Sound — 8
A great album with influences of black, folk, and doom metal with hints of post-rock. I have to say one of the best of 2006, I'll start by explaining song by song. Limbs a great album starter, this song like all the other songs on the album, really brings you into a mood despair, of you being in a cold, desolate, western north american forest. The acoustic and electric guitars work extremly well with each other. Falling Snow the best track of this album, the first electric guitar riff is extremley catchy. The is also some wah use on the guitars which makes it sound somewhat sinister, and fast. The clean vocals on this track I adore, because they fit the piece perfectly. People who have disliked this band, have said they have fallen in love this song. The White Mountain on Which You Will Die very haunting instrumental, it makes you as if you are in lonely forest surrounded by dead trees. Also a excellent transition into "Fire Above, Ice Below". Fire Above, Ice Below the drums and the clean guitars and acoustic guitar really set up this piece. The vocals really come in as a little backed off, but suit the piece well. This song makes you feel like you are near a frozen lake contemplating. The song really shows a heavily influence of post-rock, when the drums do a tremendous crescendo within the middle of piece and distorted guitars do another small crescendo far from the end. One of the best layed out pieces of the albums. Not Unlike The Waves, the intro of the song makes you feel as if you are in harsh winds or the sweeping tides of a cold river. A very driving piece except for the neo-classical riffs on the classical guitar, which are amazing. Then the clean vocals rush in perfectly with the distorted guitars with black voclas closely following after the lead guitar comes in. As soon the rasped vocals end you get a excellent guitar solo with a lot of low-mids and cut treble. Then after that another neo-classical riff comes in perfectly, then some more rasped and clean vocals of despair. The lead guitar in this song really shows off it's tone. Lastly the song ends with heavier riffs, then fading out into the cold distance. Our Fortress Is Burning, Pt. 1 More wind starts with this with a piano playing in to the distance, then a clean electric fades in, with the wind gently fading out. Then the whoe band comes in, with a very post-rock feel the lasts the majority of the song. A piano and acoustic and electric guitars meld together to fade the next song. With the drums doing a very long tremolo into the next song as well. Our Fortress Is Burning, Pt. 2: Bloodbirds A very despairing and peaceful piece until the lead guitar starts doing bends of sorrow, then the piece continues to be very sorrowfully. The vocals come in rasped with a sense of loneliness. Our Fortress Is Burning, Pt. 3: The Grain a instrumental track that is very expermintal, with tons of feedback guitars, it really ends the album quite out there, but in a good way. Most people would not really enjoy this track, you have to be open-minded to really enjoy it.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics for this album mix extremly well, and are overall written very well. The singer with rasped fits reallly well with the mood, the clean vocals do as well in someparts but in other parts it seems a little forced. Falling snows lyrics are just breathtaking for an example; "Red birds escape from my wounds and return as falling snow." And also Our Fortress Is Burning, Pt. 2: Bloodbirds; "Our fortress is burning against the grain of the shattered sky/Charred birds escape from the ruins and return as cascading blood/Dying blodbirds pooling, feeding the flood/The god of man is a failure/And all of our shadows are ashes against the grain."
Overall Impression — 8
As I have said this album is one of the best of 2006. But their are some things I wish they could have done with the album the drums and bass seemed to be mixed somewhat poorly than the guitars and the vocals. If this album was stolen I would pick it up in a heartbeat. I recommend this to any folk metal, doom metal or open-minded post-rock fan.