FALLS OF RAUROS "And Ever Shall There Be" 

By: Lord Randall

Maine’s FALLS OF RAUROS play black metal. Maine’s FALLS OF RAUROS play folk metal. For those of you looking for grim, Satanic/Luciferian/Orthodox anti-hymnody, or if you just really, really…no, really can’t get enough KORPIKLAANI in your life, look deeper. In that “deeper” is where you’ll find this quartet of woodland wanderers, playing music as much part of the landscape that surrounds them as they themselves. Lord Randall sits down with Aaron Charles to discuss the reissues of Hail Wind And Hewn Oak and The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood

Wormwood Chronicles: Hail Wind And Hewn Oak and The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood were released in 2008 and 2011 respectively. Why the reissue treatment so relatively soon? 

Aaron Charles: I don't think we've had copies of The Light That Dwells In Rotten Wood in our hands since sometime in 2012, and for Hail Wind And Hewn Oak it's been even longer. The latter album came out on Canada's Morbid Winter Records but we wanted to put it back in print with the two labels we're currently working with, namely Bindrune and Nordvis.

WC: It’s been roughly 2 years since the 3rd, Believe In No Coming Shore. In some cases reissues of earlier material will herald either a new label or an upcoming release. Is this what’s happening here, or mainly a chance for those who missed out the first time to experience the albums? 

AC: I could safely say "all of the above." We've also strengthened our bond and working relationship with Sweden's Nordvis (who released Believe In No Coming Shore in Europe) and these reissues will be the first time the two albums have been available in Europe without paying exorbitant shipping rates. Bindrune is taking care of getting these back in print stateside. Heralding an upcoming release? Well, that applies as well.

WC: You waited 3 years between the Window Of The Eye demo in 2005 and HWAHO. Of course some of the tunes from the 3 demos landed on the first album, along with a few newer pieces. These days, do you see demos as fully realized entities, or blueprints, hypothetical maps of a journey that ends with an album?

AC: These days what a label like Nuclear Blast would treat as a demo can pass as an official release, or an "album" so to speak. This seems especially common among black metal labels like the Rhinocervs collective and the Crepúsculo Negro artists. When I listen to any of those Rhinocervs demos, I'm not sitting there thinking "this is an impressive demo which will hopefully lead to a more polished version down the road" or "this is pretty great, some established and professional label is sure to take notice!" Those demos are fully realized on a musical and aesthetic level, it's simply DIY. For us anyway, our early demos were a method for developing our sound and are treated more like blueprints, or a nascent form of the band. There were only two of us involved on the first demo, and we quickly wrote and recorded the songs one by one, and then printed up some CD-Rs and spray painted them. We sent a few in the mail to some small labels. We operate differently these days. A little more care goes into it.

WC: Where was your sonic inspiration back at the start? What bands inspired you to create FOR? How have you seen your sonic and lyrical inspiration change over time, or have things remained largely consistent? 

AC: I distinctly remember driving with Ray through our home town back when we must have been around 17 listening to TENHI, and at some point listening to a song by Summoning. We unloaded the car, set up some sort of rudimentary recording environment and improvised, in layers, the entirety of ‘Contemplation Of The Forgotten’ from our first demo. That's where we were coming from sonically, at least if you want to pin it down to that formative moment. At that age I was listening to a ton of underground raw black metal, bands like SAPTHURAN, that first Prevalent Resistance album, Tenebrae In Perpetuum. Just digging as deep as I could.
Today, between the four of us, there's a much wider range of musical inspiration and influence but we try to keep it from showing itself too ostentatiously in our music. American Primitive style guitarists like John Fahey, Robbie Basho, Jack Rose, and Sandy Bull to songwriters like Will Oldham, Jason Molina, Bill Callahan, Joanna Newsom, and Phil Elverum. Lots of jazz; and classical for some of us. Much of the Dischord roster. Accounting for four people is difficult. It's just too broad to paint a good picture without sounding like an asshole, so I'm done. We all have our own tastes in the band, and those preferences are always evolving.

WC: The reissues come with updated artwork from N. Burns, matching the recently-released vinyl. Was this something you’d wanted to do, and does the updated artwork blend more with what you originally envisioned for the albums’ presentation?

AC: We toyed with the idea of using the original CD art for the HWAHO reissue but frankly didn't keep track of everything we needed to do it properly. 7 or 8 years have passed and I've had more than one hard drive fail on me in those years. The new art by Nate Burns is wonderful and we figured it makes sense to have both of the currently available formats maintain that visual consistency. The original layout suits the album very well for where we were at the time. It features photos we shot from around our home town. The new art and layout represents more honestly where we are today as well the people we've come to know and have been working with in recent years.

WC: The sound itself is the most noticeable difference, especially on the debut. Was HWAHO mastered at all before this? What would you say to someone who had grown to love the original sonic landscape – imperfect as it may have been – and doesn’t feel it should be tampered with? It’s your art, of course, so your satisfaction of its realization is of utmost significance. Still, I remember Lemmy’s opinion of reissues, which was basically “If it was good enough the first time, why mess with it?”

AC: Those recordings were sent to Morbid Winter Records and I don't believe any mastering took place after it was out of our hands. For that reason we have absolutely no qualms about mastering [the album] for these reissues. It needed it. It deserved it. It was simply mastered as it should have been in the first place. One can hardly claim that the reissue sounds "too polished" or "over produced." It's still a home-recorded, very raw album. 

WC: “Subdued” and “relaxing” as descriptors are normally about as far removed from the world of metal as the word “extreme” is the realm of folk music. In 2016, have we gotten beyond using words to describe music? Do we need to? 

AC: Well, music journalism, as well as any day-to-day chat with your friends about music is likely going to involve references to a genre, or a scene, label, region, etc. The same goes with comparisons to other bands or attributing whatever adjective can be conceived to explain the feeling or sensation a piece of music gives you. That's acceptable and I suppose inevitable. We are very language oriented. People love to talk, participate in social media, read newspapers, magazines and books. The most popular music in the world is going to have lyrics and a vocalist. It's quite obviously one of the primary tools with which people connect to the world around them. Do we need words to describe music? Not necessarily. There are a multitude of musicians I have listened to and felt a deep connection to without having had to read about beforehand to really "get." It can be almost entirely personal. But in the social world I don't see why descriptors should altogether be avoided. Years ago someone could've asked me if I was into the band LUNGFISH and I would have said "LUNGFISH? Never heard of them," and felt no inclination to remedy that. If that someone mentioned that they were a strange, uniquely haunting and creative band on Dischord I would absolutely have made a point of checking it out.

WC: Do you think FALLS OF RAUROS would be the same band, produce the same music were it based in, say, Nevada? Germany? How does the landscape (and your surroundings) factor into FoR?

AC: The landscapes and climate of Maine, and the relatively low population density, have had a major impact on the music we make, as well as the way we've developed as musicians and people over the years. We live within a few minutes from the Atlantic Ocean. We live in a city that is more commonly described as a town by most city dwellers' standards. One of us goes on a trip, or we go out on tour for a week, and we come home to a place much closer to our hearts than any we had just passed through. 

WC: What’s next for FOR? Also, during these cluttered musical times, what do you hope to provide to the open-minded listener with the band? Does the listener even matter when it comes to the journey of you following your personal path/muse? 

AC: I think all of us aim to challenge ourselves as composers, arrangers and songwriters first, and then as musicians and performers, and audience reception comes into play after that. We try to push forward and develop as a band. We don't want to stagnate or repeat ourselves, or to sound too much like a handful of other bands out there. Nonetheless, we hope to occasionally connect on a intangible emotional level with a few people in the world because we've all had those experiences growing up where an album or a band feels like so much more than just an album or a band to you. That overwhelming feeling becomes harder and harder to find as you grow older but it can still be found, and I'm sure we all remember it from our adolescent and teenage years. Being able to connect in that way to a listener is extremely important and makes creating music worthwhile for us. What's next? There's a new album on the way. We're working on it now. I can't comfortably describe how it will turn out, or what it will sound like, but it won't be quite like our previous records, and it won't be quite like whatever record follows it. That's just how we've come to be.