An album of dark, bleak ambient Metal tones, coupled with Celtic imagery and storytelling make this one not to be missed.
Although this is the second full length release from F.T.B.O.A., I readily admit to it being the first occasion that our paths have crossed. The band name intrigued me, the tag of Dark Ambient drew me in further and so I decided to immerse myself and descend into a dark place to experience something of which I had no idea or preconceptions.
Straight away, I will tell you, this is a musical experience that is not for the faint hearted, you will be taken down some very bleak and ominous paths whilst listening to this, make sure you’re not alone and that the sun is still high in the sky, otherwise you will be looking over your shoulder every few minutes such is the mood created by these compositions. I call it a musical experience but that really does not tell half the story, this is music, storytelling and atmospheric recollecting all rolled into one.
The idea and concept has been exhumed from the mind of one Conchúir O’Drona, who has succeeded in conveying the essence and stark beauty of growing up in the west of Ireland. Not only that, he has added a different dimension to that image by setting it to a back drop of Depressive, Funereal and Black Metal tones that make this album a creative masterpiece.
The first track ’Aughiska Mor’ opens with the sound of driving rain beating down upon the sodden ground whilst chilling ambient noise filters through the mists to send shivers down your spine, every bird call, every snapping twig feels like a warning of impending doom, serving to heighten the senses of the listener.
‘An Seanchai’ featuring the storytelling of Eddie Lenihen is simply gripping, I was transfixed and totally engrossed by his dark folk tale meanderings of killer Weasels, murderous and perverted religious beliefs and the stark quote, “ You’ll mess with the Irish faeries and your dead..” . Again the whole passage set against a veil of almost soothing and yet blacker than black noise.
In a way, this album is a further extension of traditional Irish folklore and storytelling but brought into the modern era hand in hand with a Black Metal based musical score designed to enhance and enrich.
‘Hell Complex’, featuring Maurice De Jong (Gnaw Their Tongues), depending on your musical leanings, may prove to be the most demanding of tracks to absorb, it took me a few listens to start to appreciate exactly what was on offer but, perseverance proved worthwhile as it is now one of my favourite tracks on the album. The vocal is as extreme as you could possibly get, initially putting you on the backfoot but ultimately getting the thumbs up as it fit’s the tone and mood to perfection.
There is such an overwhelming feeling of isolation and sadness on offer here, ’Inish Cathaigh’, with its deep bestial, almost inaudible growls against a spoken word poetical passage of despair and hopelessness, is as moving as it is un nerving. The title track, whilst possibly the most Metal of tunes on the album is without doubt the most user friendly in terms of ease to listen to, featuring guest appearances from Chris Naughton (Winterfylleth) and Ken Sorceron (Abigail Williams) it follows a more recognised Black Metal path but still maintains a level of uniqueness that is lacking in many bands who dwell in this sub genre.
The album closer ’Conversatio Morum’ is exceptionally clever, clean and pure monastic chanting evoking thoughts of purity and light, ripped apart by an anarchic wave of destructive noise, thrusting a black dagger into the heart of all that it tries to protect.
Listening to this album has truly been a journey, one which I had no idea where the starting point was or where my destination would be. In between, I’ve experienced one of the most thought provoking, chilling, sobering pieces of musical art (for that is what it is) that I have ever come across.
If you’re going to attempt the journey yourself then do so with an open and un cluttered mind, think of it as visiting an art gallery or museum, you may not like all you see and hear that’s on display but ultimately, it is there for a reason and as such deserves to be appreciated.
1. Aughiska Mor.
2. An Seanchai (featuring Eddie Lenihen).
3. Hell Complex (featuring Maurice De Jong).
4. Rise In Bealtaine, Turn To Ash In Samhain.
5. Inish Cathaigh.
6. Roots Of This Earth Within My Blood (featuring Chris Naughton and Ken Sorceron).
7. Conversatio Morum.
Bryan Ó Súileabháin.
Released via Human Jigsaw Records on March the 18th.