Rather than planting our flag in one fertile corner of the extreme musical universe, Decibel has always enjoyed scrambling back and forth along the continuum, from the dingiest anti-production muckfests (found in our recent Top 100 Black Metal Albums special issue) to the most gorgeous prog explorations (such as Jeff Wagner's super-mellow Cynic piece in the current April issue). This spring, black metal envelope-pushers Falls of Rauros and Panopticon join forces to release a powerful split album that hovers near the middle of that spectrum. Falls of Rauros have been on the scene for years, plying their haunted woodland/fall of mankind, naturalistic atavism, most recently with 2011's high-drama The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood. Panopticon has gradually become one of our favorite peddlers of stunningly relevant bleakness. The bands' convergence on a split gets explained in full by Falls' member Aaron, and is somewhat related to their association with the exceptional Bindrune Recordings label (also responsible for work by Blood of the Black Owl, Seidr and Celestiial). While you read his thoughts on current Falls of Rauros mobilizations, check out one track per band from the new split, and get excited. As always, these bands rule.
What have the past few years since "Light That Dwells" been like for the band members, both band and non-band activities?
The last few years have been strange and and most likely not interesting. We've played quite a few more shows than in the past but most of them have been restricted to the East Coast, and more specifically the Northeast. Ray and I visited Norway for a few weeks in the Autumn of 2011. We stayed with Austin and Bekah Lunn; seriously generous and wonderful hosts, and spent some time in Sweden and Iceland on our own as well. Ray went wandering on an extended road trip last year and we've more or less all been doing our own thing. All of us have been occupied playing music in other projects and have travelled whenever possible but for the most part you'd find us living and working in Portland, Maine.
How have these songs come about, and how did they come together on a split with Panopticon?
These 2 songs are anything but new to us. We wrote "The Purity of Isolation" in 2009/2010, although the lyrics and vocal parts didn't come together until a bit later on. The finished version was recorded in the same session as "Unavailing" in late 2011/early 2012. Everything was self-recorded at our practice space and mixed by ourselves as well; we've since been sitting on the tracks waiting for an appropriate format to release them on. As mentioned before, Ray and I spent time with Austin and Bekah in Norway, but we've also done 2 mini-tours with Seidr and are great friends with all those guys. The idea of sharing a split with Panopticon had been brewing for a long time so when both bands finally had material finished to contribute it just fell into place. Falls of Rauros and Panopticon are both now releasing music under the Bindrune label and it makes perfect sense. Not to mention Austin played drums on our last album. Anyway you cut it these songs seem like ancient history to us and represent a snapshot in a transitional period for the band.
3) Are you still working with similar themes as you have in the past, or are there new ideas you're exploring musically?
Well the themes on the split are a bit different in execution than in the past, but mostly hearken back to the same underlying ideas. In these songs I focused more heavily on self-imposed solitude, loneliness, and the positive and negative aspects associated with each. Solitude can be incredibly empowering and even revelatory but there is without a doubt a price to pay for nurturing it. That sort of loneliness-cultivation was a big part of my life in the past few years and played an essential role in writing music and avoiding the immediate requirements of living at home by inspiring aimless travelling. I guess it feels less pronounced these days but was integral to my once-salient hermetic and nomadic lust.
Are you preparing another full-length now? What does 2014 look like for Falls of Rauros?
We have a new full-length completed and in the mastering stage at the moment. It's entitled "Believe in No Coming Shore" and will be released via Bindrune this year. As someone with an intensely nonobjective point of view, the newer songs are very much unlike those on "The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood" and the tracks on the Panopticon split. We recorded a large portion of the album live in the studio, with overdubs and layers added after the fact, though somewhat sparingly. It's the first time we've been able to record drums, bass, and a couple guitars at the same time and produce a result worth keeping so it's new territory of sorts in that regard, if nothing else. 2014 will hopefully involve a tour or two of most likely small proportions, but that's as of yet undecided. More is in the works as well; hopefully it all unfolds sooner than later.