Being a child of Scotland, one grows up to love the rolling countryside, endless hills and mountain tops and inevitably, the inclement weather. If you’re a city person, this might end up inspiring the kind of dark, abrasive music of Dark Habits or Frontierer; all angles and sharp corners. Take a look past the grey metropolitan areas and there is beauty in the fog surrounding our Lochs and landscapes. Saor have spent the better part of the last five years channeling this into some of the most melancholic black metal around. Not afraid to use traditional instrumentation and styles, Saor’s latest offering Guardians blends the peaty smoke of the bogs with shimmering, incandescent strings and pipes. It’s one that Heavy Blog goers might have missed last year but this needs to change. 

To ascertain just what makes up the spine of the sound of Saor – post black metal with a traditional emphasis – composer Andy Marshall sat down to give us some of the artists and arrangements that gave him the inspiration to sit down and create the fantastical, decadent sounds heard on Guardians.

Windir – “Svartesmeden og Lundamyrstrollet”

Arntor is one of the best examples of how to mix black metal with traditional folk influences. It had a huge impact on me when I first heard it and it inspired me to start mixing Scottish folk sounds with metal.

Burzum – “Det Som Engang Var”

Hvis lyset tar oss is a masterpiece. A lot of the pads and ambient parts in Saor are heavily influenced by this album and Filosofem.

Drudkh –”Wind of the Night Forest”

Autumn Aurora is another great example of how to mix black metal with folk influences. I’ve always felt an affinity with Drudkh because the struggles of Ukraine remind me a lot of the struggles of Scotland.

Bathory – “The Woodwoman”

I was never really into the old school satanic themed Bathory albums but I absolutely love the later Viking/folk stuff. “The Woodwoman” is a masterclass in song writing and Blood on Ice is a classic.

Alcest – “Le Secret”

The Le Secret EP is a gem. It’s the first time I ever heard a band mix post-rock/shoegaze sounds with black metal. It reminded me of 90’s black metal bands mixed with Sigur Ros when I first heard it. I found a lot of great post-rock and shoegaze bands thanks to this EP.

Saor take their rich, atmospheric metal sounds to local and national shows in this coming month. UK citizens, find the shows for Scotland and London and make your way down to sway to the silken strings and synths. Everyone else, Guardians is available on their Bandcamp, along with their previous two releases. Plenty of Scots oats to get stuck into.

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