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Saor, originally known as Àrsaidh, is the one man atmospheric black/folk metal band of Andy Marshall. As Àrsaidh the project was active between 2012-2013 but Marshall decided to change the name due to problems using the accented 'A' online and digitally, though he had also come to dislike it. The debut album Roots had been released in 2013 as Àrsaidh, but later versions instead carried the project's new name, Saor. After the change the second album Aura was released in 2014.

In 2016 Saor released its third album, Guardians.

In addition to Saor, Andy Marshall has operated a number of other black metal projects such as Fuath, Askival and In Vino Veritas and was also a member of Falloch. He also played bass in the progressive metal band Concept of Time for a short period.

- Biography by adg211288, last updated October 2016.
Thanks to adg211288 for the addition

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SAOR Roots album cover 4.25 | 4 ratings
Atmospheric Black Metal 2013
SAOR Aura album cover 4.29 | 8 ratings
Atmospheric Black Metal 2014
SAOR Guardians album cover 3.38 | 7 ratings
Atmospheric Black Metal 2016
SAOR Forgotten Paths album cover 4.33 | 3 ratings
Forgotten Paths
Atmospheric Black Metal 2019

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SAOR Guardians

Album · 2016 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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As I said in my review of Saor's magnificent Aura, I'm a bit fussy about my folk-metal hybrids and it doesn't take much for me to lose interest in them. Case in point: I quite liked Saor's mashup of atmospheric black metal and Scottish folk music on Aura, but I find Guardians to be substantially less interesting than its predecessor - largely because it seems to be leaning too heavily into the "Scottish folk" angle and playing it up for the audience, spoiling for me the delicate balance of the album.

The addition of Kevin Murphy on bagpipes is symptomatic of that - they're a love-it-or-hate-it instrument at the best of times, and to be honest their inclusion seems to be an attempt to deliberately pander to people's preconceptions about Scottishness and distinctively Scottish music in a way which the previous album didn't actually do.

What you get, then, is a reasonably competent but not enormously special atmospheric black metal album that someone's thickly layered a lot of ostentatious bagpipes and other folk instrument. I just can't get into it the way I do Aura.


Album · 2014 · Atmospheric Black Metal
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Saor's sort-of second sort-of first album (Andy Marshall, the man behind this one-man project, put out the preceding Roots under the project name of Àrsaidh before changing it retrospectively to Saor) offers a really nicely judged blend of atmospheric black metal of the most epic, sweeping sort, and carefully chosen aspects of Celtic folk music.

There's lots of folk/metal blends out there, but I find that a lot of them leave me a little cold because in coming up with the mixture the projects in question don't show much judgement when it comes to what to leave out, which I think is a mistake. Trying to incorporate all the metal and folk tropes and instrumentation into a composition at once just leaves you with a mess; instead, Marshall selects his folk incorporations carefully, a whistle there, a viola there, a bodhrán drum over there, and makes sure that the folk inclusions serve rather than disrupting the atmosphere thus established.

Lyrically speaking, Marshall manages to pull off the trick of expressing pride in his homeland of Scotland and in his Celtic heritage without making it sound like he's coming anywhere near more hateful territory, which gives stealth NSBM bands who try to muddy the waters by just claiming they're singing about ancestral pride even less of an excuse. (If it's this easy to get your message across without steering into ambiguously fashy territory, then if you've ended up there it can only be because you either didn't think carefully enough or you meant to end up there in the first place.)

On the whole, Saor deserve to take their place in the current pagan pantheon of British atmospheric black metal band simply on the basis of this masterful project, and I'll be making sure to hear more of their work when I can.

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