Saor is an atmospheric celtic metal project. Founded by Andy Marshall in 2012, the project is slowly gaining many fans in the pagan metal scene. After the successful release “Aura” in 2014, Saor is back with the third full-length record “Guardians”. The album’s main inspiration comes from nature as well as traditional Scottish poems. For the record, Mr. Marshall has worked with a few musicians, who have added their own style and character.
Atmospheric but dynamic… “Guardians” captivates the listener slowly but steadily. Now depending on whether you are into the more ‘atmospheric’ side of pagan metal or not, you will either fall in love with the record at the first spin or it might take some time for you to feel and experience every element and emotion. Since I consider myself a ‘new’ fan of this project, it took me a few spins to truly enjoy the dark, calm and melancholic atmosphere. This aspect surprised me in the beginning but this is the character of Saor and something that Mr. Marshall and his colleagues managed to do really well! One thing the listeners who are not familiar with Saor, will realize that the songs are quite long; be patient and listen to the record from the beginning to the end. In this way, you can truly enjoy it.
Sound-wise, this might be a fine folk/pagan metal record but we hear a variety of elements from different genres so the more you listen to the album, the more you will notice some influences from doom or even post/black metal. The essence and the true character lies in the perfect harmony of doom-y vocals/clean choirs and the variety of instruments that have been played by different musicians. While the vocals deliver us a romantic/melancholic atmosphere in the record, the folk instruments show us the fierce and the dynamic side of the sound. The only aspect I found a bit weak was the drumming as I think it could have been a lot more versatile, which could have made the sound even a bit more progressive. Nevertheless, this is more or less compensated with the other highlights in the record. The highlight for me is definitely the use of vocals as they are not the typical pagan/folk metal vocals that we are used but they have this doom-y approach, which makes “Guardians” even darker and more melancholic.
“Guardians” is definitely recommended to the lovers of pagan/folk metal genre but also to anyone who is a fan of the Scottish landscape; listen to the record and be prepared to be taken away to the highlands and to breathe in the Scottish air. One of the bests of 2016!
Andy Marshall – composition, vocals, all instruments, lyrics
Bryan Hamilton (CNOC AN TURSA) – drums
John Becker (AUSTARAS) – strings
Meri Tadic (IRIJ, ex-ELUVEITIE) – fiddle on #1 and #4
Reni McDonald Hill – bodhrán on #2
Kevin Murphy – highland bagpipes
02. The Declaration
03. Autumn Rain
05. Tears of a Nation