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Rannoch - Reflections upon Darkness Award winner

Reflections upon Darkness
by Dave "That Metal Guy" Campbell at 15 June 2020, 8:36 AM

Forming in 2007, founding member Ian Gillings “masterminded a sound that presents a distinctly home-grown slant on musical extremity, referencing such artists as IHSAHN, OPETH, and DEPECHE MODE. Early concepts resulted in a demo, providing a raw yet evidently considered balance of melody and harshness.” “Reflections upon Darkness” is the band’s latest offering and contains twelve tracks.

“Advenae” is a short mood-setting track, dripping with pure atmosphere, and ominous tones. “De Heptarchia Mystica” is the first track with vocals. Heavy guitars build in the opening sequence, followed by raging, incensed vocals. Thunderous drum work fills the air, as they guitars take unexpected progressions. “Despair” is a near nine-minute beast. The Progressive elements come through strongly here, along with a darkness that is thick and impenetrable. They also led some melody through here, but it is subdued and the guitar work here is fantastic. Drummer Micklewright is equally as skilled. An ambient passage occupies the later part of the song, followed by clean vocals, but the chaos returns.

“The Hanged Man” is another lengthy song, opening with clean guitars and a glimmer of hope. But the Godfather of darkness returns to claim his throne. Wretched vocals and thick, meaty riffs combine with atmosphere to create a really unique sound here. Flirting with the likes of IHSAHN, the Progressive elements come in the form of constant meter shifting. “Fail” is a shorter song that helps break up some of the chaos, again with that darkness omnipresent. Some electronica comes into play as well. “Prelude” is just over one minute in length. I’m curious as to how these shorter songs play into the rest of the album, but I do like them.

“The Dream” is a five-minute song that features several elements working in unison with one another. Some Djenty elements come with the heavy guitar accents. They are like huge bricks of lead being dropped from the sky. “Hope” hears the darkness sustained, it’s something that just does not go away. It’s akin to the long and hot walk into the pit of Hell itself. Your feet begin to burn, and the pain just gets worse in what seems like an endless walk. “The Devoured” is another long song that opens with an almost jovial sound…at least it’s not the thickened darkness of most of the other tracks. Bass guitar can be heard fairly well here also. The clean vocals are done a-la THE CURE, stained with desolation. It’s a change of pace from the rest of the album tracks, and I think it brings some diversity to the table.

“Dying Embers” features a pleasant sound of light instrumentation and spoken words. It’s desolate but also high with melodic tones as well. What a fantastic song this is…built almost entirely on atmosphere. It segues lightly to “Void,” the longest song on the album. The thick Black Metal vocals are back on full display here. But there are also some ambient moments which seem to appear at just the right time, along with an extended, dexterous guitar solo with some fantastic runs. “Postlude” closes the album, an instrumental stamp that really brings out the elements of the album with clean guitars and piano telling the story.

Overall, this was a wonderful album that masterfully mixes Progressive music with Black Metal music, in their own way. The closest band to compare them to is IHSAHN, but even that is not a fair comparison. “Reflections upon Darkness” is a very fitting album title, because that is what you get through every track. Layers of darkness are thick and gooey, almost as if you are drowning slowly in quicksand. The vocals and instruments play in such a tight synergy that it is impossible to pick apart. When then are on full display, the level elevated to the point that you almost need an immediate escape from, save you might be permanently be sucked into their world, never to escape. I have heard many, many bad bands who are signed to major labels, and yet RANNOCH cannot get signed?

Songwriting: 9
Musicianship: 10
Memorability: 9
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. Advenae
2. De Heptarchia Mystica
3. Despair
4. The Hanged Man
5. Fail
6. Prelude
7. The Dream
8. Hope
9. The Devoured
10. Dying Embers
11. Void
12. Postlude
Ian Gillings – Guitar/Vocals
Richard Page – Guitar
Paul Lloyd – Bass
Alex Micklewright – Drums
Record Label: Independent


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Edited 01 February 2023

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