Over the Falls We Go: Falls of Rauros Unveil “Memory at Night” and Talk New Album
At it for nearly 15 years, Maine's black metal gem Falls of Rauros do not flaunt their pedigree or tenure. In fact, all five of their releases, including the upcoming Patterns in Mythology, shimmer in a contemporary yet somehow timeless brilliance, not beholden to any supposed pattern in black metal, but not outright rejecting any trend either. Falls of Rauros has always just been, purveyors of extreme noise from unimaginable depths, and deliverers of something artistically authentic, without succumbing to creating music in a vacuum or simply reassembling parts from a proverbial black metal toolkit. This state of being -- and counting the wisdom from nearly two decades in the scene -- has allowed Falls of Rauros to solidify themselves as "staple black metal" without the degradation of hype-based popularity or the shallowness of empty listens by the half-interested. And with Patterns of Mythology, there should be no doubting the band's self-determination when it comes to creating some of the most moving black metal of our era.
Patterns of Mythology will hit everyone differently -- whether it's with the gleaming guitar solos, dramatic buildups, or lushly climactic blasting, Falls of Rauros color every intensity with their distinctive (and not over-aggressive) vibrancy. Call it beautiful, call it delicate, call it powerful, or just call it 100% USBM. Here's an exclusive listen to the album's closing track "Memory at Night," as well as an in-depth interview with Aaron, one of the project's founding members.
So, how’s life been since 2017’s Vigilance Perennial? Any new experiences, challenges, events, or moments which have colored your approach to Patterns in Mythology? Feel free to describe any personal context around the new album too if you’d like.
Life has been fine since the last record came out, thanks for asking. The last couple years have been rather interesting, in fact, as I spent the entirety of them living outside of Maine for the first time in my life. I’ll be moving back home again in a couple months, but this stint elsewhere has been refreshing in a way, and certainly played a hand in how Patterns in Mythology came to be. The experience of uprooting myself initially led to me feeling entirely lost, and I was forced to reevaluate just about everything in my life and either jettison or nurture each piece as I sorted through. It has certainly been a period of turmoil and upheaval, as well as growth. This distance by no means halted the band but it changed the way we operate to a degree. The last couple tours were more expensive due to additional travel demands, and our rehearsal time was greatly diminished. Everybody has had to become much more self-sufficient and self-motivated. Lucky for us nobody needs too much encouragement to get motivated in this band. Anyway, it’s been a productive couple of years; we completed two short tours and played a handful of other events, Ray and Jordan got a lot accomplished with their other projects and bands, and of course we wrote and recorded our fifth LP in a timely fashion despite a few obstacles and inconveniences. There’s nothing really shocking or impressive to say about the time we’ve spent; we live pretty quiet lives and tend to keep low to the ground. All of us have had our personal victories and setbacks but we’re not ones to overshare.
Falls of Rauros has been making music for well over a decade – is there something profound or otherwise learned from the years of experience in the black metal scene?
While we’ve always held to this philosophy, it has become ever more cemented as the years pass by: never stop listening to lots of music, ignore trends, and pursue creativity. When we formed this band, black metal was a very different thing; USBM was still hanging onto its original definition and the wider world of music journalism largely ignored metal as a whole. Since then we’ve seen a worldwide pop culture recognition of black metal, which is now a household name. Sometime between 2009 and 2012 black metal achieved stratospheric popularity among metalheads and cultural tourists alike. Now we’ve seen that mania diminish, supplanted with this current wave of old school death metal nostalgia acts. That bubble will eventually burst, kids will dissolve their OSDM bands (which replaced their black metal bands) and form new ones playing precisely whatever style becomes the dominant narrative. It’s a touch exhausting keeping up with it all. Anyhow, the takeaway here is that we try to just be ourselves, uninformed and uninfluenced by whatever else is going on in the metal world at any given moment. We didn’t fit in with the old school USBM crowd back when we formed, we never quite fit into the “Cascadian” scene when that emerged (too many solos, too little spirituality!), and I’m not sure where we belong in 2019. There’s nothing profound about that but it’s important to us nonetheless. I think in the long term we’ll be glad we stuck to our guns and did our own thing, for what it’s worth.
How did Patterns in Mythology come to be – how long was the writing/production process, and was anything different this time around?
The seeds of Patterns in Mythology were planted shortly after I moved away from home; I had some time on my hands and a lot on my mind, so I just started writing riffs and cobbling together a few ideas. This stage moved along remarkably fast; I think I wrote a large percentage of the basic riffs and melodies for the album in something like two to three weeks. I recorded some demos so I wouldn’t forget them, and then essentially abandoned them for a year or so. Once we started discussing a new record I unearthed those demos and sent them to everybody so we could begin thinking about the process, and so Jordan could familiarize himself with the riffs and write some of his own. Last summer I made a trip up to Maine and we spent about six weeks working through the material I had sent, and Jordan brought a bunch of ideas to the table, and we basically rehearsed at a feverish pace until we had a skeleton of the entire album finished. It all came together very quickly if you ignore the large gap of time between when I wrote many of the riffs and when we began working on the album proper. Between last summer and last winter we put the finishing touches on the record such as writing solos, lead guitar parts, lyrics, and synth parts. In December we made a trip to NYC to record with Colin Marston at Menegroth and by mid-January the record was essentially finished. By our standards we actually worked speedily and without any major hitches. Usually the recording and mixing process is a drawn out affair that takes us months but this time we had it all done in a matter of weeks. I think our efficiency with this record was a product of inspiration and organization, the latter of which just comes with experience; we’ve made plenty of mistakes in the past and we systematically tackled as many of those as we could this time around.
Was there a driving philosophy behind Patterns in Mythology, perhaps different than albums past? What story does the new album tell, or what message does it intend to convey?
The record is definitely not a concept album, so there is no overarching narrative or story to be told, but there are themes that thread their way throughout the record and resurface periodically. The only notable outside influence regarding the lyrics would be the Situationist thinker Raoul Vaneigem, who inspired both “Weapons of Refusal” and “Last Empty Tradition” in an indirect manner. At the time I wrote the lyrics for Patterns in Mythology I was reading “The Revolution of Everyday Life” which sent my mind in a few erratic, yet optimistic, directions which culminated in the lyrics to the two aforementioned songs. Both are lyrically aggressive and intended to inspire some sort of fighting spirit in the listener, despite acknowledging the unlikelihood of any tangible victory. The other songs on the record lack detectable optimism, however. While I don’t like to over-explain my lyrics, I’d say that the major themes found on Patterns in Mythology include critically examining mythology from past to present, understanding the patterns that persist today, and seeking to subvert them. Long-held traditions come under fire as well. Nostalgia is lambasted. The record is about striving for improvement, both personal and societal, and identifying shackles in their more clandestine forms in order to shatter them.
This is your first release with Gilead Media – does the label change signify any changes with the band in particular? Or maybe it was just a change of pace and perspective.
Our move to Gilead Media doesn’t signify any major changes within the band; as you suggest it’s more for a change of pace and perspective. This is the first record that we recorded away from home and we invested a lot more in its production than usual. We figured now would be a good time to release an album elsewhere after a long stint with Bindrune Recordings simply to shake things up and see where it takes us. I suppose Patterns in Mythology reflects a handful of small changes for the band but no dramatic ones. The line-up hasn’t changed, we still employ a deeply democratic approach to album composition, and we still sound like ourselves, we’ve just made a few tweaks and refinements this time around.
We’re premiering “Memory at Night,” the album’s closing track. Is there anything conclusionary you’d like to say about the track, the album, or the band in general? Feel free to describe the track or provide any background into its creation you’d like.
“Memory at Night” is without a doubt the most despairing track on the album. Providing closure to the album’s analyses of mythology, tradition, and human fixation on the past, “Memory at Night” questions the value of nostalgia and romanticized memory, appraising both as insidious and damaging to progress, despite all of us succumbing to them on countless occasions. The lyrics are intentionally abstruse but I think the meaning of the song is perhaps the most personal and relatable on the entire record. Like “Ancestors of Shadow” and “Ancestors of Smoke” before it (from our 2014 LP Believe in No Coming Shore), “Memory at Night” is dedicated to the late Jason Molina, one of my biggest inspirations since our very first record, and a person who clearly had a complicated relationship with the past (and with nostalgia). This was also the last song we completed for Patterns in Mythology, wrapping up the finishing touches on the spot while recording at Menegroth. Overall, I feel as though one can glean a fair representation of where we’ve come as a band by hearing this song, and I think it points toward some newly discovered strengths that we may explore in the future. That all depends on where our hearts and our heads are at when we begin writing the next one.
Patterns in Mythology releases July 19th via Gilead Media.