Falls of Rauros
Key to a Vanishing Future

I’ve been a big fan of Maine’s Falls of Rauros for a while now with the band’s last 2 efforts, 2017s Vigilance Perennial and 2019s Patterns in Mythology making my year-end lists, with the former being in my top three for 2017. So it kind of pains me to say that that trend might end with the band’s 6th album, Key to a Vanishing Future.

I’m not sure what changed- the lineup has remained the same for the band’s entire discography, Colin Marston returns for the mix/master, though here, that is one of the things that sort of hit me wrong. So I can’t quite put my finger on anything truly impactful. Now, the songwriting, upon the initial listen, definitely seems more proggy and less purely, organic, atmospheric, and contemplative black metal, with tangible, choppier hues of Extol or even Opeth, rather than the band’s early, heavy-handed Agalloch influence. And certainly, there are a few moments of those pitch-perfect, 6/8, shrill, melodic, yet despondent tippy-tappy blast beats that the band absolutely perfected on the last two efforts, but they seem less prevalent between the more wandering, patient textures, and expansive ebbs and peaks.

Marston’s knob-twiddling also seems a bit ‘off’ here as well, with the mix just not sitting well with me- it’s lavish and lush, but the more prominent bass and clean, almost pure prog metal tones don’t seem as warm, organic and welcoming as before.

Just go to the opener “Clarity” and I’ll think you’ll get a quick sense of the entire album’s pacing and delivery as it starts with a definite, more jarring Extol vibe that’s isn’t what I was expecting, but in the same song, they have one of the album’s better, enthralling black metal tremolo picked melodies to die for about 5:50 in, and it’s what made the last two albums so good, there just isn’t as many of them on Key to a Vanishing Future. The same can be sort of said for the second number “Desert of Heart”, where the lovely, warm mid-paced shimmery riff about 2, 3 and 6 minutes in, is cut off too quickly, and the song just sort of meanders for the rest of its duration instead of using those gorgeous moments as the focal point of the song.

“Survival Poem” gets to the good riff early on, and has a warm throb for the rest of the song, then the discordant tangent a minute and a half into “Known World Narrows” almost ruins the song before one of the album’s better, shrill melodic riffs, saves the song, and highlights how good these guys are when they lock into one of those moments. This is also shown in closer “Poverty Hymn”, arguably the album’s best track that imbues past efforts in a better light, with a despondent canter and moving midsection that hits all the right notes as the last two albums did.

I’ve always thought these guys, Alda and former Bindrune labelmates Obsequiae were cut from the same cloth and whose recent albums ranked very high on my respective year-end lists. And while this is a good album, and it certainly might grow on me, but with Key to a Vanishing Future, there’s a little disappointment after the last two efforts, and Falls of Rauros have dropped a little below both as far as most recent efforts, and certainly, Alda‘s 2021 album, A Distant Fire, blows this away. But it has its moments, and those alone are worth the listen if you can wade through the introspective, staggering filler.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
April 27th, 2022


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