Can Bardd - Devoured by the Oak
Northern Silence Productions
Atmospheric Black Metal
8 songs (57'36")
Release year: 2021
Northern Silence
Reviewed by Alex

When another MetalReviews reviewer learned I would be covering Can Bardd this week, he expressed strong confidence that the album, latest release Devoured by the Oak, would be of outstanding quality. Based on his familiarity with an earlier release and knowing what kind of music I generally review favorably, he was also pretty sure I am going to like Devoured by the Oak. Correct on both counts, and here I am sharing the knowledge and impressions with MR readers.

Devoured by the Oak takes a while to get going, as the opener Echoes of the Moss is quite deliberate. Forestry, running water, birds chirping, there is darkness in Echoes of the Moss in the form of a cello or viola, as well as piano’s ginger steps and timpani percussion in the background. Everything speaks to the nature’s awakening, including female vocalization. Une couronne de branches proves that grim trolls can inhabit this space as well, and can rise with their grunts above In Extremo-like harp. Not until 2’ in the meatiness and riffs start, and not until 3’ of the second track Devoured by the Oak becomes a full blown affair with a tortured voice of Malo Civelli, band’s mastermind, flowing organically with this blackened atmospheric music. Une couronne de branches is still full of quiet moments, full with acoustic strums and harp strings, and the first blast doesn’t arrive until midway through Une couronne de branches. The real drum playing on Can Bardd (by Dylan Watson) is a bonus and makes the sound truer and more authentic, but it isn’t the heaviness of the bottom section, but the sense of melody is what never betrays the band in their convictions. Not just folk, but both Celtic and medieval, Can Bardd is at home with both Tolkien-like fantasy and modern folk at the same time. The centerpiece title track, consisting of two parts, as well as Autumn Shore, oscillate back and forth between heavy and serene moments, the former muscular enough and the latter full of delicate arrangements, bells and whistles of all kinds. The same Celtic spirit is omnipresent and I will leave it up to the listener to decide whether Can Bardd is a blackened core with atmospheric vignettes around it, or medieval folk music with blackened arrangements. One thing is certain, Devoured by the Oak is one excellent atmospheric epic black metal release by Northern Silence, the label which is an expert in this genre. I can’t see how this can be bypassed by any self-respecting Summoning or Caladan Brood or Belenos (speaking of Celtic roots) fan.

There is a menacing shrouding aura on interlude Spleen by the Pond, and desperate creature barges in along with icy touches and orchestral tragedy in Crépuscule, but I felt more of the life affirmation on Devoured by the Oak than not, especially at the apexes of Autumn Shore or Une couronne de branches. Soft acoustic female sung folk Blomsterkransen, reminding me of Garmarna or Hyperborean (Sorgesang from their first EP Of Malice) closes the album, which lasts for close to an hour, but you don’t feel time go by. The exquisite production and attention to sound details also characterize Devoured by the Oak. If your collection is teeming with Northern Silence releases you can buy this one blindly.

Killing Songs :
Title track, Autumn Shore
Alex quoted 88 / 100
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