Interview with Falls of Rauros

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Falls of Rauros are one of those groups that can always be relied upon to release a quality black metal album. Their latest release is Vigilance Perennial, and I don’t think I’m alone here in considering it to be the band’s best album to date.

I highly recommend you get a hold of it, and then take the time to explore its blackened landscape. I caught up with Aaron from the band to delve under the surface of their latest album…

Introduce us to Falls of Rauros

We’re a blackened metal band based out of Portland, Maine. We’ve known each other since childhood and have been making music together under the Falls of Rauros moniker for over a decade. We’ll continue to do so.

What are your influences?

At this stage our influences are far-flung and eclectic so it’d be hard to present a concise list. The four of us have our own preferences but plenty of crossover. We’re all really into Emperor, Enslaved, Ulver, Satyricon, etc. The mid-90s Norwegian sound is undoubtedly an influence on us but you can include American folk artists such as John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Jack Rose, Ben Chasny and Jason Molina. I’m going to cut it off there because there’s far too much. It’s not at all limited to black metal and folk music.

Name five things you’ve listened to recently that you’d recommend

Tervahäät – Kalmonsäie
McCoy Tyner – Sahara
Grok – A Spineless Descent
Árstíðir lífsins – Heljarkviða
Fatou Seidi Ghali & Alamnou Akrouni – Les Filles de Illighadad

Tell us about your latest release, Vigilance Perennial

There’s not much to say about it, honestly. We worked hard on the record, rehearsed until we felt prepared and then made it a reality. It’s a continuation of our chosen path of expression and a stepping stone to whatever is next. We’re too closely involved with the record to know much about its place in the world at large.

Falls of Rauros Band

What’s the meaning behind the album title?

The title is more or less a stubborn refutation of the lyrical themes present on the record. The songs deal with the passage of time, and change, and coping with loss and erosion. Vigilance Perennial, as a title, is essentially creating an anchor in the turbulent waters of life that continually rush over and around us. Perennial vigilance in the face of adversity.

How were the songs on this album constructed?

We began this record entirely from scratch at our rehearsal space. We would find a thread and follow it and expand upon it. If there seemed to be nothing at the end of that thread we would either start fresh or snip it and resume work from that point. It was an entirely democratic process. Some work was of course done on our own time, but the vast majority of this record came together as a group effort, playing as a band in a room. Once we had a strong skeleton we began writing layers for those parts. Attention to detail and the integrity of the compositions took up the bulk of our time and energy with Vigilance Perennial.

What’s your favourite song on the album and why?

I doubt that any of us in the band have a favourite song on the record. We wrote it to be an LP, focusing on the length of each side and balancing elements to keep everything interesting and fluid from start to finish. It’s strange to even release “White Granite” ahead of time because I feel like the record should be listened to as a whole. Each song has its own energy but I can’t think of one that stands out among the rest.

How did the recording process go?

We recorded this record in much the same way as Believe in No Coming Shore by tracking drums, bass and two guitars straight through the record, live. We made some edits and punch-ins; we’re not machines. But most of what you’re hearing is live on those basic tracks. After that we went in and double tracked rhythm guitars, replaced clean guitar parts with a Fender combo, added acoustic guitars and percussion and solos. Synths made an appearance as well. By the end we wound up with a much more layered record than the last. Much more attention was paid to production in the studio on Vigilance, while Believe in No Coming Shore was supposed to sound like a band playing live with very few layers.

Falls of Rauros

If you had to do it all over again, would you do anything differently?

After spending so much time with a record, being there for every little step of the way, it’s easy to focus on what you would change or what you’re unsatisfied with. It’s been like that for every record we’ve made, and will continue to be that way. To an outside party this is a non-issue. That’s what matters. What’s done is done. Anything we are unhappy with we will try to correct on the next record!

How do you think Vigilance Perennial compares to Believe in No Coming Shore?

It’s the “logical” follow-up to Believe in No Coming Shore, but with some left-turns and surprises. As stated before, it’s a much more layered and detailed record. We took the experience of writing and recording Believe in No Coming Shore and altered our approach to hopefully yield several improvements. Vigilance Perennial is certainly a more challenging record to play and took more time to compose. After much personal psychological wrestling I think the four of us agree that this is our best record, but who are we to say?

How do you feel Falls of Rauros fit into the wider extreme metal scene in 2017?

We feel very at home in the Bindrune/Nordvis family, but I’m not sure how we fit into the extreme metal landscape of 2017. I think we’re a little out of touch with the current scene but with such a glut of music out there that’s hard to avoid. Anyway, we’ve been listening to underground metal since we were kids but due to the nature of our music, we often get treated like outsiders or newcomers. It’s strange. People sometimes think we come from a hardcore background which couldn’t be further from the case. We were all listening to Blind Guardian and Opeth back in 2003, not American Nightmare and Bane.

Coming from the US, how do you feel the American black metal scene relates back to the European one?

It seems like for a long time the US was focused on lo-fi and grim aesthetics largely derived from Darkthrone and the like. Judas Iscariot is a prime example of what USBM used to be. It’s inherently influenced by the old European scene but undoubtedly has grown into something else entirely. For better or worse. I really enjoy a lot of classic and modern USBM but most of my all-time favourite records are from European bands. USBM is sometimes frowned upon: there’s still an element of Eurocentricity in black metal and that’s fine, but don’t pretend you hold a claim on the genre just because you were born in Scandinavia or elsewhere in Europe. You’re probably 20 years old. You contributed in no way to the foundations of black metal.

Are there any bands, friends or otherwise, that you feel a particular kinship with?

The Bindrune/Nordvis family first and foremost. Bands and artists in Portland, Maine that we know personally. Austin from Panopticon played on The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood and has helped us in more ways than I can enumerate. There are many bands that we’re friends with or on the same wavelength with but it feels a little strange to have a list of shout-outs here. You know who you are, and we love you!

Do you have any upcoming shows of note?

We’re planning a short East Coast tour this April which will culminate in the Decibel Metal & Beer Festival in Philadelphia. Dates will surface very soon for this East Coast jaunt. Outside of that we have no immediate touring plans. We never tour heavily, but rest assured there will be more shows later in 2017.

Do you enjoy playing live?

We all love playing live and the travelling and companionship that goes with it. It’s great to meet people out in the world. However, I can safely say that we prefer composing and recording albums. That’s what really drives this band: the creative impulse.

What will you be up to for the rest of 2017?

It’s tough to say! Playing some shows, a small tour or two. Perhaps we’ll begin tinkering with ideas for our next record. Right now we’re recharging our batteries and we’ll see what follows. The future is wide open.

Any final words?

Thanks for the interview. Hope you’re well.

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