Falls of Rauros [USA]
The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood
Folk metal is a hit-or-miss genre for me. While most folk metal bands that have incorporated melodic death metal influences in them have largely been personally enjoyable, bands and albums with a pure folk metal sound such as Skyclad or Korpiklaani have never attracted me at all. Falls of Rauros is one that has fused elements of both black metal and folk metal together and The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood is the result, a 45-minute epic journey.
Having an album artwork that resembles that of bands like Shroud of Despondency has certainly helped to pique my interest in the music, being a fan of the aforementioned band, and once the album starts playing, it is comforting that Falls of Rauros does not disappoint. Right from the opening track Earth’s Old Timid Grace, the prominence and importance of acoustic instruments such as the acoustic guitars in the music as per many folk metal bands, is evident. The chords played on the acoustic guitars, accompanied by the slow pace of the drums and the eventual introduction of a melodic lead electric guitar line with a warm tone, provides for a soothing introduction to Falls of Rauros.
With one final strum on the electric guitar, the listener is introduced to Banished, a 11 minute track that displays yet another of the many faces of the band shown thus far. The repetitive riffs played by the instrumental section provides the foundation on which the songs on The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood are written on, as the vocals, bleak, desolate and reeking of raw emotions, instantly reminds listeners of bands like Summoning, though Falls of Rauros tends to lean more towards the black metal side of the spectrum. Variations in the vocals are also utilised accordingly, with whispers occasionally used to emphasise the emotions that the band is trying to relate to listeners.
The fat and warm tone of the lead guitar throughout the album, along with the sad and emotional notes pulled out of the strings, while nothing fancy or showy, fit the overall ambience and atmosphere of the album. Acoustic guitars are also often utilised, at times reminding listeners of Opeth‘s acoustic outputs in their later career, such as on Awaiting the Fire or Flood that Awakes It. The bass guitars on the album also aren’t neglected, with the heavy rumbling tone, providing the dark undertones, further enhancing the experience of the songs, such as on Banished. The drums also at times display technical brilliance, despite the usual slow and relaxed pace that Falls of Rauros tends to travel at. However, mostly it feels as if the aim of the band weren’t to show off any of the individual members’ talents, but rather to have the listener experience the music as one huge melting pot without breaking down the music into individual instruments.
The band’s songwriting capabilities are also not to be undermined as most tracks on the album range in the 10 minute region, yet are capable of keeping the listener enchanted throughout. Even the interlude Nonesuch River Chant fits so well with the tracks before and after it that the entire album sounds as if it were one long track rather than 6 individual tracks, with the band going from one style to another in a smooth flow.
While the black metal influences are obvious in the music, what made The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood such a wonderful experience are the beautiful melodies that have been incorporated in the music and the seeming lack of sense of urgency in the pace of the music with an almost childlike innocence (at least in terms of melody), giving one a relaxing listening experience, a welcome change from the usual uptight and aggressive atmosphere and mood that black metal bands tend to emit.