ARÐ – Untouched By Fire

ARÐ – Untouched By Fire
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8.0

  • Bands:
    ARÐ
  • Duration: 00:52:47
  • Available from: 04/26/2024
  • Label:
  • Prophecy Productions

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Northumbria still speaks, through the centuries: with an arcane, remote voice, made of memories of dusty lives like yellowed parchments, dust of battles, natural landscapes shrouded in misty mists.
He does it with the voice and sacred doom of Arð, the solitary creature of Mark Deeks (formerly of Winterfylleth), and once again gives us a wonderful Anglo-Saxon cross-section of mystical, solemn music and burning embers of history.
“Untouched By Fire” is the second chapter, once again by Prophecy Productions, of a journey born quietly and over the years gone beyond its own borders, without losing a single iota of that solid, dark epicness with monastic echoes that had characterized its debut in 2022.
However, if in “Take Up My Bones” he illustrated the story of the remains of Saint Cuthbert, between the stones of Lindsfarne Abbey and the kingdoms of Mercia, this time the English multi-instrumentalist outlines the figure of King Oswald to the sound of slowed down and imposing riffs, monastic choirs and sumptuous architecture made of violins and bagpipes (played by Robina Hully and Beverley Palin, alongside the drums of Callum Cox and the strings of Dan Capp, also author of the album’s evocative artwork), painting the narrative junctions with brushstrokes of notes wise.
We find, as already mentioned, all the characteristics that we appreciated in the debut: the ability to decline the sumptuous and introspective funeral doom of the Skepticism school with suggestions of an absorbed nature a la Empyrium (“Beset by Weapons”), the aforementioned monastic choirs, baritone, still as cathedral vaults and proud as windblown wind – in this sense “Name Bestowed”, one of the best pieces on the album in the writer’s opinion, continues to give us goosebumps even after numerous listens – and a taste for epic and blackened riffs (certainly an integral part of Deeks’ activity with the mother band).
To enrich a conscious and compact proposal, we find greater confidence in the writing phase (certainly also the result of live appearances, initially unexpected and then more and more frequent) in crafting roaring moments such as the surf on the cliffs of the area and suspended cuts in which atmospheres it is impossible not to get lost (from the initial “Cursed To Nothing But Pacience” to the final “Casket Of Dust”), as well as a taste for delicate and almost prog suggestions, modulated by looking at the work of the latest Enslaved or Borknagar and filtered by a everything tastes truly delightfully Anglo-Saxon, as can be appreciated in the slow, desolate progression of “He Saw Nine Waters”, dotted with high guitar notes and with one of those openings, towards the end of the song, which we will not forget – fortunately ! – so easily.
This shows how, in a genre that makes slowness and a certain ‘staticity’ its pillars, one can trace one’s own path in a personal way without wanting at all costs to innovate one’s sound beyond who knows what frontiers; here, on the contrary, it is in the excavation, in some ways almost philological, of the past that one finds one’s strengths, working with chisel (in composition as much as in production, once again capable of enhancing the ‘liturgical’ tones than epic or acoustic ones) to return them to listeners truly capable of shining.
We were eagerly awaiting to once again hear the voice of this North East region of Great Britain in the unique tonality that Arð has brought to today’s musical landscape, and we are truly pleased to say that our expectations were not only met, but far exceeded.
As far as we’re concerned, “Untouched By Fire” is a candidate as one of the albums of the year, and it’s certainly an album that lovers of the genre can’t help but appreciate.

“From isle or battlefield
Return unbowed
Few in the face of many”

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