So… winter isn’t coming?
dB Rating: 9/10
Release Date: October 16th, 2015
Completing a trilogy sounds like a pain in the ass. You have to carry themes, resolve narratives and maintain focus over a chunk of time that could be spent learning how to count cards or some shit—a tall order for anyone living in a culture of instant gratification. But then I remember there are people like Austin Lunn, who needed just three years to wrap up a trilogy that began with 2012’s Kentucky, continued with last year’s Roads to the North and concludes with the outstanding Autumn Eternal… and suddenly, that underwater Western epic in my file cabinet doesn’t seem so insurmountable after all.
Beginning with the lush instrumental “Tamarack’s Gold Returns” and ending with the somber “The Winds Farewell,” Autumn Eternal is a marvel of emotionally charged, multilayered, natureworshipping black metal in the style of Winterfylleth and Mantle-era Agalloch. The focus is a bit different this time—instead of expressing his most potent melodies on the banjo and fiddle (don’t worry, they’re still lurking), Lunn develops cautiously triumphant themes on the guitar, which imbues standout tracks like “Pale Ghosts” and “Oaks Ablaze” with a resonant “journey’s end” power.
The drumming is fantastic as well—whether Lunn is mixing furious blasts with rolling toms on the title track or doing that blackened disco beat thing on “A Superior Lament,” his urgent playing is essential to the overall sentiment of the album, like the backbone of a heartbroken giant who lives deep in the Appalachian wilderness. And there’s the new trilogy!
Review originally printed in the November 2015 issue (#133).