Autumn – And We Are Falling Leaves…

15/02/2009 § Leave a comment

Artist: Autumn
Title: And We Are Falling Leaves…
Label: Stygian Crypt Productions
Genre: Doom Metal

Track Listing:

01 The End of Last Summer (Intro)
02 The Druid Autumn
03 Whispering Your Name…
04 Fallman
05 Gods
06 The Sons of Ocean
07 The Dance in Blood
08 Bottomless…
09 Shine on Me
10 Wings (rehearsal)
11 Feasting the Dark Half (rehearsal)

I’m still trying to work out why anyone would release this record. Russia’s Autumn, the first band to name themselves so, originally brought out “And We Are Falling Leaves” back in 1997, and nine years later the ever-enthusiastic Stygian Crypt gave the world this boon of a re-release. Just why they did so beggars rationale. Ideally, reissues are brought out to assuage thirsty fans wanting to stock up on original copies of a popular record, or to give a new selling direction to an already familiar old favourite. Listening to this, I’m finding it hard to believe that either reason could be the case. In fact, it’s difficult to think of any explanation apart from there being surplus plastic down at Stygian’s manufacturer or a band member nostalgically re-funding their debut as a tribute to the doom band that never was. Or certainly, never should have been.

There’ll probably be one or two of you thinking I’m unfair. I’d normally urge you to listen to the thing yourself before making further judgements but fortunately I’ve done the work for you. At first glance “And we are Falling Leaves” fools you into thinking that it’s a professional release with its mystical lush artwork of airbrushed charcoal forests. The humble tree probably gets featured on more metal album covers then any other inanimate object: immediately it screams “atmosphere – this way”, “woefully intense music alert” and “this may be too deep for you” before you’ve snapped open the plastic case. Unfortunately, the artwork’s the best things about this disc. It’s mutton dressed as lamb, Cinderella before midnight or Dr Jekyll at his most ascetic, since what lies on the laser-burned polycarbonate of the CD itself is a very ugly creature indeed.

There is no single instrument on this record that drags it down into the musical mire – it’s really a joint effort. Every note played, every syllable sung, is done so with such banality and lack of skill that Autumn come across as little more than musical sadists. Yuriy Vaschenko’s vocals, for what they are, are not the spitting, gruelling growl that we’re used to hearing in doom metal, but more an adolescent choking, a struggling larynx with no power or force. He attempts some clean vocals as the record progresses and these are equally bad, impressively straddling the line between croaks and indecipherable white noise. It’s not like the song-writing doesn’t need help either – each track is quite colourless and flat with mediocre guitar playing and blotchy drumming, and even though you want to give the band some leeway since it’s their first release, you can hardly be bothered to. It’s far better to turn it off, stick another CD on, or stab yourself in the eye with a pair of secateurs.

There is, surprisingly, one good thing about the music on this album, which is the female vocals. These are provided by Svetlana Polezhaeva and they’re beautifully sultry and erotic, even mimicking some of the excellent female vocal work in Siebenburgen’s Delictum. Svetlana seems to have ducked out of the music industry since this release, possibly changing her name for obvious reasons. Either way, it’s the one ruby in the dust here, though it’s not enough to make the album worth listening to for any longer than the 72 minutes of its duration.

Stygian Crypt have decided to round the reissue off with two tracks from the band’s rehearsal sessions. If possible, these should have been tagged on to the end of a rarities and B-sides album rather than an original full-length since they sound even worse than the material before them. Sadly, ploughing through this disc has really lead me to question the motivation of an ambitious and dedicated record label, and I’m still to come up with an answer. My only hope is that Stygian Crypt have better albums on their catalogue and that deciding to release this was only a momentary lapse of taste.

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