The snake is an animal rich with imagery and significance. It’s best known as the evil serpent that tempted Eve in The Bible. So it goes without saying that the context animals can and do represent is substantial. On another note, contrary to popular belief, the raven was the first animal that came out of Noah’s ark and not the dove. These elements of dark and light are prevalent in everything from nursery rhymes to film to music.
On The Fall of Acre, Owen Tromans enlisted some help from his backing band, the Elders, to flesh out these songs into a creative vision of metaphors and revolving characters. Opening like a story book with a plaintive introduction about escaping a town, revealing protagonists and antagonists throughout the songs and finally reaching a complete ending with closure, Tromans continues on his habit of delving into literate rock.
In his review of Tromans’s previous album, Hope is A Magnet, Jeff Marsh commented on how “His [Tromans’s] songs feel more like stories, weaving some recurring characters from past releases with lyrics that go far beyond the typical…” And it’s obvious, with the intertwined cast of characters appearing and re-appearing at different intervals on The Fall of Acre, that the same routine will be followed here. Themes of mortality, the aforementioned dark/light imagery and humanity are captivated and reinforced with Tromans’s ability to delegate his passions. It’s weighty and heady at the same time, sure, but its purpose is one set for grand exposure.
The eclectic styles that shape the album’s sound can be rooted in the band’s own love for mid-90s rock. Bands like Everclear and Green Day sound like strong influences in music that features angular guitar riffs and straight, up front and honest lyrics. On “To Vanquish a Serpent,” the guitar’s spaced out sound is clearly reminiscent of the famous alternative movement that took over the later part of that decade. And the opener, “Leaver”, begins with some typical piano chords for setting, before ripping into your standard guitar and drum flash.
The stories follow Acre, John and Lucy and their relationships within each other. With the raven, snake and everything else popping up for moments of excitement, the goal is to express something real and inviting. “Golden Connection” is a slow-rolling song that finds Tromans using a guitar that’s tuned to sound like a banjo and soft-played drums and maracas. Lucy is frowning about the actions he’s taken but he tries to reassure her with the messages he’s come to deliver. Romanticism at its brightest moments can still come off as reaching but for the most part, there is a lot of optimism.
But even with all of the hope and desire, “The Wake Up” is the album’s lowest low. An off-sequenced song that wouldn’t have fit anywhere on the album to begin with, it’s a throw-away in every sense of the word. Sandwiched in between two of the greatest songs on the album, with their feeling of betrayal and forgiveness, it’s a waste. “A Terrible Bird” is a vitally strong song that features some of Tromans best lyrics and “Acre” is the album’s powerfully propelled epic burner. Fierce, with nine minutes of brooding music that never lets up, the ending lines of lo-fi hush are fantastic. Fortunately, the only saving grace for “The Wake Up” is its minute in length but ultimately, it feels wrong.
There’s strength on The Fall of Acre with everything from the lyrics to the music finding ways to reach you. Tromans has been working on music for many years now and through it all, he’s yet to find a true door to success. This wont be the bursting moment he was waiting for but it’s another strong release – one with enough good to get some attention.