Review Summary: Beauty through restraint
It’s not the moments of raw intensity that make Falls of Rauros so special, but their use of restraint. Not to downplay the band’s ability to craft a monolithic, intimidating wall of sound, but it’s during those quieter moments – when every note seems to weep and resonate – that the band goes in for the kill. We’ve all heard breakneck-speed blast beats and tremolo riffs from countless black metal acts, but few are able to match Falls of Rauros’ precise attention to detail. Their music has always carried a sense of both elegance and depth; a sound that has finally come to full fruition on the epic Vigilance Perennial.
For a band that pulls their name from the ruins of Tolkien mythology, Falls of Rauros wear their epic influence on their sleeve, but also aren’t afraid of expanding their sound into new horizons. With each album, the American black metal act direct the flow of their force further in the direction of experimentation and blissful post-rock territory. The first few breaths of “Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes” sound unlike anything from the band’s past efforts; with a warm, growing echo of delicate guitars, the song’s intro is a thing of indescribable beauty. Never before have Falls of Rauros crafted a song with such strong ambience, and it’s a shame they didn’t carry this more ethereal mood further into the track. It’s a minor nitpick, but their potential to make one hell of a strictly ambient-based track (or album) is certainly evident here.
Aside from new layers of experimentation, all of Falls of Rauros’ signature trademarks are still here: the swelling build-ups, the cavernous vocals, and the moments of contrasting beauty and despair. Yet, their sound has never carried the level of optimism it does on Vigilance Perennial.
Much like Panopticon’s Autumn Eternal
, it’s an album packed with simply victorious guitar leads, and -- much like that album -- it meshes its brighter tones into the heavier sections with a sense of ease. “Arrow & Kiln" doesn’t waste a fraction of a second before pummeling you with its velocity of mountainous riffs and beastly drumming. Though it starts out like a fairly typical black metal track, it ends up shifting gears into a boundless intertwining of genres and styles. There are some thick, ominous bass guitars sections and shimmering guitars that lead into a glorious solo towards the song’s tail end. Simply put, “Arrow & Kiln” has it all.
Falls of Rauros have come a long way from their humble beginnings of Hail Wind and Hewn Oak
nearly a decade ago, but one thing has remained completely unshaken: the band’s love for nature. Across their body of work, an appreciation for the great outdoors has always been an influence in their music, and it feels that influence has come full circle on the band’s fourth LP. Whether it’s the poignant acoustic guitars that mirror a wet autumn day in “Warm Quiet Centuries of Rain”, or the imitation of nature’s powerful wrath on “Impermanence Streakt Through Marble”, there’s no escaping the sense you’re in the confines of a mountainous and vast forest. When the band is feeling overwhelmed by the natural beauty surrounding them, you can bet your ass you’re gonna feel it too.
Amongst countless bands that play a similar style of music, Falls of Rauros manage to remain sounding fresh with their potent mixture of black metal, post-rock, and nature-inspired folk. For fans of the genre, it’s hard to find anything inherently wrong with Vigilance Perennial.
The album does exactly what it sets out to do, and it doesn’t waste any of our valuable time in the process. Every song ends not a second too early or late, and every note is filled with deep meaning and resonance. From the moment “White Granite” opens with the band’s tasteful and unique guitar-work, it often feels like they’re playing in slow motion, allowing the listener to appreciate every solitary moment as the album unfolds. Few bands could dream of crafting an album as stunning and richly textured as Falls of Rauros have here. There are moments of ruthless heaviness, but none of them feel like they’re there just for the sake of being loud or making an impression – but rather carefully placed amidst the calmer peaks and valleys of the band’s masterful creation. A decade in, Falls of Rauros have finally unleashed all the promise they’ve harbored into the towering high point of their career– and man, what a beautiful thing it is to witness.