Scottish band Saor are a name I have seen about although I don’t appear to have had the pleasure of hearing their two albums or catching them live. Recording wise they are helmed by Andy Marshall who has prolifically been participant in the likes of Askival and Falloch as well as various other outfits over the course of time. Now Andy has gone and decided to deviate from the more folk-laden and Celtic sound of Saor and borne life into new project Fuath which translates to ‘hatred’ in Gaelic. Naturally this sets us up for a much more misanthropic ride musically than we have with Soar and things are presented over 4 massive tracks spanning over 40 minutes of music on this his debut release.
Don’t go looking for anything traditional in the way of instrumental nuances here, there’s no hint of anything like tin whistle or Satan forbid bagpipes and as first number ‘In The halls Of The Hunter’ quickly illustrates this is all about highly atmospheric and deeply melodic fast and furious guitar work. You are, after an opening drum roll, flung straight into a hypnotic and sprawling universe where massive flurrying and windswept riffs are a constant harmonic swarm amidst some occasional vocal rasps invading from the background. Atmosphere is brought by slower moody passages and there is a sense of desolation and history about this as it looks back to bygone times in ghostly reflection before speeding up and going for the throat in a bloodlust once again. You may, unless you are a regular listener to this sort of thing find it a bit samey but the true listener will easily find themselves completely immersed by the hypnotic furrow of the music and realise that despite epic lengths there is little in the way of fat here. Everything is built upon and solidly constructed, not so much from the ground up but instantly and kept progressively flowing and enticing you by its surging velocity.
It’s all too easy to lazily mention other bands that are similar and obviously first port of call would be the Cascadian likes of Wolves In The Throne Room and their ilk although in the more downbeat parts the naturistic mood could also have you thinking of Eastern European bands such as Drudkh. The melody of second song ‘Blood’ instantly worms its way into your head, lush but not overstated as necrotic vocals emerge with a sense of regret and sorrow behind it. It hints at past and very dark times where blood has been spilled and the maudlin sense is really passionately and evocatively displayed within the framework of the music. It’s very easy to completely lose yourself in it as it takes on a Burzum like repetitive form before suddenly sprinting off again in a headlong dash through the thick dark forest. A sense of yearning, hunger and isolation pervade ‘The Oracle’ and everything is perfect in the mix as the rich atmospheres build and become more urgent and the stormy blizzard of riffs hit like an all-consuming ice storm. Again little time is wasted before you are thrust into the heaving mass and the depth and precision of it all is huge, sounding far beyond the scope of a one man outfit. The album has to be listened to as a whole, there is no quick fix to be found here and there is no standout track, it is all excellent. Naturally you will wonder if like Soar this can be built upon with additional members to be played live but then again should it be? Perhaps it works better as a highly personal vision that should be listened in isolation to get the most from it. Culminating with ‘Spirit Of The North’ the barraging whirlwind surprisingly dissolves around the half way mark into near shoegaze territories, which works fantastically well allowing you to relax within the change of pace until the violent final sprint to the end.
Marshall has as he seems to be accustomed to gone it alone once more here with some fantastic results. If you like expertly played, epic and mature black metal be prepared to lap this up at the links below. Last but not least the cover art is as breath-taking as the music within and I hope this is a project we have not heard the last from.
(8/10 Pete Woods)