Saor, Forgotten Paths
Saor, Forgotten Paths
John Fisher, April 9, 2019
Let’s talk about the love of nature. Last month I briefly wrote about how I was dealing with a rough stretch, and how an unexpected bout of depression crept in without warning. It mostly had to do with realizing that I needed to move on from my on-again-off-again relationship. But I happened upon a lucky few weeks during the month of March, and there was one thing that was there to coincide with the rebound. I was spending SO much time outside. My first lucky step earlier in March was to successfully install artificial turf in my backyard. I had finally given up trying to maintain a lawn when a local landscaper said it’d be a minimum of $6K to put in a sprinkler system. So instead, I went all fake for my backyard lawn for about $1500. I should have done this a long time ago. Now the dogs could run free without tracking dirt inside the house. After the fake grass was in, I turned my attention to the fringe areas of the yard and went to Lowe’s, where the guy in the garden section recommended going with rocks as another low maintenance option. After multiple DIY landscaping sessions and trips back and forth to Lowe’s, I had a backyard I was proud of again, and celebrated, mostly alone, with a few fire pits and plenty of beer. Then I did my taxes and got a pretty decent refund, so decided this was the year to also install the outdoor Crossfit rig. Little by little, my backyard was coming together, and not coincidentally, I was spending more and more time outside, and getting a ton of work done outdoors in the daytime hours from 8-5. I was able to make a few clutch Tahoe trips and lucked out on some rare March powder days all to myself too. I have always been an outdoors type, both a kid and adult who has spent a LOT of time outside without really thinking about how much it has had a positive effect on my happiness. I will probably end up dying early due to skin cancer if I had to guess, but, so be it. It will have been worth it.
For much of March, I was under the impression that I’d be reviewing my early March pick, Spielberg’s This is Not the End. I really liked the album on first listen, and it is good, but I was not fired up about it after almost a full month to the point where I wanted to write a review. I kept coming back to Saor’s Forgotten Paths, thinking it was the one I should’ve chosen. I knew To Be Gentle was the shoe-in for April, so It was now or never for Saor.
This album has only 4 songs and clocks in at just under 40 minutes. I did some surface level research and found out that Saor is basically one dude from Scotland named Andy Marshall writing all lyrics and songs, and he brings in session musicians for album recordings and live performances. The opening track launches right into melodic black metal, and keeps it up a full 6 minutes, before introducing the piano and flute for the emotive transition and lyrical repeat of “Wild cries the winter, and we walk song-haunted…” and then concludes with the flute and strings. “Monadh” picks up right away and continues to build the atmosphere with beastly precision, one critical breakdown leading into an impressive and subtle percussion section to set the mood. One time, my friend Erich talked about his love of percussion in its many forms, and I would guess he would appreciate the drumming that comes in right around the 6:30 mark of “Monadh.” Saor does an amazing job of holding back a climax until just the right moment, and “Monadh” exemplifies Andy Marshall’s tremendous songwriting and patience, without ever boring the listener. “Bron” clocks in at over 12 minutes and I like that it opens with a solid 90 seconds of atmospheric build up before ripping into heaviness. The vocals make me think of some vicious half man/half beast living in some distant mountainous cave, who only makes a rare appearance to remind us how authentic metal feels. And it feels fucking great listening to this album. I sat by the fire one night so appreciative that I found this album, so thrilled that the themes revolve around a love of nature. “Bron” climaxes right around the 8-minute mark, gifting the listener with such a memorable, heavy, earned and simultaneously pleasant transition. This is a true metal album, with phenomenal instrumentation, where the few transitions are deeply satisfying. Do yourself a favor and go out into nature by yourself and give this one a listen.