As I was quite positive about The Black Fall's debut The Time Traveler, (2016, see review) I was rather keen on the release of their successor. It took the band three years to come up with a worthy successor; three years in which the band did not undergo any personnel changes. This stable situation might be one of the reasons the album feels real comfortable and shows the band had taken their time to perfection the compositions and make sure the album got the best mixer possible; The Pineapple Thief's Bruce Soord.
Clear Perception has a wonderful sound and it seems the band has matured and has crystalized the songs to pleasant sounding melodramatic progressive rock songs, where sometimes minor post rock elements also shine through. The album kicks off with Mother, a minimalistic beginning, where delicate guitar parts and subtle vocals are setting a nice atmosphere. Towards the end the track gains on power with a half spoken, half-riffing part. The last part reminds a bit of Italian proggers Kingcrow. Far From Home follows; an over ten minutes lasting burst of emotions brings smoother parts together with powerful outbursts. Hints of Porcupine Tree, Riverside and Bruce Soord's The Pineapple Thief make this one of the best compositions on the album. The slightly distorted voice during Illness Is A Virtue takes the music in another direction. Although the song really fits with the rest of the songs on the album, the Americana style seems to be miles away from the rest of the tunes. With Healing Me, the melancholy returns and especially the acoustic, minimalistic part of the song really impresses. Both vocalists work perfectly together. Too bad, when the drums kick in the magic tends to disappear a bit. Another strong composition is Waves, where the band excel in creating atmospheres with post rock related guitar parts, fine melodic progressive sections and a solid groove. It took me several listens to find out the song is an instrumental, this says a lot about keeping a song interesting without the use of a vocalist. The piece de resistance is an almost fifteen minutes lasting epical track: The Hollow, that is both a perfect progressive song as well as a fine showcase of emotional vocals and subtle alternative and post rock elements. The wonderful guitar solo just ices this tasteful composition.
It was a three-year wait for Clear Perception and The Black Fall have really taken their music to another level. The previous record impressed me, but the band shows they were able to intensify their compositions, without losing the accessibility or the melodramatic and atmospheric elements of their music. Time to hit some bigger stages I guess. Listen to the album and you know they really deserve it.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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