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The crescendos arrive precisely when they mean to. - 76%

PassiveMetalhead, June 8th, 2017

“The pent waters spread out into a long oval lake, pale Nen Hithoel, fenced by steep grey hills.... At the far southern end rose three peaks. The midmost stood somewhat forward from the others and sundered from them, an island in the waters, about which the flowing River flung pale shimmering arms. Distant but deep there came up on the wind a roaring sound like the roll of thunder heard far away… I hear the endless voice of Rauros calling.”

Effectively, J.R.R. Tolkien’s description of the scenery that surrounds enormous, cascading Falls of Rauros from Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring could serve as a metaphoric review for any album that the black metal band Falls of Rauros release. Since 2005, the band have been incorporating flourishes of folk and progressiveness into their Cascadian black metal to evoke a sense of naturalistic wonder. Although they are still rooted within the underground scene, 2011’s “The Light that Dwells in Rotting Wood" was their closest they came to breaking through and standing tall alongside established atmospheric black metal bands such as Wolves in the Throne Room, Panopticon and Saor.

Constantly improving their production on each subsequent album, Falls of Rauros’ latest release, “Vigilance Perennial”, maintains this development, although it still captures the raw, naturalistic ambience that the band reside most comfortably in. Rawness in extreme metal album can be an effective tool as it enhances the mysticism and primal ideologies that surrounds the genre, forcing you to pierce the hellish surroundings and peer deeper into the music. However, it also runs the risk of appearing coarse and stifled. While Falls of Rauros avoid stumbling into this production pit they do have a tendency to tiptoe around the edge of it. Unfortunately, Ray’s talented drumming abilities are often lost in the mix due to the layered guitars and vocals that take precedence over the album which is a shame because the intense blast-beats on “Vigilance Perennial” are often the driving force behind the album’s emotional captivation.

Traditional traits of atmospheric black metal such as soaring tremolo guitars, anguished howling and thunderous rhythm sections are displayed here and while it’s nothing different to anything the bands that belong to that genre do, it’s uplifting to hear Falls of Rauros execute these features with such seamless cohesion. “Arrow and Kiln” perfectly establishes a frenzied, terrifying atmosphere instantaneously with hysterical leads and frantic drums. Their harrowed urgency never diminishes throughout the 12 minutes as the wildness this band evokes weaves between daunting melodies, gliding synth and folksy interludes. This claustrophobic effect is a constant theme throughout the album, except the blissful instrumental “Warm Quiet Centuries of Rain”, and materialises more sporadically on the opener “White Granite”. At first, the opener is slumberous with maddening vocals however spines of jagged guitars are entwined with soft, extensive solos that enhance Falls of Rauros’ rustic, ever-changing soundscape.

What makes “Vigilance Perennial” sound so conquering is the band’s ability to subtly shift between styles at calculated moments. Aaron’ catches you off-guard as traumatic shrieks erupt from acoustic passages in “Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes” which in turn signals a drone-like interlude of isolated drums and cavernous bass. “Impermanence Streakt Through Marble” also displays this progressive nature. Due to the mellifluous riffs and increasingly tortured vocals and subtle choir-like synth, the sylvan atmosphere is more tangible on this song than its predecessors. It’s in these last final moments that “Vigilance Perennial” wraps its cold embrace around your spirit and lifts you into the skies. If the album resembled the last 3 minutes, there’d be no denying its ascendancy.

Originally written on http://www.sputnikmusic.com/review/73410/Falls-of-Rauros-Vigilance-Perennial/