The Portland quartet return with a Black Metal benchmark that brings the light.
American Black Metal has been on the rise now for several years in both quantity and quality, a phenomenon that leaves sites such as ours grateful for such a privileged position as being the first among many to sample and appreciate the amount of unfiltered talent and dedication that slides across our proverbial desks on a daily basis. It also can lead to an over-saturation of content, which tragically is possible. That burnout from the grind evaporates like seafoam misting a summer-scorched highway the second a name like FALLS OF RAUROS appears within line of sight.
Anyone familiar with these boys from the far Northeast know they come out swinging. Since 2008's Hail Wind and Hewn Oak, the handful of albums we have received have been an unstoppable force that has dragged them from their corner of Maine to Cascadia, the Midwest, and beyond as they've gained a meteoric rise in fame from each new stellar release in their catalogue. Today, the pleasure falls upon us to review their latest offering, a neat little package lovingly titled Patterns in Mythology, and there's just no way to not warn listeners ahead of time: it's a beast of creation.
People familiar with Vigilance Perennial are going to be confounded, and pleasantly surprised by this twist of fate the boys have brought. Two and a half minutes to muster your courage for the ride, Détournement is an uplifting, high-spirited animal that makes it clear to everyone up front — spiritual experiences lie ahead.
Weapons of Refusal is a dramatically woven composition that sings to the positive energy that is a constant focus throughout this entire album. Passages reminiscent of Agalloch's The Mantle make their way into the cracks as a high pitch tremolo eerily transcends the normal score to settle on a plane of existence far beyond the normal ranges of their usual sound. It's a turn for the better that this reviewer sincerely hopes they decide to continue with. FALLS OF RAUROS has always been a hybrid of both chaotic and melancholic sounds, but such a beautiful creature almost feels impossible to duplicate. This song features a breathtaking interlude at the five-minute marker, featuring an acoustic guitar segment with the sounds of chirping crickets in the foreground that truly makes the heart beat faster at its unexpected, and unparalleled elegance.
New Inertia, the third step on this stairway to the heavens, takes the harmonic and angelic spirit of its predecessors and transforms it into an ethereal track of reverberating guitar tones, that echo as if they're being rebounded from the dark recesses of a cave beneath the surface of crystal clear waters. Rolling, sliding drum fills somehow take hold of the listener, supporting a guitar dual tone and leaps from note to note, back and forth in a rhythmically-pleasing, wholly satisfying adventure that never seems to end, and yet, is filled with gaps that go surprisingly unnoticed as the song moves from one segment to the next. This is a new trick up their sleeve; for as long as this reviewer can recall, they've given wide berth for each of their movements from song to song, harsh to mellow, faster or slower. It was one of the constants that made it easy to remember precisely what you were attempting to find again. In all of its memorable glory, losing one's place within the waves of this album will be an enjoyable accident. The melody is a ship left to drift across an ocean of torrential storms.
Renouvellement is the divide of what fans know everywhere, but it's just a taste of the past. A single tremolo tone furiously sways in the wind as an acoustic medley takes the reins, coasting into a snare drum march that carries all the pomp and circumstance of what one could consider a hit single. It's a sad track that features a chorus of vocals taken straight out of the folk metal playbook that anyone can appreciate. The acoustics are haunting, crisp, and artfully played, the slightest licks and strums brought out by the expertly produced sound that this album carries with it from beginning to end. It's a testament to damn good studio awareness that Colin Marston brings to the table, and the boys could not have picked a better host for this musical venture.
Last Empty Tradition throws out any conventional methods of black and folk-infused music that this group has known and executed during their time on the scene. It's a bold track; the soulful guitar trills and powerfully deep bass that hum into oblivion create a glacial tune that would fit better on the most funereal doom metal releases than what we understand to be a FALLS OF RAUROS album, but it's too serenely practiced to be anyone else. There's a symmetry of sound that takes this song away in the same way it's handed to you. It's alive, kicking pedals and cracking cymbals in your ears that paint an image of waves crashing along the shore. It's a new kind of sound that this reviewer will stake a claim in coining, one that encompasses all the passion of a group hailing from Portland with the action and motion of a Currier & Ives painting. There's a distinguishable charm of what one could arguably dub ‘Maritime Metal’ in what the boys have brought to the table this year, and what a unique kind of killer it is.
Patterns in Mythology makes zero concessions for its less than orthodox approach to Blackened Folk Metal. After so many playthroughs, one muses whether or not this even qualifies on the whole as the evil menace we know as Black Metal. It's unquestioningly beautiful, taking time to not only flaunt its strengths of serenity and harmony, but also to deliberately tread on the current trends of living in an age where traditional notions, and things fans consider to be ‘TRVE’ have gone the way of the dodo. This is an indisputable achievement in the genre, and there should be no question to listeners everywhere that this will be making lists everywhere by the time December rolls around. The album embodies the finest qualities of an American Black Metal pioneer group, and one can only surmise at how high they've raised the bar now. It's the band having fun, cutting loose, being free to express themselves, and tell the stories of their own lore that fans everywhere have always desired.
FFO: Panopticon, Agalloch, Pelican, Wolves in the Throne Room, Woman is the Earth
Patterns in Mythology pulls into the harbor on July 19th, courtesy of Gilead Media. You can get your copy HERE.