There’s a moment about a minute into “White Granite,” the opening track on Portland, Maine-based Falls of Rauros’s fourth full-length Vigilance Perennial, where the guitar sounds straight out Rod Stewart’s “Tonight’s the Night.” And that’s why Falls of Rauros is probably my favorite band – there’s an adventurousness in their music that one doesn’t often hear in black/folk metal. In fact, with all due apologies to Metal Archives, black/folk might not even be the right tag for them anymore. Starting with their last album, 2014’s brilliant Believe in No Coming Shore (which ended up taking my Album of the Year honors), they started moving away from the more Agalloch-inspired sound of their first couple of records and a 70’s rock influence started becoming more prevalent, incluing some honest-to-goodness guitar solos. They’ve pushed even further in that direction on Vigilance Perennial, and the results are positively stunning. I’ll be honest – I loved their last record so much that I was really worried this album was going to be a letdown. I needn’t have been; in fact, I think they actually topped themselves.
I think what I appreciate the most about Vigilance Perennial is that the band is clearly playing to their strengths, but they also progress in terms of their overall sound. On the whole, they sound a lot more confident on this record, and as a result, they stretch out and take more chances in terms of the songwriting. They also experiment a bit more in terms of the guitar tones, adding new textures to the songs. The beautiful, mellow intro to “White Granite” is a perfect example, but it’s only one of many. Even when the distortion and harsh black metal vocals finally kick in, there music still sounds warm and inviting.
I could do a track-by-track breakdown of the rest of the album, but I’d likely just end up repeating myself as I struggle to find synonyms for “gorgeous.” Each cut perfectly builds off the previous one, culminating with the breathtaking, expansive duo “Arrow & Kiln” and “Impermanence Streakt Through Marble,” which are easily the best 24 minutes of music I’ve heard thus far this year, and I’ll be amazed if anything else that drops this year coming anywhere close to besting it. Put it in the books: this one’s 2017’s Album of the Year.
Vigilance Perennial will be available on March 31 via Bindrune Recordings.