Freshly back from his second album under the also solitary but more overtly blackened FUATH moniker, Andy Marshall returns with Origins, and it’s here we find SAOR returning to its, erm, Roots, yet looking brightly, brilliantly forward.

Contemplative from the onset, ‘Call Of The Carnyx’ rolls in like fog across the moors, a hypnotic guitar phrasing, clan drums calling, beckoning to join, to heed the harkening. Soon enough, the fires are lit, and an energetic phrasing is held aloft by galloping rhythm, just as quickly to return to a brief gentler moment – and this is where the strength of SOAR lies these days. In lessons learnt and put to practice, but in the developing of those teachings into something that can be truly called its own.

‘The Ancient Ones’ arrives, somber keys joining a driving riff and sensibility not unlike Katatonia at some of their heavier moments post 2003’s Viva Emptiness, yet more ragged ‘n’ rough-hewn, more “of the land”, as it were. David Gilmour-ian leadwork glistens, a near death metal urgency taking control at the midpoint. Still, I’d like a bit more of a low end in a few instances of SAOR’s music, a sense of heft, and this tune is an example.

Featuring the most pummeling drumming found on a SAOR album in quite some time – and certainly within Origins – ‘Beyond The Wall’ is positively transcendent. Slashing sheets of rain in stringed form pound the crag-peaks, the town below witness to a show of rhythmic thunder and streak’ed lightning.

I refuse to go song-by-song here, because with a band like SAOR, a release such as Origins it pays to be surprised. And that five albums in the just shy of a decade of the project’s existence Marshall is still fresh with ideas bodes well for what’s to come.
Review By: Lord Randall

Season Of Mist
5 / 6