Ive been awaiting this record for some time, Saor, a one man band, really impressed me with his last release "Aura", a fine record that took traditional Black Metal values to a serine, warm and heart felt setting inspired by the Scottish highlands. It was a mature, seasoned piece of music that took all the mockeries away from the extreme music and imbued it with the sombre beauty of the natural world. It ended up being one of my favorite records of the year. So Saor returns, still a one man band and unchanged in approach "Guardians" stagnates somewhat, repeating the same successes of its predecessor.
Its a noticeable step up in fidelity, richer clarity in the guitar distortion and organized space gives room for the stunning string sections and earthly bagpipes to gleam through the walls of blast beats and guitar shredding. The songs take on grandiose themes and progressions with each clocking in over ten minutes and going through many passageways, soaring high, tumbling lows and climatic peaks in their wake. A little more groove and rhythm feels present in the guitar styling than before but mostly its power chord whirling as the flutes and fiddles inflict human melodies and cultural folk roots into the heathen music.
There are times where deep guttural shouts accompany guitar focused sections and it can drift into a sleepwalk between its grandiose moments. Although aesthetically polished and stronger the music competes with its own style as some parts feel like a repeating formula. "Tears Of A Nation" tips the scales with a break at the six minute mark for a truly memorable moment as the album concludes with a timeless melody, heightened by the continual shifts in intensity that comes from the Metal instruments. Its a solid record but more of the same, which is not a bad thing given the brilliance of this project, however it doesn't surpass the benchmark of "Aura" for me.