Sgaile
Traverse the Bealach


4.5
superb

Review

by Melodeth USER (20 Reviews)
January 22nd, 2024 | 33 replies


Release Date: 01/19/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Solitude is my god

The appreciation of nature is one of the cornerstones of metal music. The supernatural has its place too, but ask any metal enthusiast about nature and they’ll likely profess a strong love for the environment and in particular their homeland and its natural riches. This affinity with the land often extends to being at one with nature be it camping, hunting or hiking.

As a part of the fabric of the wider genre, nature themed metal has been widely covered, from Primordial to Agalloch to Nechochwen and many folk metal bands. Tony Dunn, the Scotsman behind Sgaile is one such advocate, and his resume is long and impressive, with his previous involvement with Saor and other projects Cnoc An Tursa, Falloch and now Sgaile.

Now Dunn is a Scottish Highlander and the first tribute is the name Sgaile which means "ghost" or "shade" in Gaelic, and according to Dunn himself “this was born from the fact that I didn't quite ‘fit in’ with the Scottish Black Metal scene that these bands were an integral part of”.

I was personally blown away by the first Sgaile record “Ideals & Morality” which was released in December 2021 but unfortunately missed by most metal observers. Lesson learnt and this sophomore album “Traverse the Bealach” being an early year release will likely gain more attention and justifiably so as it’s teeming with progressive metal goodness.

Dunn has again teamed up with Mike Lamb of Sojourner repute for production duties however this is the only collaboration, as all lyrics, instrumentation and vocals were composed and performed by Dunn himself which is an incredible feat upon hearing the music.

It’s not long before the beating of the toms heralds the beginning of the journey and it feels like a dawn awakening, reflecting the album art’s protagonist assessing the valley before heading off in earnest. This scene, set in the opener “Psalms To Shout At The Void” is accentuated by layers of guitars and met by Dunn’s distinctive clean vocals. Now let’s delve deeper into the vocals. I’ve read comparisons with Niege’s cleans and that’s not too far off the mark but I also get hints of 80’s alt rock, particularly Ratcat. In any case, the vocals are a big point of difference and perfectly suit the music, a melting pot of progressive rock and folk metal not unlike that proffered by Alcest and Solstafir.

Our protagonist arrives at the water for “Lamentations By The Lochan” and an exorcising exercise. The song’s driving force is a combination of all instruments but most prominently the guitars which are powerful and triumphant. The beauty of wilderness and its inhabitants is captured by the following “The Ptarmigan's Cry” which is another upbeat prog metal tune. Softer interlude passages bridge the heavier sections culminating in a riveting climax.

There’s a short gathering of thoughts before “Silence” paradoxically rumbles into view with the hiker depicting another fresh morning and a call to “just give in to the silence”. This is a personal journey of solitude as repeated thematically over the course of the 63 minutes and who am I to question the motives or meanings, as to observe is to join in spirit. “Silence” is one of the album’s highlight as it fills the cup for heaviness and melody. The clever storytelling does not wholly rely on the lyrical content, as the music is just as vivid. In saying that, the vocal harmonies repeating “when I stand on the beach looking down to the glass” hit a particular nerve.

This is Be’lakor strength progressive metal but even beyond such lofty comparisons, it is accessible to the music masses due to the clean vocals. They are very inviting and interesting and sit suitably back in the mix even though they are often layered which would have posed a challenge to get right. Credit to the full but crisp sound to this record, as it pops through any of the listening media you choose. “Entangled in the Light” is probably the most personal offering of the protagonist who grapples with events of the past and these reflections do not necessarily bring clarification, lamenting “for the tales that tell themselves must be allowed to dictate their conclusion, but I’m disillusioned nonetheless”. Which is all part of the journey I guess.



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user ratings (40)
3.8
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
Muzz79
January 22nd 2024


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Here's a song "Lamentations by the Lochan" to peek

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WCjK1mz-ksU

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


32018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeees it's here! Nicely done Muzz, very thoughtful and wholesome review. His voice really surprised me, reminded me of Amorphis circa My Kantele.



Last three tracks don't hit that strong yet but first half is amazing.

Elynna
January 22nd 2024


1432 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

All those name drops make this a must listen, will check soon

Muzz79
January 22nd 2024


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Cheers Dewi, it feels a wholesome album even though it’s a bit dark. And yeah his voice is something else. I’ll check My Kantele.

Yes Elynna do check as it’s likely an outing you’d enjoy

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 22nd 2024


32018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah man, check the whole album if you have time (Elegy). Still today it's my favorite Amorphis album. It's a weird comparison but smth in Dunn 's voice reminded me of that album, don't know why.

Muzz79
January 22nd 2024


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It's really hard to compare it with. I compared it with Ratcat which seems ridiculous ha. Maybe someone else can come up with a better comparison

Surtur
January 23rd 2024


634 Comments


The first album was so sick, looking forward to checking this out!

Dizchu
January 23rd 2024


546 Comments


Vocals are really nice, wasn't sure what to expect but they're pleasantly unusual for this kind of music.

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 23rd 2024


32018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah vocals are what set it apart for me, really like his tone.

Hawks
January 23rd 2024


86937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

Vox rule yeah. This tails off in the second half and it's a tad derivative but overall it's really damn good. Atmosphere is incredible.

Muzz79
January 23rd 2024


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Agreed the vox really elevate this. But the songcraft is there too. I'd say tracks 1 to 5 are nigh perfect and then track 6 The Brocken Spectre is a slower burn but the last minute and half rocks out - a very Be'lakor-ism. Track 7 the closer is a ballard of sorts, an emotional expression with a more classic pop feel but the guitars are still huge

Ectier
January 24th 2024


2577 Comments


Guess ill have to check this

ToSmokMuzyki
January 24th 2024


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

vox are ruining this

Hawks
January 24th 2024


86937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

The vox are literally the best thing about this album Smokster lol.

ToSmokMuzyki
January 24th 2024


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

he cant sing for shit what u on

ToSmokMuzyki
January 24th 2024


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

when u cant growl u sleep token

Muzz79
January 24th 2024


3045 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

but u dont like any clean vox in metal

ToSmokMuzyki
January 24th 2024


10579 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

what

pizzamachine
January 25th 2024


27063 Comments


Oh snap son

Dewinged
Staff Reviewer
January 25th 2024


32018 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Oh thread got Smok'd



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