The influence of Agalloch on the American black metal scene, and the American metal scene in general, simply cannot be understated. The intimate connection that so many bands feel to the earth, the soil, the trees, and the waterways of this vast expanse cannot be expressed musically without at least a mention of the Portland-based landscapers who have firmly cemented their stature among the global metal scene. On Patterns in Mythology, their fifth, Falls of Rauros are among the many-stemmed tree that Agalloch planted residing within the root system of American bands playing that very form of nature-based black metal.
Since the days of their much celebrated (and eventually reissued) The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood record, the band has spread their wings and delved deeper into the vast pool of post rock that continues to dot the music scene both inside and outside of the metal confines. Raw, acoustic interludes have been replaced by melodic passages using primarily electrified instruments, bridging the gap from black metal to the Lawrence, Kansas emo scene. Falls of Rauros now evoke emotion of their own creation rather than drawing from past influences or from already ancient forests and streams.
Clean vocals on “Renouvellement” draw the band fully into the post-rock fold as a soft marching beat plots out a course between mournful guitars and cymbal crashes. An acoustic guitar crops up playing the rhythm role to the impassioned and sentimental melody lines layered throughout. All this for “Renouvellement” which amounts to an interlude track, albeit a perfectly placed and executed one. It’s a simple enough idea: to place a nearly entirely instrumental track between two emotionally charged tracks (the one that follows being far more open and atmospheric than the one that precedes it). But to execute that vision with such clarity, and to use such minimal clean vocals, shows true touch and taste.
It follows that one of the most astounding compositional feats on Patterns in Mythology is the restraint shown by the band. As the aforementioned “Renouvellement” fades into “Last Empty Tradition” the full breadth of the guitar talent is briefly revealed. The lead lines are utterly intoxicating, belying how intricately woven and carefully balanced they appear (thanks to Colin Marston for that production). The album closes masterfully with a nine-minute track that slowly decays from a grand outro into a minimalist jangle with ambient country influences.
While Falls of Rauros were once a very successful clone of their forefathers, they have since grown primarily by drawing their influences from outside metal. By doing so they’ve intertwined a sound inherently connected to alternative rock of the 1990s with American black metal to create a sound that is blossoming into something all their own. Patterns in Mythology is American to its core–intimately connected to both the earth and the culture of American music.