On Patterns of Mythology, Falls of Rauros created an album that used both familiarity and wonder to showcase new influences in their already established sound; namely post-metal and blues. It could be said that Patterns showed a band that was willing to step outside their comfort zone and opted to add their own flair to a genre that many consider to be saturated and somewhat dull. With Key To A Vanishing Future, Falls of Rauros have not only added more of these majestic flourishes of sonic influence, but also manage to remain firmly within their little corner of black metal.
From the onset of “Clarity,” Key To A Vanishing Future showcases a sort of renewal, beginning with a soft introduction that vaguely reminds me of post-rock and prog metal. Purists would assume these elements would turn off anyone who enjoys their black metal as atmospheric, bleak, and slow as possible. However, Falls of Rauros makes these elements blend seamlessly, giving their music this expansive, majestic feeling. The evident wonder showcased on Patterns… is on full display here, and Key… makes no compromises. While the aforementioned prog exists, they also employ what I would like to term a traditional heavy metal sound occasionally, particularly in the guitar picking. That’s right: Falls of Rauros has riffs. And, these riffs are so engaging that you can’t tear yourself away from them. This, combined with sweeping melodies and superb instrumentality, makes Key… a delight to listen to.
Despite these new influences, Falls of Rauros is still, first and foremost, a black metal band and they become incredibly dense towards the second half with fourth track “Known World Narrows.” While their black metal mainstay is still around – the track “Desert of Heart” leans into that territory with the way the music is arranged and the way the vocals are set – it’s on this track where they remind us that black metal is still the very core of their being. As the turning point of what has been a mostly atmospheric affair, with ripples of black metal here and there, “Known World Narrows” focuses more on the musicianship rather than the atmosphere itself, showcasing more of the galloping riffs and the harsher vocals. While it can be said the first half of the album builds tension, those who are patient will find that Falls of Rauros welcomes patience in spades. Their reward is closer “Poverty Hymm,” a song that stands as this album’s true culmination, where its density and instrumentality truly shows why this band is one of the greats and why they continue to stand out among the rest. Once again, it might be too early to call it, but I will not be surprised if Key To A Vanishing Future becomes a contender for AOTY. The music’s caliber and overall tonality impresses me to no end, and that is saying something.
All in all, Key To A Vanishing Future is another fantastic record from Falls of Rauros, a true successor to Patterns of Mythology. I’m intently looking forward to seeing what the band creates next, and hope to see this album on everyone’s radar this year. After all, we are seeing the evolution of modern black metal as we speak – how can you not be overjoyed by a band’s evolution?!