As mentioned, Maine black metal band Falls of Rauros' anticipated sixth album Key To A Vanishing Future comes out this Friday (3/25) via Gilead Media (pre-order), but you won't have to wait until then to hear it. We're premiering a full stream in this post.

The band's goal from the start has been to never repeat themselves, and as such, they approached this album like no other album they've done before. The pandemic started hitting the US not long after they began writing it, and with all shows cancelled, they approached it more like a "studio album" and didn't worry as much about how songs would translate live. They also dialed back some of their usual folk influences, dialed up some of their death metal influences, and let the influence of prog/art rock bands like King Crimson, Radiohead, and Pink Floyd shine through too. The result is a gorgeous, majestic black metal album and yet another stunning entry into this band's already-rich discography.

Listen to the LP in full, and read on for our chat with the band about the album's lyrical themes, vivid artwork (designed by Panopticon's Austin Lunn), musical influences, and more...

You've said that your new album sounds nothing like your previous one. What made this one so different?

A few factors contributed to the different sound we explored on Key to a Vanishing Future. For one, we began writing the album within a couple months of the pandemic really hitting the US hard. We knew shows would be off the table for a while, so we threw ourselves into writing the album without many distractions, nor any expectations of playing the songs live. We thought of it as a “studio album” in the way we composed it. That said, the biggest factor contributing to this new sound is simply the fact that this is our sixth album; we’ve always evolved and added new elements to each record we write, but by album six we felt like it was time to step a little further outside of our comfort zone. This helped spark a lot of creativity and the ideas came quickly. There’s no telling if we’ll continue following this thread on the next record, but I think we all found it satisfying to break down some walls on this one.

Tell us a little bit about the title of the album, and how it relates to the lyrical themes.

The lyrics for each song revolve loosely around the concept of obligatory inheritance. We’re born into this world without giving consent, and we’re left to figure out how to navigate living in a world that doesn’t live up to its promise. When you’re young and everyone tells you to follow your dreams, that you can be whatever you want, that you can change the world, all of this feels entirely attainable in the naivety of early life. One generation fills the next with these ideas that are, for the majority of people, complete falsehoods. And so the keys to the future are passed from generation to generation while the future itself continues to feel more and more uncertain. The album was written and recorded in 2020, a time in which anxiety felt like the zeitgeist.

Like your previous albums, this one has very evocative album artwork. What's the story behind that painting?

The cover painting was done by our dear friend Austin Lunn of Panopticon. We sent him the album early last year after it was mixed and mastered, so he spent some time listening to it and asked what we were planning to do for the album art. Since we hadn’t figured that out yet, he enthusiastically offered to paint a cover for us. He’s collaborated with us on artwork in the past, so we knew he had good taste (obviously) and knows how to visually represent us. The cover idea grew out of colors that Austin was seeing while listening to the album, blue and white, which lent itself to a winter scene. After we landed on the title Key to a Vanishing Future the idea of a broken key in the snow was decided upon: a simple metaphorical representation of the increasingly fraught years that lie ahead.

What were some of the core musical influences on these songs?

This is a tough one to answer. I feel like our influences are so far-flung and heterogenous that they’re not easily identifiable while we’re writing. It’s a strange thing to say but the main influence was probably our previous albums; we try to stay cognizant of what we liked about our previous records, what we could improve, and what new elements would add color and excitement to these new songs. For outside influences, we let a little bit of our death metal appreciation rear its head, most notably Death and Immolation. There also wound up being more “prog” in this album, although much of this was a natural outgrowth of us wanting to push ourselves and play around with time signatures and some unexpected moments. That said, we all love King Crimson, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and the like, so detecting influence from art-rock/prog bands isn’t a stretch. Folk artists have always been a big influence on us as well, but those influences were dialed back on Key to a Vanishing Future.

You recorded the album yourself in your rehearsal space during COVID lockdown. How much of an impact did the pandemic have on the making of this LP?

The pandemic had a considerable impact on the creation of this album, for sure. Since we weren’t playing any shows, or even planning to play these songs live, we wrote with very open minds. Experimentation was indulged without concern over how these songs would be executed in a live setting. The writing came quickly and easily due to our ability to focus; what else was there to do in 2020? When it came time to record, we weren’t able to go to Queens, NY to record in-person with Colin Marston, so we were forced to self-record. Our drummer, Ray, took great pains to get a decent drum sound, and he did a great job with that. After the drums were done, we recorded bass, guitars, and synths at our practice space and in our apartments, sending the tracks to Colin to re-amp and mix at his studio. The only other thing we had to mic up ourselves were vocals and a few acoustic guitar parts. The end result is something organic, a touch raw, but still clear and powerful. Colin really did a fantastic job working with what we sent him.

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