I’ve always found it very easy to talk about the things that I like. It’s part of the reason why I got involved in writing as a creative outlet; I love discussing my passions and I usually have an easy time describing the things I enjoy. It’s rare that an album leaves me completely speechless, yet now I am faced with just such a scenario. I strive in all things to be professional, however, so I am going to give my best attempt to tell you why Falls of Rauros‘ Vigilance Perennial will very likely be one of the best albums you will hear all year.
Portland, ME’s Falls of Rauros are something of an underground institution. The band has been active for nearly a dozen years at this point, and have enjoyed a devoted following along the way for their unique take on folk-influenced black metal. Far from your average “melodic black metal but with a violin” folk metal, Falls of Rauros weave their influences with a subtler hand, taking the atmosphere and intensity of black metal and inserting elements that recall the folk music of rural America. Indeed, the wild country permeates much of what Falls of Rauros do, from the lyrics that focus on nature, primitivism, and ancestral heritage to the atmosphere of the music that recalls a forest rich with fog after a heavy rain. All these elements and more are present in spades on Vigilance Perennial, the band’s fourth full-length album, yet there is a magic here that makes this album so much more than any of its predecessors.
From the minute the opening notes of “White Granite” ring into your ears, you can’t help but be humbled by the grace displayed on these songs. Vigilance Perennial contains more than its fare share of driving black metal sections, but what makes this album for me is the moments of quiet strength that allow the band to showcase their stunning use of intertwining, lilting twin guitar melodies that add a lush feel and a unique flair to the songs. In other hands, these moments may feel self-indulgent, but Falls of Rauros know how to make everything service the greater picture. The ebb and flow of the song structures, dividing between confident black metal attack and contemplative instrumentation, and the sway of the melodies give life to these songs; Vigilance Perennial is warm and inviting where many albums that play at this kind of songwriting feel overly-calculated and sterile. There is nothing here that doesn’t belong and doesn’t do exactly what it is supposed to. Even a simple interlude track like “Warm Quiet Centuries of Rain,” something that would just be filler on any other album, is a cherished part of the experience as a whole. There’s a reason why since I got this promo months ago, there has hardly been a day that I haven’t listened to this this album.
Vigilance Perennial is a triumphant, magnificent, awe-inspiring album. Even though I managed to put into words why I loved it, there is no way I could accurately enough describe the way it makes me feel. It is a deeply affecting and utterly human work that digs into your soul and forges an honest connection with the listener in a way that few albums of late have. This is certain to be one of, if not THE best thing I, and you, will hear all year. If you don’t believe me, I urge you to listen for yourself.