Genre : Folk black metal
Release : December 21st 2012.
If you're like me, always digging more underground folk black metal bands, you probably already know about Fauna. Hopefully you don't yet, that would help Ethereal Soundscapes making more sense! Fauna is one of those american folk black metal acts which you can call "cascadian" if you feel like it, although this tag is less and less constructive as many bands outside from the Cascade Range are playing the same kind of sound, nowadays.
But enough said about tags, what's interesting here is music. If the elements used in Avifauna are nothing unusual, they're at least perfectly blended together. Songs are especially long and every part inside them is, too. Black metal parts are typically atmospheric, with guitars, drums and bass lines melting into each other to create a huge, unbreakable wall of sound. Add well-placed vocals into this and that's a successful craft of bleak, deep, somehow depressive black metal. Yet, Fauna is not a depressive black act, as their also long acoustic interludes wouldn't fit that genre. Bearing a strong american folk essence, they're mostly composed of clean guitars, cellos, and various kinds of percussions. What's striking me the most in those parts are actually the well-maintained level of gloominess and melancholy. It's definitely folk for the rainy days, minimalistic yet beautiful sounds. Minimalistic doesn't mean poor, however : with few elements, Fauna creates a rich, catchy and deep sound in any of those parts, be they short or long. Well, short isn't often the case here, but again, Avifauna isn't something you listen to in a hurry. For example, 'Soaring into Earth' start with such dark folk for 8 minutes, which is more than most songs in the genre. Yet there's nothing in this intro which makes you want to skip to the next part. It's well done as it is. I mean, technically, there's nothing to worry about : be it black metal or folk, both the guys behind these tunes know what they do, and they do it well. Not only black metal or folk, by the way, as some parts such as the end of 'The harpy' can't be categorized such quickly. Add a precise, clean enough production, and everything shines at its best.
Somehow, as it gets longer and longer in every song, this album is not your intense, straitforward, easy-listening black metal. Avifauna is all about despair and melancholy with a strong folk influence and nature-bound presence. However, the more you dig it, the more you realize it's a beautifully crafted piece, with no monotony else than wanted by the artists themselves. Also, if you're already into Fauna's side acts, such as Echtra or Fearthainne, this album will surely make sense, as it gathers many elements of them both while sublimating them with a coherent and clever songwriting.
Links : Bandcamp, Webshop.