Tom Perrett, the mastermind behind the Glaswegian, one-man Atmospheric Folk/Black Metal project, Ruadh, has returned in just thirteen short months after releasing “Sovereign” with his follow up album, “The Rock of the Clyde,” six more tracks of epic, Scottish, Atmospheric Black Metal with subtle folk elements woven within it’s very fabric, encompassing lyrical inspirations from the Iron Age in Scotland as well as exploring the history and mythology of the people of Scotland.
First impressions, it’s a beautiful album, not something you immediately expect to say about a Black Metal related release, demonstrating that as a genre Black Metal manifests with many facets, there also is a strong empowering atmosphere that emanates from it too, “The Rock of the Clyde” is a powerfully emotive listen. It’s that Folk element that really adds that emotive quality and atmosphere and it’s an element I usually shy away from but here I’m utterly drawn in. Predominantly guitar driven rather than the usual abundance of ‘widdly folk violins’ bands often use, it really adds to the sound by the way it is created and applied, skilfully offsetting and rounding off the harsher blackened elements, but not so much so that it destroys the raw blackened quality. Then there are the vocals, a stunning mix of harsh brutal raw Black Metal rasping and powerful dynamic cleans that deliver good clarity to the content of the lyrics enabling them to paint a vivid picture of times and people long gone.
Timescale wise these tracks are chunky beast too, mostly passing the eight minute mark so enough time to meander and develop like the journey through time and history this album aims to be, and succeeds at.
Delving a little deeper, opening track “Embers” is black and brutal from the offset, aside from an atmospheric undercurrent but as it progresses and pans out it soon becomes apparent there will be more to this album than I initially expected, the meandering haunting melody and distant choral elements and very epic lead work, a suggestion of what is to come.
“The Rock of the Clyde” is a powerful tribute to the mighty Dumbarton Rock, the volcanic plug of basalt that is the home of Dumbarton Castle, site of the longest of any stronghold in recorded history, standing the test of time and a symbol of human endurance and tenacity, a track that echoes the epic nature of that rock. The vocals are clean but there is a very rugged edge to the delivery, the more blackened aspect of the track feels like an echo of the battles the rock has witnessed over the aeons.
“Winters Light” is hauntingly atmospheric even in its more brutal moments and “Fields of Heather” is instrumentally uplifting with a stark contrast of harsh vocals turning clean in the more reflective second half.
“Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 1)” is the lighter half of this two part track, semi acoustic with clean singing and added flute, strings and the sound of crows, it melds seamlessly into “Only Distant Echoes Reign (Part 2)”which takes on a more brutal aspect in both the vocal and instrumental department slipping into a more blackened mode initially, but there is still a soaring clean guitar element which is so emotionally uplifting it’s like the grey clouds parting to reveal a blue sky as it returns to a more folky mode.
“The Rock of the Clyde” should be of appeal to fans of bands such as fellow Glaswegians, Saor and Fuath or Manchester’s Winterfylleth, it’s a great listen.
Rating – 4 ½ /5