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Falls Of Rauros - The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood (9/10) - USA - 2011

Genre: Black Metal / Folk Metal / Post Metal
Label: Bindrune Recordings
Playing time: 45:13
Band homepage: Falls Of Rauros

Tracklist:

  1. Earth’s Old Timid Grace
  2. Banished
  3. Awaiting The Fire Or Flood That Awakens It
  4. Nonesuch River Chant
  5. Silence
Falls Of Rauros - The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood

There has been emerging in North America a Post-Black Metal scene that is characterized by an eco-spiritual foundation and by a flirtation with the tones and melodies of Neo-Folk. And while this movement has developed primarily in the Pacific Northwest of the United States (AGALLOCH, WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM, etc.), it has not been confined to that area, as the prolific one-man project that is PANOPTICON hails from Kentucky, the Nordic SIG:AR:TYR come from Canada, etc. Also among this group are Maine’s FALLS OF RAUROS, who deliver a troubled yet melodic tour de force with their latest offering, “The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood.”

 

The blueprint has become familiar over the past decade, but the execution here is unique. Opener “Earth’s Old Timid Grace” is an acoustic piece, and foreshadows the prominence of Neo-Folk elements that are to come throughout the album’s remaining composition. The cadence of the cymbals has a mellow Jazz vibe to it, making this a soothing piece that belies the intensity of anguish that follows. “Banished” picks up with a mid-tempo Shoegaze riff, and the vocal delivery is produced with a hollow quality that suggests an outdoor environment. As the composition unfolds, the song journeys across multiple movements; there is an acoustic interlude, accompanied by some primitive, tribal-sounding drumwork, before those drums assume more of a Rock tempo and the tremolo riffing begins anew. All of this builds, one or two elements at a time, until a full Black Metal crescendo has been reached. The song deliberately takes its time reaching this climax, demonstrating that FALLS OF RAUROS are willing to go balls-in, but take a consciously restrained path in getting there.

 

Other tracks have an organic ebb and flow that is seamless and uncontrived, appearing to be not the result of some artifice on the band’s part, but rather an unforced expression of the band members’ personal eco-centeredness. “Awaiting the Fire or Flood that Awakes It” mimics the pulse of a living Earth, whose component parts behave independently yet harmoniously, achieving an equilibrium with one another and with external stimuli. The opening is peaceful, accompanied by a tympani cadence that gives the music a primal texture. The riffing comes to assume the melody of the acoustic intro, and then becomes more animated as the song progresses. Here the band show themselves to be masters of tension and release, building it to the point of agitation and then letting it go gracefully at just the right moment.

 

For listeners so inclined, it is worth devoting some attention to the lyrics sheet. While not everyone will share these musicians’ eco-spirituality, there can be no argument that the lyrics powerfully express a diversity of acute emotions as the narrator communes with nature on a personal level. Sorrow, shame, indignation, resolve – all make an appearance as man and the Earth converse with one another. FALLS OF RAUROS are just as adept with linguistic expression as with musical, packing visceral emotion into a compact prose lyrical style that completes the total artistic package.

 

This is some lofty stuff, and at times comes close to veering into sanctimonious territory. However, there is a deeply personal quality to this that saves it from becoming maudlin. Material this high-minded becomes pretentious only when it is of mediocre quality, which “The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood” is most certainly not. Serious, yet highly enjoyable.

(Online July 4, 2012)

Steve Herrmann



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