from 2009, with these ones having been re-recorded for this release specifically as well (besides the original versions), with two older yet previously unreleased tracks. The compact disc, which comes with an eight-page booklet (with the lyrics included), got released in a limited edition of 300 copies, and it contains sober yet fitting artwork by long-time collaborator Wallace R. Gillard. And as usual, Frozen Light collaborator Olga Matveeva was responsible for design and layout.

The tracks on Resignation stand for a very melancholic and emotional form of timeless Doom-Death Metal, deeply rooted in the Old School tradition yet with a contemporary approach. The ingredients are quite ‘evident’ (which does not need to be a bad thing). The compositions are carried on highly melodious, dreamlike guitar leads, twin tremolo riffing with a mesmerizing character especially. These lead melodies are like the central theme throughout the whole of the album, giving it that melancholic in-depth character in the first place. Of course, and what else did you expect, all this gets supported by an intensively firm rhythm section. Rhythm guitar and bass guitars, as well as drums, do convincingly uplift the lead guitars, intensifying the structure, making the whole sound even more persuasive, heavy and convinced. Seen the fabulous sound quality (the band took care of recording, mix and mastering itself; it sound well-polished, yet not exaggerated in surgically über-clean nonsense), the rhythm instrumentation is not ‘just a support on the background’, but an important, independent entity within the whole process. Beware, for ‘independent’ does not mean that all instruments are acting apart from each other. No, the cohesion is simply organically natural and consistent.

The main vocals are of the traditional ‘grunting’ kind, being abyssal deep, spitting desperation, funereal grief and some anger too. They are the better part of the vocal part, evidently, but James makes use of some rather blackened screaming excerpts as well. And those screams might be (too) few, yet they do add value, importance to the general atmosphere, for adding a bleaker, more oppressive dimension. Also limited yet of undeniable importance are the (few) cleaner voices (by Andrew). One remark right here: it is quite difficult to ‘understand’ the lyrics, unfortunately…

Of course you also have these acoustic and semi-acoustic moments. Those ones add more melancholy, depth, integrity and introspection, but it is sort of an obligation for some reason. Once again, don’t mind the lack of being ‘renewing’, for who cares about that. The result is what counts, okay. The same goes for the additional keyboards, which are like painting the background in order to strengthen the expression of the basic melodies. I is all part of the concept, and because it fits, it is a necessary evidence.

In general, this album is not a ‘heavy’ one, compared to many other Doom-Death bands. There is no ‘funereal’ approach, and then I rather refer to the lack of ‘Funeral Doom’ moments. On the contrary, the atmosphere is much more ‘enlightened’ in sound and performance, despite the presence of some heavier chapters and more intense excerpts. Resignation is not the most ‘depressing’ of ‘suicidal’ album either, yet rather an atmospheric-melancholic one, more accessible and even catchier in approach.

Recommended if you can appreciate, well, let’s say: everything à la earlier Katatonia, Novembers Doom, Mourning Beloveth, Saturnus, Tristitia, Agalloch and the likes…