Black metal is a genre with many faces, incorporating a wide variety of influences across many subgenres. As much as I can enjoy the raw second wave style of black metal and the slightly more produced third wave, this recent trend of melodic, folky and ambient black metal has to be one that appeals to me the most. At worst the music can be generic and forgettable, at best it can be painfully beautiful, imbued with a sense of longing and reflection. Falls of Rauros falls into the latter category.
Patterns in Mythology, the newest release from this four-piece from Portland, Maine is an aurally enveloping musical journey. The folky textures mingle richly with the black metal and I find the warm quality of the mixing inviting. The album drifts seamlessly between triumphant black metal and progressive clean guitar parts which prompt immediate introspection. The flow of this album is also notable. The album outlines grand dips and swells, the balance always shifting between light and dark; a maelstrom of dissonance and harmony. Dynamics are always a sign of quality songwriting and this album has that in droves. The musical form tells a story and takes us down a winding path. Purely in reference to decibels, the band often builds from nothing into a harmonic cacophony of distortion and reverb.
Initially, the first track of the album, “Détournement”, comes across as a funeral doom style piece but this trend does not linger. The style of the first track does, however, presents you with a musical abstract that serves as a bookend for this deeply moving musical experience. As the album begins in earnest, on the second track “Weapons of Refusal“, we are embraced by lyrical tremolo riffing layered with blast beats. The screaming vocals on this album are not too unique; however, they are performed with conviction and the clean vocals heard later on the album are haunting and exquisite. The heavy reverb heard throughout gives the guitars a magnificent texture and serves as aural glue that ties the mix together. Keyboards can also be heard now and again but they are so embedded in the mix it is hard to make them out. I find this soft keyboard texture preferable and it is not as ham-handed as some keyboard writing found in other black metal acts. Some of the most memorable moments of the album are the fragile acoustic guitar parts that appear unexpectedly, as a shapeless object erupts out of the mist on an early morning drive. The album also features some blistering guitar solos as well as moody progressive rock type parts that blend perfectly with the blackgaze sounds that become more prominent as the album progresses.
Though this album sports only six tracks in total the progressive nature of the songwriting gives the impression that there are more. This might be due to the album featuring very little repetition or more specifically, it forgoes the contrived verse-chorus structures that are still pervasive even in some extreme genres of music. Lyrically the album very much falls in line with what I have said about the sound of the album. The writing is poignant and philosophical all layered with aggressive and depressive imagery; poetic and verbose would be two words I would ascribe.
Overall I would rate this album very highly on my list of recent black metal releases. There is something about this album that is just so moving. It feels sincere and bold and unafraid to be vulnerable yet all the while having a confident and purposeful quality. I usually try to force myself to find some criticism of every album I review and yet with this one the words escape me. For those out there whose personalities are not forged from thirty years of sad boy music, this release might be just too poignant; however, for me, it is just right. 5/7, perfect score.