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Blissful Serenity - 90%

Grumpy Cat, December 15th, 2016

Guardians is the third release from Saor and my formal introduction to the project and may I just say that it is stunningly beautiful. The mixture of celtic instrumentation in contrast to the atmospheric metal approach creates a sound that is serene and positive.

First and foremost this album is about the instrumentals and the effect they produce, the vocals are only used in short passages and rather sparingly however the deep growls that come forth are well executed even if I have no idea what he was saying. The guitar and bass take back stage against flutes and the like which paint some amazing and down right epic melodies such as the closing bit for "The Declaration". The guitar work consists primarily of long tremolo picking sections. The rest of the riffs are played when the folk melodies aren't so prominent and are generally more rhythmic in nature or they echo the melodies adding to the effect such as the end for "The Declaration" before the guitar does some screechy noodling. The melodies are beautiful and infectiously catchy finding themselves playing on loop in my head for days at a time. I wish I could say which instruments do what part but I don't have all that good of a knowledge for instruments but I'm very confident that flutes and violins play a pivotal piece of it all. The drumming is complementary and reserved, generally a lot of double pedal and cymbal work or a gallop like in "Autumn Rain", mostly only catching the ear when a good fill finds its way to front stage.

Production wise I think the album is precisely where it should be, the vocals and the drums don't distract. The tracks are well polished without being overproduced, nothing raw about them. The guitars and the traditional instruments intertwine and though the tracks are a bit lengthy they never drag or become dull, quick and rapid changes are always introduced in such a way that the release is unpredictable and never grows stagnant but also can be thoroughly absorbed and appreciated on the first listen. I'd say this is a strong contender for album of the year.