Saor
Origins


3.3
great

Review

by Robert Garland STAFF
July 1st, 2022 | 54 replies


Release Date: 06/24/2022 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Predictably enjoyable, unpredictably less.

As a self-proclaimed, long-time Saor fan (and a fan of the larger atmospheric black metal niche in general) I’ve had to take a step back from just blindly worshipping the likes of Falls Of Rauros, Wolves In The Throne Room and Winterfylleth… (et al). I mean I could put my blinders back on, heap praise and call it a day, but then the music itself becomes… less. Less special, less majestic, and more of the same. What I’m trying to get at, in this very round-a-bout way, is that sometimes sticking to a shtick or the same shtick over and over again would very much be akin to beating a dead horse…probably with a stick. Andy Marshall, the man behind the Saor project for a decade now has vision, or should I say had vision, releasing a series of records that are uniquely Saor. While combinations of folksy heritage and natural motifs have run rampant from Aura or the debut under the Arsaidh moniker, Roots to the more recent Forgotten Paths, the band’s newest export does branch out from too familiar portraits.

Maybe that’s the issue here. While a jaded musical community continues to scream bloody murder for change and innovation, some acts are immune to the need to develop. Origins itself is a detachment from the grander slopes and majestic melody found on the other albums. In fact, at forty-two minutes, Origins is the most condensed, primal and transient album to be released by Marshall so far. Relying instead on combining his signature blackened heritage with a more mid-nineties wave of traditional black metal. Where Saor’s other albums spent time meandering, marinating over motifs before building ideas into lush compositional crescendo, Origins itself instead cuts to the meat and bones of riffs and blast beats. Andy Marshall swaps grandeur for immediacy, with mixed positive results.

While the recurring melody from “Call of the Carnyx” inspires a call back to the typical Saor compositional tropes, its focus is certainly that of guitars, blistering leads and direct riffing. The album’s mixing is clearly shifted away from the atmosphere of the mountains to which fans are familiar, instead offering ice and cavernous adventure at a breakneck pace. “The Ancient Ones'' is much like the opener. Prominent guitar melodies race across the breadth of the track’s run-time, spaced out by choral chants and hypnotic phrasings, but the ideas are simply displayed, not used as a foundation for something grander, something more. Burly, galloping riffs soon take over, while melodies trundle in and out the fray with varying degree. “Aurora'' relies on much of the album’s preferential treatment of nineties black metal aesthetic, but at eight and a half minutes it’s the most fleshed out of Saor’s newest compositions. Choral chants provide a direct dichotomy with Marshall’s pronounced shouts, while Celtic wind instruments dance above jugular riffs. Delicate folksy bridges allow introspection between the heavier moments, but the track’s heft fails to achieve a pronounced level of atmospheric immersion the band’s other albums are known for. It’s a shame there’s not ‘more’ here, because Origins is an enjoyable listen overall.

Despite the tweaks and changes there’s some magical moments peppered across the record. Whether it's the opener’s glorious climbing guitar solo, notes sustained into the awaiting air or the choral, group vocals sporadically peppered across Origins more direct portrait. Somehow Andy Marshall saved the best for last. The title track, which closes this forty minute dash through the mountains, is chock full of melody, pipes and grandeur. For fans looking for the spark of Aura or Guardians, it’s the title track that pays dividends. Sure, it’s a comparative summary of soundscapes, especially in regards to the albums just mentioned in comparison, but the track’s uplifting central melodies are just what the listener needs to hear in the wake of such a guitar driven, by-the-book ode to following a nineties blueprint without forgetting who you are and what you’re supposed to do. Ultimately Origins is a great record, hampered by its own inherent ability to sound direct, punchy and…generic all at the same time. Now, don’t get me wrong. Origins is an enjoyable listen, in tune with the seasons, but I'll be damned if I don’t reach for Aura or Guardians before throwing this back on.




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user ratings (78)
3.4
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 1st 2022


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

The singles on this sounded better when I didn’t know what the rest of the album would sound like.

InfernalDeity
July 1st 2022


199 Comments


That comment is depressing

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2022


4074 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good stuff Chef! I'm really digging this one though

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 2nd 2022


15301 Comments


Not a popular opinion, but this project's had diminishing returns for a bit now.

pizzamachine
July 2nd 2022


17993 Comments


Album art is cool

Panzerchrist
July 2nd 2022


639 Comments


Probably his weakest release so far. I wanted to believe the previous release was a misnomer but that no longer seems to be the case. Even worse, he's not really playing to his strengths anymore either, and it's made for his least engaging songwriting to date.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2022


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

I’d be very interested to see if the next one is a turn face. I think most of the middling disappointments for this stem from the fact we know he’s capable of so much more.

MarsKid
Contributing Reviewer
July 2nd 2022


15301 Comments


I just found the style too predictable after a while, with not enough curveballs to make it engaging. You start to figure out what the black metal parts will be, and then here comes the folk part, and it all bleeds together. The previous album had the folk parts inserted in a way that was almost too jarring to enjoy. I guess this is finally where the dam broke.

TheNotrap
Staff Reviewer
July 2nd 2022


17872 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

🔥kitchen's on fire!🔥

Demon of the Fall
July 2nd 2022


25460 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Saor on autopilot

0xME
July 2nd 2022


901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

good review, pretty much hits the nail on the head; I was really disappointed with Saor's latest lp since it ended so abruptly and was so short, the individual tracks were still good tho. This one really feels different, not bad but kind of trying to redefine his sound

0xME
July 2nd 2022


901 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

"Saor on autopilot"



see I really believe Andy wanted to try something different, but in doing so he lost what made Saor special in the first place

PortalofPerfection
July 3rd 2022


2716 Comments


It hurts how much I don't care for this. Not bad by any means but I just have no idea why there's more songs that are shorter than before. They never get a chance to build up.

There's some cool parts and some great riffs but the epicness just isn't there.

Dedes
July 3rd 2022


8933 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

yeah tbh it was joyous and -relatively- grand but it does rather feel like a slightly watered down rehash of previous material. I understand Andy Marshall is going for something more concise that leans more straightforward into trad black metal roots while still implementing major folk elements but idk, it seems like a..smaller vision he is trying to execute i suppose.

kalkwiese
July 3rd 2022


8903 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I really liked listening to this, but I am somewhat new to this band and only listened to Aura years ago. However, after my third listen I felt like a few tracks were way better than other, some not really leaving an impression

DDDeftoneDDD
July 3rd 2022


20654 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Not a huuuge fan of forgotten paths but looking fw to it, since I lately appreciate them flutes a lot

MeatWolf
July 3rd 2022


250 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Forgotten Paths was awesome, this feels uninspired at best. 6 minutes per track is not a good option either. Quality production and vocals finally though.

Gnocchi
Staff Reviewer
July 3rd 2022


17436 Comments

Album Rating: 3.3

Parts of this are definitely not fleshed out enough

DarkNoctus
July 3rd 2022


11907 Comments


"Not a popular opinion, but this project's had diminishing returns for a bit now."

correct opinion though

not bothering listening to this

pizzamachine
July 3rd 2022


17993 Comments


Diminishing returns 😱



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