Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Arsaidh - Roots

Darker Than Black Records 2013
1.Roots 2.Carved In Stone 3.Saorsa 4.A Highland Lament
Greeted by thundery rain initially; a tense and foreboding atmosphere gradually gathers pace and when the guitars open up, the haunting and chilling atmosphere increases even further, building the momentum and tension perfectly for opening track ‘Roots’. Tribal like drum patterns solidify the backbone of the song as harmonies wash over the main rhythm guitars. Even more sorrowful atmosphere envelops the listener as more harmonies are layered; the basic pattern to the song not changing for the first six minutes, bearing in mind this opener is over sixteen minutes long. The song breaks into a short, acoustic guitar section before blasting unmercifully in with a hail of black metal inspired and influenced extreme metal. The atmospheres built up in the first quarter of the song are continued perfectly as the more aggressive style is used. Being an ‘Atmospheric Celtic Metal Band’ the Celtic side to the music is very prevalent throughout, through the use of whistles and other such traditional instruments, melding extremely well alongside the more black metal influenced extreme and aggressive music. The music on offer is also very very catchy as well as being unbelievably atmospheric, almost morose, but in a way that makes you want to travel the bleak and sorrow filled musical journey the band are taking time and time again. Amazing probably best describes this monstrous first track. There’s not going to be any let up in the second track ‘Carved In Stone’ as this is another heavyweight, being thirteen and a half minutes in length. Beginning in a similar fashion to the opener, repetitive tribal like drum patterns accompany the atmospheric chanting vocals and harsh guitar work, another blend of Celtic and black metal that completely draws the listener into the bands sorrow filled world. Try to image a blend of Winterfylleth and Northern Oak and you might be somewhere near the band’s sound, but that’s just a very lose comparison, the band offer up so much more in their own right. Keyboards are introduced at around the half way mark and add yet another atmospheric dimension to their music. The guitar harmonies used are utterly captivating and enthralling and yet again, are amazingly catchy – absolutely brilliant, there’s not a lot more to be said, because that’s exactly what it is! Although the tracks are very long, there is so much on offer and listening to it, you’re never going to lose concentration or wander off in your own thoughts, this music will keep you thoroughly engaged.
‘Saorsa’ breaks from the monstrous time lengths used and being a mere 2:17m long acts as more of an interlude than a track proper. Chilling wind samples are accompanied by eerie and echo drenched pipes, almost acting as a lament to fallen comrades, such are the emotions stirred. Closing this debut e.p, and the longest track of all (17:33) is ‘A Highland Lament’ which follows on seamlessly from the previous short interlude. Yet again, the tension and atmosphere is built up slowly, extremely slowly and repetitively before blasting in dramatically with the harsh ‘roared’ (growled) vocals and black metal influenced riffs. There is an overtly mournful and sorrow-filled tension to this closing track. It really sounds and feels like the band are mourning the loss of relatives, or comrades fallen in battle. Traditional pipes are put to use effectively over the faster, blasting black metal influenced sections and the two work together very well indeed, two different instruments both producing atmospheres at the opposites ends of the musical scale but when brought together sounding like they should have never been apart. The song then breaks off into a melodic interlude as acoustic guitars and what sounds likes violins take over in another grief stricken dirge, almost marking the halfway point of the song. We then return to the atmosphere drenched, black metal influenced music which builds and builds before once again blasting harshly to end the song brilliantly. Since recording this debut e.p. the band has changed their name to SOAR, not that the name change will affect them musically of course, good songwriters are good song writers no matter what guise they go under. I am in absolute awe of this release, such is its impact. For a debut release it is nothing short of fantastic. The extremely long songs are noting to shy away from as each track is packed full of interesting moods and atmospheres. The use of traditional Scottish instruments mixed with the harsher black metal influenced music stands out at something exceptional, wholly original and massively catchy. As mentioned earlier in the review, the music is “absolutely brilliant” and that description stands firm having listened to the release in its entirety. Atmospheric Celtic metal with a big black metal influence, this is yet another stand out release for 2013 so far and comes as highly recommended as it gets and not having this cd in your collection means you are missing out on something truly special!
9.5 out of 10
Band Page: Here
Buy It: Here

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