(Hand/Eye, P.O. Box 131, Glenville, PA 17329-0131 USA http://www.somedarkholler.com/)
A musical aboutface for these heretofore Gothic metallurgists who reinvent themselves as acoustic wyrdfolkers. (A fitting juncture for the change, as their third release finds a home on the imprint run by the term’s coiner, Timothy Renner of Stone Breath, Snakeoil Jamboree, Timothy the Revelator, et. al. fame.) Following a couple of brief introductory passages, things really begin to roll on “Fleeting Faunus and the Prophecy of the Fields,” with a penny whistle arcade and Matt Zaun’s throbbing bass drum carrying the dual guitars of Erik Wivinus and Jason Kesselring on an ominous death march through the valley of hell, complete with disembodied vocals from desperately lost souls.
Borrowing from literature (Kesselring’s bowel-clearing vocals are perfectly suited to the dark imagery of Poe’s “The Sleeper” and serve as the perfect dress rehearsal for his Satyrswitch solo project, which was simultaneously coming to fruition over on Camera Obscura via ‘The High Lonesome Sound of…’), religious iconography (“The Cross of Lorraine,” “Mary Magdalene,” “Rex Mundi”), and mythology (“The Windy Tree” and “Wildes Heer”), the band still retain some of their Gothic trappings on the haunting, Cure-ish instrumental “Mary Magdalene,” highlighted by bassist Dave Onnen’s heavy, melodic basslines that Si Gallup would be proud of and which could sit comfortably on any of their suicide trilogy (‘Faith’/’Seventeen Seconds’/’Pornography’). Elsewhere, the speaker-humming, ambient death rattle of “Beyond the Ice and Storm” and the hesitant, soul-searching meanderings of “When the Hounds of Spring are on Winters Traces” present improvisational acoustic jamming at its finest.
Sonic depth charges (think Pink Floyd’s “Echoes”) propel “Rex Mundi” to its climactic, straight-out-of-the-Chambers Brothers’-“Time Has Come Today” echoed drum rattle and the happy, strumming singalong, “The Windy Tree” belies its morbid lyrics of death and destruction. Onnen’s sound mix is meticulously razor-sharp throughout in the great tradition of Martin (Joy Division) Hannett and Mike (Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees) Hedges, making this an amazing, bootstrap-lifting musical rethink on par with Japan’s rebirth from garagey, N. Y. Dolls wannabes to glammy art rockers or Marc Bolan’s transition from cross-legged hippie to the king of glam and glitter. It’s an essential addition to your collection and, with Kesselring following this up with his darkly acoustic Satyrswitch project, I’m eager to hear where these guys go next. (Jeff Penczak)