If you read my review for Falls of Rauros‘ 2014 release, Believe in No Coming Shore, the score may have surprised you. How could someone sound so “impatient” with an album still give it a 3.5/5.0? For starters, I’m a rather impatient person, to begin with. But, if I sounded impatient in my review, it’s because Believe was a bitch to wrap my head around. Though it was different than the band’s 2011 record, The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood, it never fully disappointed or frustrated me. If anything, the acoustic passages and epic, melodic qualities of Believe sparked new life in the FoR camp. Believe in No Coming Shore may have been a surprise to me (and I may not have liked it as much as others) but I was hopeful they could make this new direction work. And, sure enough, they did.
If you don’t know who Falls of Rauros are, these Portland, Mainers mix Cascadian blackness with folky elements. They’re an Agalloch-covered canvas, splotched with Alcest and Panopticon colors. They drown you in a wave of thick tunnel shrieking and post-black tremolos and, right when the tidal wave is about to overtake the virgin shore, they slow to Primordial drum patterns that culminate into a volcanic eruption. On top of that, you can expect the band to fill the gaps with layers of bluesy licks. The kind that’ll fill your ears with the sounds of calming depression as only bourbon sippers like Adam Lunn could.
The best part of Vigilance Perennial is its smooth delivery of all the above-mentioned elements. All the while avoiding clunkiness. The band doesn’t exactly write clunky songs, but Vigilance Perennial flows a good deal better than its predecessor. Yet, it’s obvious these two albums are continuations of one another. Like a sequel to Believe, opener “White Granite” sparkles with beautiful, post-black guitars that hint at the ethereal world of Alcest. Yet, it never wanders far from that true FoR sound. “White Granite” careens through dark, chaotic valleys and over sunbathed hilltops, alternating between aggressive builds, acoustic interludes, and melodic decompressions that exhale with a deep sigh of relief. And to further compliment this atmosphere, the album’s balance and crystal-clear production are nothing short of warm and fuzzy. Though the tunnel shrieking hasn’t changed over the years, it’s mixed better than it ever has been—a detail that (even) further compliments the band’s sound.
Similar in builds, but different in acoustic ramblings, “Arrow & Kiln” and “Impermanence Streakt Through Marble” are massive ascensions into the stormy clouds above. And the former is the album’s masterpiece. It licks fire, sips on a heady brew of “upbeat,” post-black groove, smashes stone with Primordial hammers, and molds the resulting dust into magnificent temples. There’s pain, there’s sorrow, there’s aggression, and there’s a beauty characteristic of the genre. Closer “Impermanence Streakt Through Marble” shares its predecessor’s desires for clouding melodies and fitting solo work, but its insistence on being bigger and bolder makes it a stellar bookend to the record. It has a build like none other on the album and its Alcest-like atmosphere delivers a climactic conclusion to the disc.
And between it all, there’s a spectacular two-minute instrumental reminiscent of “Believe in No Coming Shore.” It settles into a Southern depression that’s both moody and comforting. It’s a beautiful interlude that splits the album down the middle without hindering the flow. A flow that works a touch better with these five tracks than it did on the six found on Believe. But, being a touch longer in length than its predecessor, this means the songs on Vigilance Perennial have some girth to them. While this doesn’t bother me, I do have to say “Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes” is kinda long and a little forgettable. And though I like “White Granite,” it could also use a bit of trimming. But, the dynamics are beautiful and the warmth of the album is folking great. Whatever score you want from the tone of this review, 3.5/5.0 is what you’re gonna get. If you liked Believe in No Coming Storm, you’re gonna love Vigilance Perennial.