Falls of Rauros/Panopticon – Split (Bindrune Records)Sunday, 9th March 2014
Two of the finest atmospheric/folk/black metal projects of northeast US – Maine’s Falls of Rauros and Kentucky’s Panopticon. If you like either of these bands or the genre, you’re bound to dig their upcoming split. And yes, the name Falls of Rauros is derived from Tolkien’s “The Lord of the Rings.” Panopticon, a circular prison designed by a philosopher.
Though they contributed two songs compared to Panopticon’s four, maestros Falls of Rauros have the more impressive side of the split. The first track, “Unavailing,” begins in an elevating atmosphere, introduces a sustained stream of howling shrieks, shifts into a progressive movement of mellifluous ambience, and loops back around. Inversely, “The Purity of Isolation” bares a misty euphoria. With the addition of soft-sung verses, it’s unexpected that they’d suddenly veer into a darker grace, thence the vocals swiftly alter but the instruments temporarily remain unchanged, making a magnificent concoction – raw acoustics with raw voices. You can depend on being caught by the melodic strums of guitar after being dropped by these vaporous, bristly vocals. Then, rapturously welcome the howling to return.
Falls of Rauros may be more impressive with their virtuoso compositions, but Panopticon is more raving with a style leaning towards death metal. Panopticon/Austin Lunn’s main approach is fast-moving, hard-beating instrumentals accompanied by dark, cavernous screams. “Can you Loan me a Raven?” is his most exhilarating track – the extensive, heart-stopping, buzzing bends are phenomenal and the piece is a thriller.
It’s clear why Panopticon and Falls of Rauros put together a split regardless how distinctively different they are. For starts, it’s entirely inspired by the wilderness of Norway. That aside, the most discernable similarity between them is how they beat up their drums – pulverizing the heads in brutal hammerings and just about cracking the symbols in clashing strikes. Both have a musicality defined by consistent strumming up and down scales, drilling through riffs, battering drums, and black metal vocals, mingled with other elements. Altogether, by the balance set amid the similarities and dissimilarities of Panopticon and Falls of Rauros, it’s unreasonable to like one without also liking the other.