Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Falls of Rauros - Believe in no coming shore

Genre : Folk black metal
Release : October 1st 2014 on Bindrune Recordings.

I'm sure this band name and album title hooked you in a second, am I right? Well, it was the same for me when I received the promo, and first of all I'd like to drop some sincere thanks to Marty and Bindrune Recordings for allowing me to review this pearl, as well as giving Ethereal Soundscapes more awesome material to speak about. Thank you! Believe in no coming shore, the 3rd full-length from mighty Falls of Rauros (Into the archaic being considered a demo) is set for release on November 1st and one track has already been released. It's called 'Ancestors of smoke', clocks for more than 10 minutes and is available for streaming right here.

After shifting to a much more professional and mature sound on their 3rd album, The light that dwells in rotten wood, Falls of Rauros released a split with Panopticon in which they kept the essence of the aforementioned release. No surprise if I tell you that Believe in no coming shore keeps exactly the same elements and production quality than those previous releases, and obviously, this is good news, as they both bright with awesomeness. It's actually impressive how the guys successfully kept the same setup in that new album. Rhythm guitars still have their somehow vintage almost rockish sound (I mean, like in 'Banished' intro on the previous album) while vocals uses exactly the same effects than they did before. Again, it's all good to know that Falls of Rauros didn't drop a bit of what made them awesome. Yet, once you dig the new album, there are a couple differences to mention. First, they moved away from some Agalloch-esque elements, such as the typical percussions on 'Silence' intro from The light that dwells in rotten wood. Comparisons are bad since Falls of Rauros really have they own identity and grew better than many of their masters, but that new album reminds me more of October falls' A collapse of faith mainly because of the riffing elements but also the nice bass mixing which makes it clear and loud at the same time. This is funny because this album is one of my favorite ever, why I think it's an honorable mention for Believe in no coming shore. 'Spectral eyes' is a good example of how riffs have been integrated, mostly towards the track's end, but the album as a whole is built around much more riffing than previous ones. Strangely enough, the only flaw I'd find in this album is the second track : 'Ancestors of shadow', which is not bad at all but a little too flat for my taste. Maybe because it's the shortest track apart from intro and outro, but I feel it takes little time to build up and play with magnificent interludes, whereas both the longest tracks, 'Ancestors of smoke' and 'Waxen voices' are incredibly rich pieces, showing once more how clever Falls of Rauros are when it comes to songwriting. They include nicely many kinds of moods on the melancholic range through different parts moving from fast paced black metal to long acoustic breaks. Also, both the instrumental tracks, 'Blue misshapen dusk' and self-titled one 'Believe in no coming shore' use catchy melodies and are great additions to the album. The second one reminds of previous full-length's outro in composition, being instrumental yet not fully acoustic either.

This album is a real success, because it's typically what everybody expected from the band after their last efforts. After some demos and a first album which didn't convince me, Falls of Rauros are now building a coherent and strong discography. Be it their musicianship, the feelings their songs carry or the maturity of their whole work, they're surely one of the best american black metal acts we've got today. Let's just hope they'll keep making such material in the future, I'm pretty sure they can't really disappoint by now.

Personal highlights : Ancestors of smoke, Waxen voices.
Links : FacebookBandcampBigcartel.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Vaiya - Remnant light

Genre : Atmospheric black metal
Release : August 8th 2014 on Natural World Records.

Hi there, it's been a while! Well, June was much work and July was much relaxing and holidays. Now I'm back in business, let me introduce you Vaiya, a side-project from Encircling sea's mastermind Rob Allen. It's not Vaiya's first release, but first ones were much more on a ritualistic mood and definitely not easy listens, although surely interesting ones. Rob hasn't created a copy of Encircling sea's recent works either, but Remnant light is surely closer to his main band in terms of musical genre, which is for that case strongly atmospheric and melancholic sludge-driven black metal.

Yet, this album doesn't rely much on folk or acoustic elements to setup its mood. It tends more towards huge sludgy walls of sound and maybe some hints of doom. Although I don't like comparing bands to each other, quite a part of Remnant light actually reminds me of The great old ones new album, be it for the mood, the guitar sound or the vocals. I think this is a positive comparison though, as Tekeli-li is a brillant record. But it's just similarities, as Vaiya depicts more melancholy and despair than nightmarish scenes. As seen above, this new release is split equally in three 13 minutes tracks. On its first half, 'Confrontation' is straightforward and bleak, and that's probably what led me to the previous comparison. Then it calms down, including a slow riff and a monotonic acoustic part while vocals switch to an half-clean whispered kind. Every track is built a similar way, but Rob successfully created its transitions in order to avoid any feeling of boredom throughout the whole listen. Also, those walls of sound are both catchy with their melodic side and stunning with the strength of the guitar effects. And considering how omnipresent they are on Remnant light, those clever rhythm guitars really make this album a success, alongside with vocals switching different singing genres but always carrying emotions as intended, somewhere between despair, rage and meditation. 'Banishment' uses more or less the same setup than 'Confrontation', with a straightforward first half and a more melancholic, calming interlude in its second half. 'Transformation', again, is a big blast on the first 8 minutes and ends in some soothing tunes, reminding more of Encircling sea's softer parts. This whole track is probably the closest one to Rob's main project, actually.

Moving out of its ritualistic roots and placing itself into a more usual sludge and black metal mixture, Vaiya created a more easy-listening album (for black metal listeners, at least). Such a genre change was unexpected and may be surprising if at least you heard the previous works, but that will surely lead the project to a wider audience. Even if not revolutionary in terms of song structure, Remnant light is a cleverly built album and deserves immediate attention inside the atmospheric black metal scene. What I mean is that this album might be quite basic in terms of songwriting, but Rob's experience in musical creation makes every single element shine and as such, the whole thing is an highly enjoyable release which definitely deserves consideration.

Personal highlight : Banishment.
Link : Bandcamp.