|Heaven Falls Hard|
Heaven Falls Hard was formed in the spring of 1993 by the duo Stacye Moser and Randy Ashberry. They've had a number of other contributors and band mates over the years, but together they remain the solid foundation to this project. They hail from Virginia where they have a good local following, though their fame spreads worldwide, mostly known in Europe. They were picked up by the Italian label Palace of Worms in 2003 for the release of their official debut album In the Obedience of Angels. Between this release and over the next more than two decades they have appeared on different compilations and had other smaller releases. 2007 finally saw the release of another major album in the form of Solace on The Fossil Dungeon label. Over the next decade they would quietly continue to work on songs here and there and finally in 2013 they presented their 20 year anniversary free download album on bandcamp, 20 Years of Tears. Soon afterward they released a short EP on Silber Records, and finally in 2016 we were presented with an all new album The Mercy-Go-Round.
From the moment I first heard some tracks from this band on a sampler from Palace of Worms before the release of their debut I knew this would be an excellent group to follow. Unfortunately their debut release didn't get a lot of exposure in N. America. With the release of Solace and the ease of obtaining digital music through various online distributors, they were able to garner a little more of the attention they deserve. Their music is a captivating mix of melancholy goth, haunting ethereal and mesmerizing shoegazer all spun together in a beautiful package on each release. I don't think I can even draw any good comparisons with other bands because they really stand on their own with their unique style, though fans of each of these genres should really enjoy their music.
Once again it has been ages since we last had a full-length release of all new music from this talented duo and their guest musicians. However, this work feels like a natural extension of their previous releases. There are no big sweeping changes here, no shock or questioning who this band is after all these years. The pure simplicity of the down-tempo music with haunting vocals is once again the strength from these artists. Spanning eight deliciously delicate pieces we have some great material to enjoy here.
From the very beginning of the album the listener is captivated by the haunting music as the distant echoing percussion coupled with the familiar guitar chords and subtle synths slowly drain the listener of any will to leave or listen to anything else. Stacye's magical vocals remain mesmerizing yet tainted with raw power and emotion as they portray the fateful lyrics. And all of this is just in the introductory track "Beloved Sunday". We find similar patterns and compositions across the rest of the album as we slowly drift from one haunting piece to the next as the music feels at times like it is simply pulling the listener's emotions to the surface, breaking down the walls and protective shells, leaving our souls laid bare before the world. The haunting beauty of the simple minimalistic compositions are spellbinding as we drift through "Loss" and on to the dark, yet mesmerizing "Stars In My Eyes" where the melodic vocals become more of the focus as the somber, slowly beating percussion set the pace for the equally slow beating of your heart as the eerie, but beautiful piano, subtle synths and guitars all take a role in the music.
At this point we reach the latter half of the album as the somber, simple pieces come one after another. Maintaining much the same tempo and style throughout while each selection still stands on its own against the other tracks on the album. "Shades of Sorrow" really keeps it simple while "Your Winter" brings out a bit more intensity in the guitars and drums creating a slow, but more powerful gothic sound. "Safe Haven" drifts back into a simpler approach and has a little bit more of a lilt to the overall rhythm and mood including an old rhyme "starlight, starlight first star I seek tonight...". The deper, darker guitars come out in a more prominent role on "Hidden" giving it a bit more of a forboding sound before slowly drifting off into the haunting finale aptly titled "Ending". Piano, soft vocals and a distant wind compose the sounds of this soft and dreamy piece to bring the album perfectly to a close.
Overall another great masterpiece from these talented artists. Their 20 year anniversary album "20 Years of Tears" is so perfect for their music. It touches the soul of the listener and brings out the inner beauty of the dark and haunting music. Simple but beautiful, soft yet captivating and simply perfect. Definitely a great addition to our collection and highly recommended for yours!
Wow, it has been an incredibly long wait for another great album from this band, and even better, one that's release through a N. American label. Though I think it's great this album is so readily available through digitial downloads, I personally would have loved to have a physical, neatly packaged copy, but that seems to be a thing of the past. Though at least we have the nice cover artwork which lends to the mystery and melancholy moods of the album. Ten tracks don't seem to be quite enough to quench the thirst for this great music, but after listening to them all, the listener is left satisfied and fulfilled.
This album is just full of one great selection after another wending through down-tempo, simple and minimalistic sweet music with occasional distorted guitar, moving percussion and harder gothic elements. "Frightened" is the perfect way to start off the album with light guitar and slow, but heavy percussion and bass providing the backdrop for Stacye's haunting vocals. Each track becomes a favorite as the album slowly moves from one piece to the next through slightly different, though all inter-connected genres and styles. How else can the modern minimalistic shoegazer styles of "Frightened" mix so well with the medieval traces of "Burn" or the haunting ethereal rock piece "Take Anything". Just the mix of these first three tracks speaks volumes about the talent and beauty in this album and the music from this band in general.
As the album moves on, it feels like your heart is slowly being ripped out with each lamenting track. Though the vocals and lyrics are the core of each selection, the entire composition is what makes each piece complete. Things like the subtle guitar of "Undone" compliment the emotionally-ridden vocals. Yet on "Under Glass" we're presented with nearly an acapella track except for the bass and deep guitar and very subtle electronics. And with this simple mix this is such a haunting and captivating piece that I just can't get enough of. The vocals and simple guitar are joined by some soft percussion on "Constant", but then we're left breathless again with "Still". The title of this piece speaks volumes as the soft pattering of rain mixes with heavenly vocals and deep guitar. At this point we really shift gears and move into the deep, heavy gothic sounds of "The Shroud" which will really please fans of this darker music. The distorted guitar on this piece really seems to be what makes the difference, but the inclusion of percussion and more prominent keyboards definitely provide some strength to the track.
At this point the album winds down with "Thank You" which is yet another masterpiece, combining a simple piano line over faint synthesized cello. As beautiful as this piece is, the perfect way to finalize the album is with the piano piece "Aliena". Nearly a piano solo, once again the soft, restrained synths are added for an excellent mix and perfect mood along the lines of the classical Beethoven piece "Moonlight Sonata" with different variations. This band should be commended for this album, it is a true masterpiece in these genres.
Label: The Fossil Dungeon