Thursday, November 24, 2011

I Shalt Become - In the Falling Snow (1999)

I Shalt Become was an obscure Black Metal band from the United States, having one hard-to-find release floating around the underground and nothing more. In 2006, a deal was made with Moribund Records to re-release the demo on CD. Rumours spread that another full-length would be on the way, though the 2008 release of In the Falling Snow proved these to be wrong. This material was already available as a demo back in 1999, under the name of Birkenau. So, No Colours did the same as Moribund and merely re-released old music under a new moniker.

To put it simply, In the Falling Snow is as much of a carbon-copy of Wanderings as S. Holliman could create, without just re-recording the same songs again. Even the intro is a continuation of the one from the first album. The style is the same, betraying an extreme Burzum influence, particularly the Filosofem album. Most of the songs maintain a slow pace, creeping into your mind and conjuring up a sense of despair. The main difference is that a healthy dose of keyboards have been added, though not really helping the overall effect. These tracks sound nearly identical to the ones on the previous L.P. and maintain the same gloomy and depressive atmosphere. The vocal approach is more conservative, not attempting to go beyond a low growl. Unlike the countless one-man projects that came along to follow in the footsteps of Herr Holliman, I Shalt Become is quite successful at conveying a sense of bleak hopelessness that connects with the darkest feelings that reside within the spirit of the listener and bring them to the surface. Pathetic acts like Xasthur and Leviathan were never able to match the genuine feeling found here and were not even capable of adding any worthwhile elements to the sound. To listen to this album is to welcome the dark forces that watch from the shadows and to allow them to lure you further down the path toward death. A solitary journey through a freezing cold winter forest is what awaits, and it shall end only with the spilling of blood and a forgotten corpse laying in the crimson snow.

The production is grim and sub-par, just like Wanderings. The synth is too high in the mix, whenever it appears, but the fuzzy guitars still dominate the rest of the sound, rushing over you like waves of misery. The drum programming is not terribly noticeable, since it is buried beneath the rest, except the annoying rumbling sound caused by the double bass. There are times when it sounds as if the master tape was warped, as it seems that the music is being 'chewed up'. It all comes together, nicely, to compliment the overwhelmingly dreary atmosphere and probably assists in hiding the album's weaknesses, as well.

In the Falling Snow is nothing new for those familiar with I Shalt Become. It sounds like leftover tracks from Wanderings, though the quality is a little lower. The main reason for that impression may simply be because one gets the sense of hearing this all before, even on the first listen. This is recommended for anyone that was really into the first L.P. but did not get quite enough. Otherwise, there is really very little being offered here.