Musk Ox - Woodfall
Self-released
Neofolk
5 songs (65:57)
Release year: 0
Reviewed by Neill

Musk Ox is a canadian (now) 3 piece neo folk band that has released one prior album as well as having appearances on albums from Woods Of Ypres and the most recent Agalloch album. The band's first record was released in 2009, and I was very excited to hear this follow up. After adding two new members, making this a full band, I could not wait to hear the result. As it is, I am feeling a sort of "middle of the road" reaction to this album.

First off, despite having worked with metal bands, Musk Ox is very far from metal. This does not bother me what so ever, but some people may be turned away due to that fact. As far as the music, this is an entirely instrumental album, with acoustic guitar, violin and cello. The songs are very beautiful, and that is something I will most likely say quite often. The album is very beautiful. The song writing has matured from the first release, and does feel very tight and complete. The harmonies showcase some real emotion and feeling, and it's clear the time spent between albums was for the best in this regard. However, despite rich harmonies and great atmosphere, the songs do tend to feel too long. At over an hour for 5 tracks, the album is a little hard to get through in one full sitting, unless as background music. Each song feels a too repetitive and stays with the same sound for too long for it to really progress and keep the listener interested.

Also, while the band is clearly very talented, and the music is very beautiful, there does not feel like much to grab on to, and really stick in your mind. While listening to the album, I could not help but be fascinated at times by the melody, but when a song would end, and I could not remember any specific line, or passage. Its good while it's on, but lacks any lasting power in my mind. The production on the album is amazing however, and everything sounds crystal clear. Each instrument has a chance to shine, and nothing really over shadows anything else. Each member gets an equal chance to perform, and they do so very well. The song writing is very strong, and obviously well thought out, but again, lacks any real staying power once the song/album has ended. There really isn't any specific stand out track, as each one blends in to one another seamlessly, making this more of a single track broken into 5 parts, however, opener Earthrise does have some beautiful moments that seem to stand out a little more than the rest.

To me, the only real issue with the album is the length. I am no stranger to longer albums and songs, but these songs seem to be too long for what is being presented. The music itself is incredibly, yes, beautiful, but I feel if the songs were shorter, they would be more impactful to the listener (like on the most recent Agalloch record). However, the album is still very solid, and I do feel many people will be able to find some great enjoyment out of this. Again, I feel a bit middle of the road, but given the lush instrumentation and beauty this album presents, I feel it does deserve a good recommendation.

By all means, check out this record and help support the band Here.

Killing Songs :
Earthrise, Windswept
Neill quoted 70 / 100
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