Saor – Origins (2022) – Review

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Saor - Origins - Album Cover

They’re like satellites that never connect to planet RMR. Bands that somehow float about our very own solar system, but more on an impossibly erratic course than the usual ellipse. It’s a bit like those comets that make no sense because nobody really understands what they do once they’re in intergalactic space.

And it is bands like Saor that buzz about our space but never quite reach the surface of our metallic abode. Our review pipe without Caledonian Metal. That’s not normal.

So finally, RMR Himself got ahold of Origins. Not because the music is so compelling, we couldn’t quite resist. But more because the name of the album intrigued us. Is it origins, similar to what Eluveitie referred to years ago? Or did Andy Marshall point to the beginnings of the band? So many questions. Also, as the RMR crew here never grabbed an earlier album, whatever you hear will be unencumbered by the woes of what was before. You’ll get it straight from the poop deck of the RMR flagship. How’s that sound?

Now, Saor here sport an Atmospheric Black Metal style with a chutzpah that should serve as a guiding beacon for bands like Sojourner. This band doesn’t go for mainstream but roars straight into its freedom-loving ice-cold wasteland with tunes ranging from folksy to harsh. And how could we really resist that, right?

Free-wheeling guitar leads ascend to heights previously pretty much unheard of to date at the RMR solo desk. And all of those wild riffs and excellent solos find sustenance not only in Black Metal but freely steal from what Melodic Death Metal did before as well. And this leads to a soundscape devoid of vocals for long stretches. One that suddenly sports subtle inclusions of archaic instruments. It also invites a pretty good flow, despite the fact that the airtime of individual tracks oscillates somewhere in between 5-8 minutes.

Now, here’s an interesting tidbit. The lead guitar often sits right atop the mix, sometimes to the detriment of Andy Marshall‘s grinding rasps. Usually one wants to see the vocals right up front, and the rest somewhere in the background. Yet here, that’s not a bad thing and this tactic never really gripes.

The whole piece pretty much seems to describe the wild and unforgiving Scottish highlands. Don’t believe me? Well, go ahead and fire up the video below for Origins – the title track. This one pretty much compounds the essence of the record. And we’ll even forgive them the clich√©-ridden band-in-the-wilderness thing. After all they bravely played through a downpour, too. Credit, where credit’s due, right?

Now, whilst the record tries hard to keep these melodies fresh and unencumbered, there’s nonetheless a sense of repetition that seeps in after a while. It’s slight and manageable but it’s undeniably there. Which made me think that the band should have gone for one of those one-track affairs instead of cutting their album into tracks. After all Marshall and his minions got the goods to call in such a stunt.

Finally though, Origins stands proud. The record may not move us to highest emotional fervors. You know, that’s when you rip off your shirt, paint your face in strange colors, and unintelligibly start yelling stuff into the wind. And that’s never a good thing, there’s lots of that up North. Instead, we found an Extreme Metal piece that gorges with soundscapes swooping high above those untamed lands it seems to depict. What’s more, many an Atmoblack or Folk Metal band could probably cut a slice or two off what this here one-man-show is able to do.

There’s nothing unnatural here. Saor created an album that’s authentic, powerful, well-crafted, and true. No overwrought shenanigans, just straight atmospherics wafting down from the bogs and plains of the Scottish North. A powerful story of Northern lands and lore decked out in extreme metal music and carnyces.

You should taste some, too.

Record Rating: 7/10 | LabelSeason of Mist | Web: Facebook (band)
Release Date: 24 June 2022

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