fall of efrafa – inle 2xLP
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Sometimes, an album is so conceptually vast that it becomes more than simply a collection of songs. Now, this isn’t saying that a collection of songs can’t tell a story by itself – there are plenty of examples of that – and similarly many concept albums fall flat in trying to be cleverer than they are with their plotline or theme. Fall of Efrafa however, through their reworking of Richard Adams’ popular Watership Down, didn’t just manage to write one album of such rich concept – they wrote three, the third and final of which being Inle. In many ways, Inle is an appropriate title for a closer, coming from the Lapine word for death (Lapine being the fictional language set out by Adams for the rabbits). Not only does the album concern death in its lyrical content heavily, it also signals the end of the story, and in doing so the end of Fall of Efrafa as a band; yet, Inle also means the moon, or moonrise. Much like the moon, Inle should be considered with wonderment, and appreciated as much for its beauty as it is for its role as an inevitable end.
Inle signals a stylistic change once more for Fall of Efrafa. Having already changed from a more concise, crustier sound as seen on Owsla to the lengthy concoction of crust and post-metal created on Elil, Inle seems to further focus on the atmospheric qualities that the latter yielded to spellbinding effect. Almost entirely doing away with the fast d-beat, songs crest and fall in waves of climaxing tremolo-picked sections and bludgeoning, low-register chords. Interspersed with quieter, more percussion-led bridges that connect verses together with an almost majestic level of seamlessness, the entire package is one that manages to balance repetition and development perfectly, drawing the attention to Alex CF’s vocals when needed and stealing the show with heartbreaking pessimism elsewhere. Despite the almost 80 minute running time, the feeling of necessity to every minute given makes Inle a compulsive start-to-finish listen.
As across the entire trilogy, lyrically Inle is in a league of its own. The first four tracks all deal with various aspects of death in the Lapine community; opener ‘Simulacrum’ details the dying moments of a rabbit as they are met by a collector of the dead (possibly the Black Rabbit of Inle, although this is not explicitly stated). ‘Fu Inle’ refers to El-Ahrairah, a mythological rabbit who takes the chief rabbits to join his owsla (a group of skilled wardens), and his claiming of the rabbit referred to in Simulacrum, and the following two tracks, ‘Republic of Heaven’ and ‘The Burial’ both deal with the feelings of sturdy resilience yet intense mourning of the warren left behind. Throughout, the language used wouldn’t seem completely out of place in a Jules Verne novel, such is the breadth of archaic vocabulary used. The peculiarity is how natural this all feels with Alex’s trademark roar, heard later on in Light Bearer, Anopheli and Archivist – rather than making it seem lofty and self-absorbed, it adds meaning and feel to otherwise inaccessible text, and working alongside the instrumentation gives Inle great emotional depth as well as a fascinating story.
This album, and indeed the entire concept has drawn different interpretations from different fields. Some make connections between the members’ vegan lifestyles and the way that humankind treats animals, from both dietary and environmental perspectives. Others see it as a scathing attack on war and its innocents (if you can read Italian, a link found in the comments dissects closer ‘Warren of Snares’ and makes for fascinating reading), and of course there’s the viewpoint that this is simply a very well-told reworking of a classic novel converted to music. Perhaps it’s all three of these things. Regardless of standing on it though, there’s one thing clear. If this album is not one of the greatest ever, it’s without a doubt the greatest ending that Fall of Efrafa could have created for their trilogy – an atmospheric, fantastically erudite yet suitably primal masterpiece that signalled the death of something incredible.