I envision big things in the future of Audrey Fall, a four-piece instrumental post-rock/metal band from Latvia. Although they’ve been around for about four years now, including a reshuffle of band members and direction, they’ve just released their debut album ‘Mitau’earlier this year. Despite the fact that I’m writing this review independently, this is an album that has caught the attention of much of our team here at Postrockstar, with things such as “best debut album of 2014” and “totally took me by surprise” being thrown around internally when discussing this album. I would be a fool to disagree. ‘Mitau’ is an album that has caught us all off guard and is easily my favorite debut album since ‘Equanimity’ by set & setting, which took home our debut album of the year award last year.
This beefy 10-track debut clocks in at just under an hour long, intertwining post-metal intensity and heavier amplifier jarring riffage with more post-rock friendly melodies and interludes. The end result is a whirlwind effort that tirelessly sweeps the listener off their feet. I think the most impressive feat the album accomplishes is that all ten tracks are of equal caliber. This isn’t an album of three amazing tracks and seven pretty good tracks. It’s an album of ten tracks equal in stature, with each possessing qualities that make them bold, loud and unique. The album has been finely crafted so that transitions are only noticeable because the tracks are broken up. If the band been so inclined they could have released this as one massive song and I don’t think anyone would have complained.
The album opens with a uncomfortably slow yet deliberate intro to “1944” before quickly diving into some riffs that would make prog-metal fans rise with attention. Flirting with some double bass action throughout the track, drumming stands out as a high spot even with the excessive cymbal crashing. Drum work gives the marching orders as the track ends in a fury of post-metal heaviness. An A+ opening track that leads into “Petrina”, giving us a short one minute atmospheric intro that leads into a very Cloudkicker-esque sounding track. The constant clashes between intensity and reserved melody here toy at the emotions of the listener. Another strong ending leads us into “Wolmar” which has a more traditional straightforward build up by using clean guitar in front of a wall of elongated crescendo guitar texture waiting to erupt. Although it grows in intensity, it follows this pattern until about the halfway mark when there is a change in pace. This track is a real treat with quality headphones. At one point you can pinpoint three layers of distinctly different guitars, one in the upper depths of each channel and one right in the dead center. It’s a real treat for an audiophile like myself.
“Driksa” is full of catchy riffs that are joined by a layer of spiraling crescendo guitar early on that pushes forward with huge anticipation towards a massive breakdown in the middle of the track. Gun to my head, If I had to pick one track as a favorite it would be “Driksa”, it’s just so damn powerful and raw. “Bermondt” is the no nonsense halfway point of the album that starts off with outlandish intensity, commanding attention with pace pushing guitar work and distinct bass lines. “Valdeka” is the only track on the album that I have to be critically objective of, simply because the track feels as though it’s recording process was much different than the rest of the albums. There is a stark drop in recording quality which takes away from an otherwise potent song. Between that and coming off the heels of the “Bermondt” powerhouse, I would have liked to see this track either removed or reworked if it does in fact happen to be a tune that’s been in the bands wheelhouse for some time.
That being said, the album returns right back to stellar quality with “Eliass”, a more reserved spaciously melodic effort that delivers a powerhouse ending. I can’t say enough good things about “Courland Aa”, a track that fools us with a slow pretty synth build up and immediately turns the tables with a riffs that can simply be described as electric. Double bass pedal action returns and truly stands tallest here as the track makes it’s way through peaks and valleys, driven all the way by a whirlwind display of excellence behind the kit by drummer Aigars Lībergs. This might be the most impressive song on the album in terms of technical prowess. “Priboi” builds through an intro of atmospheric drone before launching into the standard tirade of layered guitars and breakneck drumming we’ve come to appreciate. The album comes to a close with “Mederm”, a more relaxed post-rock goodbye that is book noted by a signature close like only Audrey Fall can deliver.
2014 has been such an impressive year for post-rock in just two short months. We’ve had four relatively high profile album releases and a plethora of bands new and old emerging with new efforts. Standing out in the current crowd of new releases is no easy task and Audrey Falls has done just that with “Mitau”. This is an album that is built for longevity and will surely see some year end lists. It might have taken them time to find their identity, but with one gem under their belts, the future is bright for this young Latvian powerhouse.
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