Review: “Viaje” by Far Away

Paris Alternative Metallers Far Away have been on musical journey since February 2016. Consisting of lead vocalist/guitarist Flo Lemonnier, sticksman/vocalist Loïs Arnaldi, bassist Alexandre Esnault-Sara and vocalist/guitarist Grégoire Débord they have tested their fans with extremes ranging from Death Metal to Soundscape Rock and even Post Rock, which can only mean one thing. Comparisons to Encircling Sea, North  and even Lebanon. “Viaje” (or “trip” as in “enjoy your trip” or “have a safe journey”) may only have 6 tracks, but almost each song is an epic journey in length. It was recorded, mixed and mastered at Axone Studio by Tom Gadonna and Pierre Danel. So what does it sound like?

“Uyuni’s Lullaby” chimes in sounding like it belongs on the soundtrack to Tom Cruises latest Mission Impossible film. A big rock riff is quickly overlapped with a tasteful lead part that takes the song in another direction while being accompanied by minimal vocals. These quickly make way for an ambient section that is straight from the soundscape playbook before bringing us back to a far heavier sound in the final chapter. The opening track is very much like 3 songs have been pieced together with 3 distinct movements and it has to be said, it works well as a perfect balance is found between each part. “A Storm In Sajama” takes us into Pink Floyd territory with its dreamy opening 2 minutes and 40 seconds that then takes off via a distortion pedal into heavier sounds. Much like the opening track, the song builds in layers and waves. Far Away play with atmospherics and gradually build to give each song an epic quality. Imagine you’ve walked along a desert track for a few hours in the blazing heat and just as you’re wondering if you’re going to get anywhere, you walk over a hill and find yourself looking out over the Grand Canyon. That the type of epic we’re referring to here. The soft subtle elements have nuanced moments that come out of the wood work with repeated listens and have a dream like quality, while the heavier passages deliver the message with a satisfying crunch. “Dust And Sun” continues the work and at this point you can well imagine this album being the soundtrack to an Art House Film. Some hippies take some Mushrooms and trip out in the desert sun.

“Rest At Firecamp” is a tasteful 87 second acoustic interlude with the sound of wood burning in the background. It’s a classical picking piece that acts as a palette cleanser and moment of contemplation before the next full track starts. “Uturuncu” then delivers perhaps the surprise of the album by starting out in Death Metal territory for its opening 90 second passage and verse, before slowing up for the sounds of distant thunder and atmospheric ambient guitars. These then pick up once more into the heavier material as the spread their message of a love for the Planet Earth and the impact of Humanity upon it. It’s a theme that runs throughout the release and a concept that runs deep. “Tierra” starts with the sound of an Eagle and builds through a big drum sound and bassline into waves. Some impressive footwork from drummer Loïs Arnaldi is once again on show as he drives the song forward and highlights the tempo changes with shifting patterns like shifting sands underneath the ocean waves. It’s not until the mid-point of the song that the band reach their Death Metal heights and even then only for a powerful verse that drives the message across. The ambient passages on this one have a sense of menace and suspense to them that is awe inspiring and the musicianship is second to none. Closing out with a final flourish of the heavier sound and sparse lyrics bring things to an epic conclusion. [7.5/10]

Track listing

1. Uyuni’s Lullaby
2. A Storm In Sajama
3. Dust And Sun
4. Rest At Firecamp
5. Uturuncu
6. Tierra

“Viaje” by Far Away will be released on 9th February and is available for pre-order over at bandcamp.

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