Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Falls Of Rauros - The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood

Falls Of Rauros
The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood
Bindrune Recordings

When it comes to finding strange and unusual acts that dwell within the black/folk metal realm, you can count on Bindrune Recordings to unearth them, and introduce them to a whole new audience on a global scale.
Following on from recently successful releases from acts such as Obsequiae (‘Suspended In The Brume Of Eos’) and Forest Of The Soul (‘Restless In Flight’), Bindrune Recordings have signed up Portland (Maine, U.S.) based outfit Falls Of Rauros and released their latest full-length effort ‘The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood’.
Despite high praise for their two former full-length efforts (2006’s ‘Into The Archaic’ and 2008’s ‘Hail Wind And Hewn Oak’), I couldn’t say that I was all that impressed with Falls Of Rauros past efforts. Yes, the primitive production values played a part, but it was band’s lack of song writing strengths that really failed to grab me for the most part, leaving me with the impression that while there was potential within  the band, Falls Of Rauros still hadn’t quite hit their stride.
Now returning with their third effort ‘The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood’, the band (Alongside session drummer Austin Lunn of the Panopticon/Seidr who agreed to help out after losing their drummer following the release of their last album) have clearly stepped up in every way, and finally put together a release that is well and truly their strongest effort to date.
From the moment the band greet the listener with the instrumental piece ‘Earth’s Old Timid Grace’, it’s clear that a lot of thought and time has gone into the production this time around, with the clarity and the balance definitely standing out as a huge improvement on past endeavours. There’s also a greater acoustic influence in the band’s song structures, which definitely gives the band a sound that’s more atmospheric and progressive in nature, and infinitely more interesting than their song writing of old.
After the short introduction piece, the band takes on a heavier and denser black metal sound with ‘Banished’. Maintaining the shoe-gazer atmospherics of the former track, and balancing it out with a distinctly strong black metal influence, ‘Banished’ is a sweeping mix of melodic atmospherics and blackened aggression, with just the right mix of heavy riffs, harsh vocals and subtle melodic hooks and shades of captivating musicianship.
The equally lengthy ‘Awaiting The Fire Or Flood That Awakes It’ (Which clocks in at nearly fourteen minutes) is another stand out track with its ebb and flow of aggressive passages and moments of gentle serenity, while ‘Silence’ is by far the album’s most consistently brutal effort, while the closing instrumental ‘The Cormorants Shiver On Their Rocks’ offers up a sound that’s at the complete opposite end of the spectrum with its greater presence of acoustics and stringed instruments.
Despite the band’s lack of variation in the song writing direction on the album as a whole, and the somewhat overextended feel on some of the tracks, ‘The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood’ is an absolute triumph for Falls Of Rauros, and comes highly recommended for fans of Agalloch and Shroud Of Despondency.

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© Justin Donnelly