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Acoustically Driven. - 80%

Perplexed_Sjel, October 18th, 2008

Maine’s Falls Of Rauros stormed onto the scene with their self-released debut, ‘Into The Archaic’ which blew a blizzard of blistering and often beautiful soundscapes our way. This majestic, mesmerising and often mind blowing work of art took several musical ideologies, from black to folk, and transformed them into a modern day masterpiece. Although the title may have suggested that we, the audience, were in for a traditional slice of musical pie, we weren’t. ‘Into The Archaic’ dealt with themes not often blended together in order to create a hybrid we‘re not typically used to. There are those who suggest Falls Of Rauros are a Agalloch meets Opeth meets the second wave of black metal band, but those suggestions are somewhat unfair. Personally, this evocative and experimental band don’t deserve to be recognised as some sort of spin-off to many of the other well publicised bands like the aforementioned two. Instead, they stand proudly and alone. Definitely worth keeping an eye out for, at least.

Although I wouldn’t consider ‘Hail Wind And Hewn Oak’ as impressive as ‘Into The Archaic’, it is still strong and should be regarded in a different light to the debut, as they are both experimental pieces of work. The idea behind ‘Hail Wind And Hewn Oak‘ is similar to that of ‘Into The Archaic’. A modern day take on black metal, with elements of folk. Like ‘Into The Archaic’ this modern portrayal is produced using a number of techniques similar to one another. First, the usage of traditional elements, like tremolo riffs and rasping vocals, mixed in with a more delicate side that includes acoustics and slowed down tempos. Again, this record is a reminder of the work that went previous to it, so the listener isn’t caught off guard with this often experimental take on proceedings. At least not like they were on the last occasion, when Falls Of Rauros displayed a unique and unconventional sound to inspire us all. To me, although a fair amount of experimentation exists on the record, it isn’t there to dazzle, it is there to affect the audience subtlety and more over, emotionally. The undertones of the record, emotionally speaking, are typically sombre to suit the needs of traditional fans, as well as newcomers.

Once again, the listener will find most joy from the less familiar avenues of black metal music, for example, the acoustics and slower passages which create stunning soundscapes which depict vast lands of untouched and untamed beauty. The wilderness that is depictions in other elements is portrayed in the concoction of misanthropic black metal musings, for example, the tremolo based riffs, the steady but repetitious percussion and those typically bleak vocals that display a bleak sense of emotion. Whether we’re dealing with the acoustics, or the piano interludes, or even whether we’re judging the music from the basis of the fast tempos of the tremolo picking or double bass, there is beauty to be found in all elements of the soundscapes. One would suppose the Agalloch, or even the Opeth connection would come from the acoustics specifically, which drive and enhance the softer side to the soundscapes. All songs seem to take into account the accessibility of acoustics and so implements acoustics into all of the songs, thus offering a reflective work with several diverse leads.

From the tidal waves of double bass blast beats that back up the blizzard effect of the distorted guitars and the rolling thunder like sounds of the drums, to the acoustic passages and solemn, yet seductive bass, the music is identifiable due to it’s astonishing beauty. Shown in songs such as ‘Of Stone And The Stars In The Sky‘. Although there doesn’t seem to be as many outstanding moments, the record doesn’t contain many faults or negative points to speak of. The production is perhaps a little thin sounding. One might consider the fact that if Falls Of Rauros used a sleeker production, the soundscapes would be intensified and even more immense than they already are. The bass isn’t that strong either, especially when the distortion kicks in and the tempo picks up, but otherwise, this record is almost as good as the previous.

New England black metal at it's fucking finest! - 99%

hallowedbutchery, August 7th, 2008

From the coniferous forests of Southern Maine, hail the black metallers FALLS OF RAUROS. With two lo-fi demos and a self-released full-length to their name, the band recently signed with the Canadian MORBID WINTER RECORDS for the release of their sophomore album, "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak."

While the new release (like the others) is self-recorded, the quality is even better: both with production and performance. "The Fire We Fathered" and "Of Stone and the Stars in the Sky" (from the demo before this release) are included here, re-recorded and HOLY SHIT they sound fucking fantastic. Kudos to FALLS OF RAUROS, whatever they're doing different to record definitely shows.

Their influences shine through, specifically early Ulver and Agalloch. However, they are far from being clones - "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak" is in fact a tremendous breath of fresh air for the black metal scene. With all these suicidal, bedroom black metal types popping up every day, it's always nice to discover a gem like FALLS OF RAUROS amidst the rubble.

The metal album of 2008... no doubt. I have no worries of stating so before the year's end. You will not be dissapointed with "Hail Wind and Hewn Oak." It's pure proof that black metal is still alive and well in 2008.