Monuments Review: Loucifer Speaks

Folk Metal is a genre that has me divided. When it’s executed well, I love it. I get all excited about it and start name-dropping the band that’s created it into pretty much any conversation I have (for example; “Would you like a sandwich, dear?” “Oh yes, please. Did you know that Band X is rather good?”). However, when Folk Metal is not created to my standards (i.e., when it’s a bit… ‘soft’), it tends to wind me up. I end up getting that feeling when I want to run into the band’s recording studio or rehearsal space and scream “STOP! PUT DOWN THE FLUTE BEFORE I SHOVE IT UP YOUR ARSE!” at the top of my lungs. Now, to be candid, I hate playing ‘Hide the Flute in the Orifice’ (it can be messy and isn’t the best use of my time) so I tend to avoid a lot of Folk Metal. However, there are times when I just have to pay attention. When Northern Oak contacted me, it became clear that this was going to be one of those times. Now, I’m not going to lie to you… the reason why I was keen to listen to (and subsequently review) this album was because I liked the artwork. Yes, I know, I’m very shallow. Deal with it.

So, we’ve gathered that the artwork is rather pretty. Go on, have a look above and admire it. Now, what’s the music like?

The first listen to “Monuments” made me go ‘OOOOHHH!’. This is a hugely positive sound and one that should be made as often as possible – especially when listening to Northern Oak. Yes, there is a flute but it’s been teamed up with some of the most savage vocals you could hope to hear and driving guitars.

The band have that uncanny ability to make music that takes the listener away from their dreary day-to-day existence and deposit them in a far off land. The music is often beautiful, it’s at times threatening and bestial but it’s always completed to an incredibly high quality. In fact, everything here has been created to this incredibly high quality – the music, the artwork, the lyrics, the production. “Monuments” is most definitely the full package. I get the feeling that Northern Oak are a band of perfectionists and this certainly works in their favour.

Genre-wise (because, y’know, it’s important that we stick labels on things) Northern Oak are a Folk/Black Metal band. I think that’s fair to say, and to be honest, it’s pretty much the way that they describe themselves. But, as you listen to the album and become immersed in it, you’re treated to other influences and other (for want of a better word) ‘things’ that separate this band from other bands of the same ilk. Northern Oak definitely have their own identity and their own sound.

Northern Oak have created the kind of album that Folk Metal fans will go nuts over. It’s also the kind of album that could have more sceptical members of the metal community changing their minds and warming to the genre.

Rating: 92%

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