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Falls of Rauros - "The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood" (CD/EP)

Falls of Rauros - "The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood" CD/EP cover image

"The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood" track listing:

1. Earth's Old Timid Grace
2. Banished
3. Awaiting the Fire or Flood that Awakes It
4. Nonesuch River Chant
5. Silence
6. The Cormorants Shiver on their Rocks

Reviewed by on August 18, 2011

"It displays a maturity and the finer elements of black pagan metal in a way that conveys despondency with an elegant subtlety."

Pagan black metal that hails from the most rural and natural settings seems to come off with the most authenticity and sublime sound. That can be said of Maine's Falls of Rauros, Appalachian black/folk metal that incorporates a quiet starkness into their music that fans of Cascadian black metal, such as Agalloch, can appreciate. Falls of Rauros has put a pristine folk metal sound into "The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood." It's a slower tempo of black metal that takes its time to convey the hues of nature and paint a picture of the harsh beauty of its surroundings, similar to the style of Winterfylleth.

The EP is shrouded in a quiet, serene pace that never gets overtaken by the caustic speed that black metal can sometimes possess. "Awaiting the Fire or Flood that Awakes It" adds plenty of harmonic guitar and acoustic segments that complement the inclusion of the black metal backdrop. Falls of Rauros ride at this leisurely gait throughout most of their songs, conveying raw emotion with subtle changes in chords and strings. "Banished" takes a stark melody and supplements it with far-off vocals that resemble a whisper or echo. The breezy bass line midway provides a nice touch to the overall effect, too.

"Nonesuch River Chant" is a foray into their quieter, more despondent acoustic sound, accompanied by a mantra of hushed chanting that betrays a nicely ominous tone. Falls of Rauros does well with these tranquil melodies, evoking a thick maudlin fog of emotion with the piano and folk guitar on "The Cormorants Shiver on their Rocks." The dark undercurrent always resurfaces with all the ambience, as in "Silence." Here, they blend black metal with a very Euro-Celtic sound that epitomizes the bleakness of the EP's overall sound.

If I had to find a point of contention with this release, it would be with the overall structure and flow of the tracks. The way the segments are integrated, as in "Earth's Old Timid Grace," tends to follow the same pattern. The segueing at times is forced and could use a bit more natural fluidity. The entire release reads like six chapters of one unifying theme with songs that pass the ten minute mark, which is a nice departure, but the components of the songs can be formulaic in their order.

Nonetheless, "The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood" is a surprisingly nice offering from Falls of Rauros. It displays a maturity and the finer elements of black pagan metal in a way that conveys despondency with an elegant subtlety.

Highs: Lush, melancholic pagan black metal

Lows: Song structure is a bit formulaic at times

Bottom line: A strong album of Appalachian black/folk metal

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)