Bindrune’s Falls of Rauros, Obsequiae bring fury from the forests

When I get a record from Bindrune Recordings, almost without fail my first reaction is, “I wish I was listening to this in the woods.” Of course, their web site is emblazoned with the motto “Woodland Denizens … Unite,” so that feeling I get inside of me certainly is by design.

Over the past few years, the Michigan-based label has come at us with some incredibly interesting and equally dark bands such as Blood of the Black Owl, Nechochwen, Wodensthrone, Celestiial, and Forest of the Soul, and it probably takes some split appreciation of savage, primitive metal and some forest folk rock in order to embrace this brand of music. Or if you’re into the nature worshippers such as Darkthrone, very early Immortal, and sadly defunct Swedish act Bathory, or the North American bands that pay homage to the elements such as Wolves in the Throne Room and Agalloch, you might want to find out more about this label if you haven’t already.

Two new records are fresh in stores for you, and while they hold the Bindrune philosophy intact, each take things in a different direction and explore entirely separate terrains. Both are exciting albums and provide something of a change-up for metal audiences, and it’s nice that this style and attitude hasn’t become something that a hundred millions bands have jumped on and beaten into the ground. At least not yet.

Maine’s Falls of Rauros obviously latch onto Tolkien for their moniker, and they’re on their third full-length effort with “The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood,” the follow-up to 2008’s “Hail Wind and Hewn Hawk.” Listening to this record, it’s easy to envision being around a crackling fire in the middle of the woods, with owls calling behind you, and even though it would take a good bit of cords draped through the trees to accomplish this, the band’s colorful, melodic black metal being dropped over you like a drape. It would be the ideal setting.

The six cuts on this new album are rustic and folk-friendly, but they also have a majesty and power to them to please even the most finicky of black metal fans. The quartet, who take on simple first names and no surnames, are a bit of a mystery, as they’re not Internet darlings and they don’t have their photos all over every metal web site going, but that only lends credence to their desire to blend into nature. Their music is labeled “North Appalachian Heathen Black Metal,” and that’s a pretty excellent way to describe what you’ll hear on songs such as “Banished,” which is atmospheric and airy, though smeared with fury when need it needs to be; “Awaiting the Fire or Flood That Awakes It,” which has acoustic strumming behind the prevailing thunderstorm; and “Silence,” a song that is anything but that after its misleadingly quiet guitar and piano intro, and is an excellent example of emotionally charged, wholly human black metal. It’s a fantastic album for a summer walk, a quiet boat ride, or a date with your backyard fire pit, and while it may not fill you with rage, it will help you get in touch with your animalistic spirit in other ways.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy “The Light That Dwells in Rotten Wood,” go here:

Obsequiae may seem like a new band to most since their album “Suspended in the Brume of Eos” is their first official full-length, but this group is anything but a couple of rookies. The band actually has been around since 1998, when they were called Autumnal Winds, and they released a handful of demos and a compilation before they went on hiatus from 2005 to 2007. Now under their new moniker, guitarist/vocalist Blondel de Nesel and drummer/bassist/guitarist Neidhart von Reuental unleash their dark, Medieval-flavored castle metal with hands clearly grabbing pieces from late ’70s/early 80s’ power metal. It’s a pretty cool combination that I’ve found a nice setting for tackling the “Game of Thrones” books that I’m a decade and a half late in reading.

“Suspended,” which follows their well-received 2009 demo, sounds like what it might if early Iron Maiden and Emperor (minus the orchestral stuff) were sucked into some sort of wormhole and found themselves mashed together in the studio. Much of the guitar work is glorious and riveting, making it easy to envision a horse-back adventure toward the nearest tournament, and the vocals are savage and screeching, keeping the black metal aesthetic very much in the picture. One slight drawback to me is there are a few too many acoustic interludes in the 12-track count, and they sometimes feel like they’re there to bloat the running time. But really, that’s a minor quibble for me, because when they’re letting the axes fly, it’s pretty damn exciting. Opener “Altars of Moss” has solid lead lines and intricate melodies that sound like they were born for air guitar; the title track had a mid-section that just crushes you with manic thrashing and could be the one moment in a live setting where you might get your knee ligaments torn shredded; “Arrows” blows right up from the start, and it’s the most aggressive thing on this whole collection, leading headlong into “The Starlit Shore.” It’s a kick-ass record that’s more up-tempo and in your face than most Bindrune albums, but it’s nice to have them on the roster. I think you need that screaming hellion that interrupts your mental tranquility so you don’t get too soft. Obsequiae provide that like a spiked metal ball to your exposed rib cage.

For more on the band, go here:

To buy “Suspended in the Brume of Eos,” go here:

For more on the label, go here: