Album Review – Paths / In Lands Thought Lost (2018)

An impending opus of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal infused with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Formed in 2013 in the city of Victoria, in the Canadian province of British Columbia, by vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Michael Taylor, Atmospheric Black Metal project Paths has evolved from its psychedelic-laced Black Metal beginnings to embrace more of a grand in scope atmosphere, more properly upholding and defining the beauty of their surroundings through the dense music they create. Hence, that evolution in the music by Paths is beyond clear with their impending third full-length album, entitled In Lands Thought Lost, a powerful and dense fusion of Scandinavian-inspired Black Metal with the bitterly cold and somber sounds of the Pacific Northwest, generating a stunning and vicious atmosphere that will beautifully embrace your soul.

Featuring an austere artwork by Sólfjall Design, as well as Austin Lunn from Panopticon as a sessions drummer (who by the way volunteered to re-record drums for the album to replace Michael’s carefully constructed synthetic drums for a more organic result), In Lands Thought Lost can be considered the most stylistically developed full-length from this crushing musical entity known as Paths, uniting melody and atmosphere in a puissant Black Metal vibe that summons your spirit back to the 90’s in each of its five distinct but thoroughly connected songs, showcasing how focused Michael was when writing this amazing album of extreme music.

In the opening track, a multi-layered and visceral creation titled Nights Tomb, a short intro explodes into brutal and atmospheric extreme music, with Michael becoming a beast with his demonic gnarls and crushing riffage while Austin makes sure the music flows demonically with his blast beats, invading your mind like a giant dark wave of sounds. Then we have To Brave The Storm, another classic and vibrant Atmospheric Black Metal extravaganza sounding and feeling more melodic and anguished than its predecessor, with Michael being flawlessly supported by the unstoppable Austin and his rhythmic beats and fills, with the song’s visceral guitar lines emanating a mesmerizing and creepy vibe from start to finish. And the song’s abrupt finish sets the stage for the melancholic Creaking Boughs, also traveling through the realms of modern Atmospheric Black Metal, with the intensity of the beats growing together with the lancinating growls by Michael, who also fires some delicate guitar solos embraced by the song’s furious ambience. Furthermore, a gentle break provides the listener some time to breathe, before the music once again bursts into blackened sounds and tones.

The following tune, entitled The Everbright Land, kicks off in full force with Austin taking the lead with his demolishing beats, while Michael makes sure his growls and gnarls are in total sync with his obscure guitar lines and background phantasmagorical keys. Moreover, his bass lines also bring thunder to the musicality in the most Black Metal of all songs, with the music remaining disturbing, harmonious and electrifying in its entirety for our total delight. And finally, ethereal sounds ignite the longest and most intricate of all songs, South Ever South, blending the introspection of Doom Metal with the band’s characteristic Atmospheric Black Metal, with its bass lines presenting a mournful tone in contrast with the enfolding sound of the keyboards. Sometimes their most Black Metal side dictates the rhythm, sometimes it’s their doom-ish and atmospheric vein that takes the lead, until desolate and Stygian sounds put a climatic end to Paths’ obscure journey.

In summary, In Lands Thought Lost is not only a top-of-the-line album of Atmospheric Black Metal highly recommended for fans of the genre, but the precision and dedication the mastermind behind Paths, the aforementioned Michael Taylor, put in the development of the album is so compelling to the point all of us fans of extreme music should start beginning him to turn Paths into a full-bodied group or at least into a live band, allowing us to admire his music in the most organic way possible, which is on stage. I have no idea if that’s ever going to happen, but we can all go “bother” Michael on the project’s official Facebook page, and of course inspire him to write more music by purchasing In Lands Thought Lost as soon as the album becomes available on the Bindrune Recordings’ BandCamp and webstore in digital format or as a red vinyl (limited to 500 copies). As a matter of fact, if you’re an admirer of Atmospheric Black Metal, I’m pretty sure you’re already well aware of that, eager to have such inspiring album on your metallic hands.

Best moments of the album: Nights Tomb and The Everbright Land.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2018 Bindrune Recordings

Track listing    
1. Nights Tomb 7:32
2. To Brave The Storm 8:40
3. Creaking Boughs 8:43
4. The Everbright Land 9:11
5. South Ever South 12:33

Band members
Michael Taylor – vocals, all instruments

Guest musician
Austin Lunn – drums (session)

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Album Review – Falls of Rauros / Vigilance Perennial (2017)

Feel embraced by the Black and Folk Metal thoroughly crafted by this American quartet, ranging from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion.

Rating4

nvp055-coverTheir name comes from one of my favorite books of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, inspired by the great falls of River Anduin beneath Nen Hithoel, where the river fell from Emyn Muil to the wetland of Nindalf. Their music, a fusion of Black and Folk Metal with several other elements from distinct genres of music, ranges from a multilayered bout of aggression to beautiful moments of music that twist with a powerful and honest emotion. I’m talking about Falls of Rauros, an extremely talented quartet hailing from the city of Portland, Maine, in the United States, who are releasing their fourth full-length album titled Vigilance Perennial, for the delight of fans of complex and atmospheric music.

Since their inception in 2005 the band has been in a constant state of evolution in their career, with their music flowing organically and increasing in intensity with each of their releases. Featuring an impactful artwork by Sólfjall Design, Vigilance Perennial offers the listener five unique compositions that not only represent the core essence of Falls of Rauros, but that will also take you on a journey of creativity and discovery together with the four members of this idiosyncratic band. If you truly open your mind to the music found in Vigilance Perennial, the entire album will probably become a constant part of your daily music playlist without a shadow of a doubt.

Smooth guitar lines by Jordan and Aaron kick off the opening track, White Granite, being gradually accompanied by Evan on bass and Ray on drums, before Jordan begins firing some hellish gnarls completing the band’s aforementioned fusion of Folk and Black Metal, in this case nicely complemented by subtle hints of Doom Metal. You’ll be travelling through serene fields and harsher landscapes with the band in this full-bodied composition, elevating your emotions and senses before the second aria of the album, Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes, continues to guide you through Falls of Rauros’ whimsical journey. Slow beats and soulful guitars dictate the rhythm in the song’s gentle beginning, but it’s after around three minutes that things get more flammable with their dark and melodic Folk Metal exploding once again, with Jordan growling in a very somber way while Evan and Ray add a lot of progressiveness and epicness to the sonority.

The instrumental piece Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains showcases two minutes of tranquil guitar lines and a pleasant atmosphere, preparing our ears and souls for the dense and multilayered composition that will certainly blast the minds of fans of the genre entitled Arrow & Kiln, where the band fires heavy and aggressive sounds from the very beginning, with Jordan sounding more menacing and demonic than before. Moreover, Ray has an amazing performance on drums with both his Black Metal blast beats and his more rhythmic and progressive beats, helping the other members to constantly alternate between calm instrumental passages and piercing folk sounds powerfully. And closing the album Falls of Rauros offer us all another extreme music extravaganza named Impermanence Streakt Through Marble, a very harmonious and exciting tune where all band members deliver top-notch Folk and Black Metal through their sharp instruments. The song gets remarkably heavy at times, especially halfway through it, with the riffs by Jordan and Aaron and the precise drumming by Ray creating a darkened ambience perfect for the harsh growls by Jordan to sound even stronger.

If you’re ready to tame the unrestrained waters of Falls of Rauros, simply go check their Facebook page for more details on their career, tour dates and future plans. And there are so many different places where you can grab your copy of Vigilance Perennial I might have missed one or two from my list, as you can buy the album at the Falls of Rauros’ BandCamp page, at the Nordvis Produktion’s BandCamp page or webstore (in CD or LP format), at the Bindrune Recordings’ webstore also in CD or LP format, as well as on iTunes or Amazon. Feel embraced by the beautiful extreme music crafted by Falls of Rauros, and let your emotions flow to the sound of their distinguished creations.

Best moments of the album: Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes and Arrow & Kiln.

Worst moments of the album: None.

Released in 2017 Bindrune Recordings/Nordvis Produktion

Track listing
1. White Granite 10:11
2. Labyrinth Unfolding Echoes 9:30
3. Warm Quiet Centuries of Rains 2:17
4. Arrow & Kiln 12:02
5. Impermanence Streakt Through Marble 10:17

Band members
Jordan – vocals, guitar
Aaron – guitar, vocals
Evan – bass
Ray – drums