Falls of Rauros/Panopticon - Split [Bindrune Recordings - 2013]
Both Falls of Rauros and Panopticon are rising stars in the American atmospheric black metal scene following their releases of The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood and Kentucky respectively. And, both being signed to Bindrune Recordings, a split between the two bands was almost inevitable.
The split begins with two tracks from Falls of Rauros. The Light that Dwells in Rotten Wood is my only previous experience with Falls of Rauros, which, while somewhat unoriginal, was a nice Cascadian/Agalloch inspired folk/atmospheric black metal experience. If you’ve heard that album the Falls of Rauros half of the split won’t surprise you at all. More of the same awaits you – folky acoustic sections (including one halfway through “Unavailing” that’s pure Agalloch) mixed with Cascadian, atmospheric black metal sections that sound more hopeful than hateful. It must be said that whoever performed the vocals (band members are not credited with roles) did an excellent job channeling anguish through his echoing shrieks. Like their previous material, what you’ll find on this split isn’t very innovative but it should do the trick if you’re a fan of Agalloch, Fen, Skagos, and the like.
“Through the Mountains I Wander This Evening” marks the beginning of the Panopticon half of the split. I actually passed on listening to Kentucky when it was released back in 2012 because it was described to me as black metal mixed with bluegrass, which, to be frank, sounds abominably bad. However, the four tracks Panopticon brings to the table for this split are straight up, second wave black metal with its own sense of identity, with none of the bluegrass of their previous releases. Harrowing, cold tremolo riffs carve out insane patterns while blast beats rip forth with unrelenting fury, along with slow, frigid atmospheric sections. The vocals are typical black metal shrieks/rasps, but the instrumental work is top notch, as is the song writing.
I’m not completely sold on the Falls of Rauros half of this split. I feel that there are a number of bands out there that do this sort of folky atmospheric black metal better than Falls of Rauros. Still, it was pleasant enough and something I’m sure I’ll revisit in the future. The Panopticon material on the other hand is pretty great. I actually enjoyed it enough to give their other material a shot. Considering they do black metal this well, there’s a chance that they could pull off a black metal/bluegrass fusion. All in all, this is an enjoyable split, with the Panopticon half being the better half of the releaseTyler L.