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This should have been the breakthrough album - 70%

NausikaDalazBlindaz, March 15th, 2016

For their third album, Falls of Rauros have opted for a cleaner sound and a more melodic and mournful style that effectively pushes their music into post-BM mood territory. The combination of sharp-edged harsh BM with its wailing vocal and a clean blues-oriented sound suits the album's subject matter in which humanity stands accused of failing to take responsibility for its crimes and sins inflicted upon a fragile planet and towards its own kind, and thus now faces extinction, spiritually as well as physically. The album holds some hope that we will not follow blindly in our forerunners' steps and will instead use our gifts and strengths to repair this planet and create a better future. The bulk of the album is taken up by four fairly lengthy tracks book-ended by short instrumental pieces.

"Believe in No Coming Shore" could have been a very epic work with a varied range of moods and atmospheres, and with soaring lead guitar solo pieces where appropriate and hard gritty rhythms and riffing. The musicians are consistent technically and play as a fairly tight (but not too tight) unit. Parts dominated by acoustic guitar or urban blues playing have distinct mood and inner-oriented ambience and the switch between these and the more BM passages is smooth and not at all jarring. The major problem with the album with respect to the mechanics of the music is the style of the vocals; while they were suitable for previous albums that were more BM-oriented, here they are very ragged, limited in their range and expression, and set far back in the mix. As a result the music has to carry the expectations of listeners and there are occasions (especially in the middle of the album) where it seems to meander with no clear direction or emphasis.

The songs are good but not very remarkable and I think longer tracks like "Ancestors of Smoke" and "Waxen Voices" could have been edited for length with some of the slower instrumental music taken out. "Waxen Voices" doesn't quite hang together too well and parts of the song seem a bit disjointed. Overall the general tone of the album is even with a gradual build-up in intensity from the first major track "Ancestors of Shadow" through to "Spectral Eyes" - although the tension at this point isn't well resolved due in part to the shouty vocals and the music's failure to really strive beyond the stars and perhaps fall over through over-reach.

At this point in their career, Falls of Rauros needed a breakthrough album that alerts mainstream and underground labels and audiences alike that here is a band with a distinct style and purpose. "Believe in No Coming Shore", which sticks to a minimal instrumental set-up and a style of fusion music that has been done to death by others, unfortunately sets back that moment of arrival.

Among the blue shores - 90%

triggerhappy, November 1st, 2014

Believe in No Coming Shore is the third full-length album from Cascadian black metal act Falls of Rauros, now into their tenth year since their conception. Through these years their sound has remained fundamentally unchanged, and perhaps for the better; their brand of rural, introspective atmospheric black metal has always been very endearing to me. Whether it be the complex interplay between harmonised guitar tremolos of "Spectral Eyes", the sprawling, doomy chords ringing out unhurriedly in "Ancestors of Shadow", or the numerous blues-tinged acoustic passages scattered throughout the album’s 42 minute duration, the band never fails to evoke vivid imagery of a foggy, barren landscape, all while distant, anguished cries denounce the folly of modern man.

As I’ve said before, Falls of Rauros have done little to change up their style. If it ain't broke, don't fix it! Nonetheless, the drumming on display here is significantly more liberal compared to that of their previous effort, The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood. Blastbeats are more commonplace, to the point where every track (barring the opener and closer) contains at least one such section, making it feel more in line with their similarly aggressive debut Hail Wind and Hewn Oak. Bear in mind that I have nothing against blastbeats; it’s just that I hold the measured restraint exercised on The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood in exceptionally high regard. Thankfully, the drumming still retains all the litheness and fluidity it always had, with all its cymbal accents and effortless fills. I suppose when push comes to shove, the more immediate nature of these songs would befit percussion of a more urgent variety. "Ancestors of Smoke", for instance, rages on with a rustic tenderness, its guitar tremolos and bass lines tightly woven as a singular cohesive unit.

Another noticeable change from The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood would clearly be the production values. The lead guitars are more prominent in the balance. There’s a lot more power to the drums (especially the snare), and the vocals are brought just a tad closer to the forefront. However, the rhythm guitars might have taken a slight hit, being less dreamy and spacious and more in your face.

While Falls of Rauros don’t quite live up to the high standards that I may have unfairly thrust upon them on their last release, they haven’t really done any wrong on this record either. Believe in No Coming Shore is an absolute joy to listen to, and a definite contender for the best black metal record of 2014.

(Originally written for teethofthedivine.com)