O.W.G.A. adds onto his prolific library of mystical black metal with this latest release under the name of Auld Ridge, and with it, is the mighty banner of The Hermetic Order of Ytene. Starting his project in the United Kingdom, he has since moved to mainland Europe, somewhere in France, to continue his ritualistic and harmonic expressions. With his latest expression, Folklore From Further Out, he’s showing his masterful skill and laying down these tracks heavy, and truly capturing some really far out there tales.
Chilling guitars and frantic blast beats greet you as a pact with Kolumkilli is made. With a classical and orchestral bent to the song writing, the added synth organs meld well with the guitars and help create this dramatic flare that harkens back to the old symphonic black metal sounds of the early 90s. On top of that, Auld Ridge is able to create their own unique blend, though, incorporating old European folk tales into the lyrics, creating this mystical yet heroic atmosphere to the whole release. While those who are a fan of that early sound might find this an appealing album, there is a heavy folk influence as mentioned before. All of the even numbered tracks are these short (at least in comparison to the metal tracks) acoustic passages conjure those images of ancient Albionic forests.
This album feels very progressive, especially on those metal tracks. Plenty of ups and downs and musical diversity packed into these long epics. I say this a lot in my reviews, how certain albums feel like they’re telling a story through the music, in this case, that is truly fact. Many of these songs spin epic tales, a great example is on the opening track A Pact with Kólumkilli. If my research proves me right, the story behind this track could be loosely related to the legend of “Kólumkilli” who was a demon who was named after, or possibly conjured, by Irish Catholic monks who lived in the valleys of Iceland. Given all this information, it’s mind boggling how he’s able to express these stories sonically in such a masterful way that I think puts others to shame.
Personally I’ve never been a big fan of symphonic black metal. I always found that it sounded a little bit too over the top. With either the organs and added strings giving the music a thick layer of camp that I think takes away from the mystique of black metal as a genre (looking at you Dimmu Borgir). What’s great about Auld Ridge on the other hand, is how, thanks to the cold and stripped back production style, they’re able to create this raw sound that I think helps capture that cold harshness that many of these tales hold within them.
All in all I’ve found this to be quite the pleasant listen. It’s catchy, and captivating, able to create such vivid imagery through the music, and the more somber and acoustic passages are some of my favorites, really capturing that dark and dreary image that many of the old European folk tales tend to carry. I’d highly suggest this to any fan of the more symphonic black metal.