NSP 145 :  Saor - Guardians DigiCD/CD/2LP

Release date CD: January 13th, 2017
Release date 2LP: April 5th, 2017

"Guardians" Album TS

"Guardians" is the
much anticipated third full-length album from one-man Scottish Atmospheric Celtic Metal
project Saor.
Two years after the release of his highly successful sophomore album "Aura" (2014),
Andy Marshall returns with his
unique brand of beautifully crafted, epic Folk Black Metal steeped in folklore.

Recorded over two years in Cairndow and the Isle of Skye, the new release contains five majestic new tracks
with a playing time of just under an hour. Musically it carries on where "Aura" left off, weaving together
ligently-crafted guitar riffs, soaring folk melodies and stirring string sections, taking you on a journey
throughout the majestic, mist-covered Highland landscapes.

As well as being inspired by nature, the album takes influence from various traditional Scottish poems
which cover a range of themes such as ancient battles, cultural heritage and

On this new release, Andy has worked alongside a host of incredibly talented guest musicians from
around the world including Bryan Hamilton (Cnoc An Tursa) on drums, Meri Tadi
c (Ex-Elueviete, Irij)
on fiddle, John Becker (Austaras) on strings and Kevin Murphy on bagpipes.

"Guardians" is essential for
Atmospheric Metal fans and those craving more emotional depth in their Folk/Black Metal.

The CD comes as collectors edition in digipack
with 12-page booklet, limited to 1000 copies, and as
regular edition in jewel case.

The DLP comes with special vinyl mastering, gatefold cover, printed innersleeves and A2 poster.

111x clear vinyl
111x orange vinyl
333x black vinyl
444x azure blue vinyl


1. Guardians (11:31)
2. The Declaration (10:31)
3. Autumn Rain (11:09)
4. Hearth (11:27)
5. Tears Of A Nation (11:18)


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Official Bandcamp Page
Official Youtube Channel


"Your heart will soar, wrench and swell as the album flows and it’s truly one of the most emotive things I’ve heard this year. There’s an over-arching entrancement present but the emotional gamut it nonetheless runs is wonderful. [...] Saor is habitually great but this is particularly so."
4.5/5 -

"You’ll notice throughout this album that musically Andy is constantly upping his game from start to finish, there’s moments on here which will leave you breathless and you won’t even have finished taking those in when the next twist comes and elevates things even further. [...] By the time the fourth song “Hearth” plays you will without doubt be fully immersed in the rich and vivid atmosphere Saor has created and the album still continues to bloom, the music at this point becoming yet more intricate and complex and new ingredients still coming in [...] You’re left wondering constantly just where Saor will take this next as you try to absorb everything that’s going on, something which will take many, many listens to fully achieve. [...] [Tears of a Nation] is a final exclamation point, a culmination of a dazzling showcase of masterful composition and musicianship and by the time it’s done I’m sure many a jaw will need picking up from the floor. [...] all in all it’s safe to say that Saor has truly delivered a hugely impressive and absolutely essential album with this third effort. You’ve no doubt figured this out by now, Guardians left one hell of an impression here, and while I wish to take absolutely nothing away from Roots and Aura, Saor’s previous works I get the feeling that this is the album Andy has wanted to make for a long time, possibly his entire life. This is the coming together of music, inspiration, culture and tradition, shaped and moulded by gifted hands into something that transcends all of those things, and it’s an album which cannot fail to impress just about any fan of atmospheric metal in general. We already have some extremely strong players in this area anyway, now is certainly a good time to be into it and with Saor significantly raising the stakes it just got even better. We’ve been presented with an incredible listening experience here, one I can find very little to find fault with and as such I have no qualms in giving this the following mark."
10/10 -

"Wir haben es hier nämlich mit richtig atmosphärischem Folk / Celtic Metal zu tun. Im Grunde sind SAOR also genau das, was zumindest ich mir unter Folk Metal vorstelle, im Gegensatz zu vielen anderen Kaspertruppen, die man namentlich wohl kaum zu erwähnen braucht. Der Sound ist episch, es werden hier keine gezwungen fröhlichen Melodien gespielt, sondern diese wecken regelrecht eine Wehmut nach längst vergangenen Zeiten. Dazu tragen auch die Lyrics der fünf Songs bei, die allesamt aus klassischer schottischer Lyrik geschöpft sind. Und was ich am allerwenigsten erwartet hätte: die Produktion haut den Hörer regelrecht um. Hier ist nichts glatt geschliffen; das Album wirkt trotz aller Melodik recht roh und verbreitet dabei die dazu passende Atmosphäre. [...] reinhören sollte jeder in dieses Album, der Folkanteile im extremen Metal mag. Ich für meinen Teil war nach dieser knappen Stunde Musik mehr als nur positiv überrascht. Definitiv: Kaufempfehlung!"

"Guardians shows Marshall excelling in his ability to craft emotive and highly cinematic pieces of music; the record opens with an ensemble of guitars, drums and bagpipes, perfectly setting the tone for the rest of the album, as Marshall invokes a grandiose image of Scottish Highlands. [...] The step up in production is immediately obvious if we are to draw comparisons with Aura; even as multiple melodies vie for the listener’s attention, it envelops rather than overwhelms. The music is ultimately much denser, and less rough around the edges, and where some black metal acts seek to suffocate their listeners in walls of sound, Saor places more of an emphasis on clarity. [...] Guardians is not short of emotional depth; instances like the sorrowful opening passage of ‘Autumn Rain’ are only accentuated by the inclusion of strings accompanying a sombre guitar melody. These more melodic segments in this album are perfectly counterbalanced by the sheer ferocity and might of the heavier sections, the songs surpass the 10-minute mark while curving gracefully through each section. Guardians consistently captures the pure essence of folk-tinged black metal with its brilliant multi-faceted structure, neatly and elegantly weaving together the melancholic, intense and sombre themes that encompass this record. There’s an unshakable feeling of nostalgia – something not uncommon to this subgenre – but Saor’s nostalgic spirit is presented as so eloquent and genuine that it easily stands out among the rest. Andy Marshall’s growing songwriting ability is palpable, with Guardians being easily the most refined and enjoyable Saor record to date; it excels not only in terms of composition and production, but the poetic nature of the lyrics lends itself a warmer, sentimental atmosphere; a truly heartfelt love letter to one’s ancestry."

"Probably one of my most anticipated releases for 2016 is the newest epic from Scotland’s Saor. [...] To say my expectations were high is a vast understatement and I can easily say I am certainly satisfied and fulfilled with this amazing album. [...] If you are expecting “Aura Part 2” I think you will be happy to know that a connection is there to “Aura” but it is much more diverse in style and risk taking and overall a much stronger and deeper album. [...] While I will never have anything to say negatively about “Aura”, I feel that “Guardians” seems more natural and effortless sounding than “Aura”, again I think the connection is stronger than ever to the land, nature and history of the country. The folk instrumentation seems to play a larger, more integrated role as well with lush strings, fiddle and bagpipe throughout each track… a finely woven tapestry that you hear something new with each passing listen. Vocally, Andy has a more primal and visceral approach on “Guardians”, equally fog shrouded and commanding with passion behind each syllable. At the end of the day, this is an album that will satisfy the heavier music listeners to the more folky ones and everyone in between."
9.5/10 -

"Wie schon auf den Vorgängeralben weisen auch sämtliche fünf Tracks von „Guardians“ mit im Schnitt 11 Minuten Spielzeit Überlänge auf. Woran andere glorios scheitern, da läuft Saor zur Höchstform auf! [...] Die Kombination aus äusserst atmosphärischem Black Metal und Folkelementen kommt dem Highlander dabei natürlich zu Gute. In diesem Genre lassen sich träumerische Gitarrenpassagen gefühlt ewig in die Länge ziehen, ohne dabei an Reiz zu verlieren. Wie aber die Folkinstrumente Dudelsack, Flöte, Bodhrán und Geige (letztere übrigens teilweise eingespielt von der ehemaligen Eluveitie-Violinistin Meri Tadic) integriert wurden, ist ganz grosses Kino!"
14/15 -

"Attempting to explain the music without resorting to metaphors of nature, simply becomes unnatural to me. Guardians blends with the wild, heathen nature. This is Andy's hymn to the unspoiled, nearly untouched parts of the motherland, and maybe even the clan's ancestry through generations, and that's something everyone should experience; the joy and pride of ones home country, unvarnished by politics, spared from controversy, prejudice, corruption and intrigue. Only land(scape) and man. This is national romanticism of the harmless but genuinely heartfelt variety. Roots was good, but almost feels monotonous compared to Guardians. I have no doubt that I like the new work a few notches more. Compared to the debut, Guardians requires a little more time, but it's really worth it when you can close your eyes and travel to a different, perhaps distant part of the world in you own mind. Stunning cover art, by the way."

"Every song sounds like the wayward soul of Scotland transcribed into music. [...] Guardians is a fine effort that should be proud of its place in the Saor catalogue. It’s predictable and formulaic, and it doesn’t matter one bit. For a third consecutive release, Saor has proven themselves to be the masters of atmospheric black metal. Andy Marshall’s music, inextricably linked with the landscape and culture of Scotland, continues to be some of the most transcendent and gorgeous music in the metal climate today."

"One can rely on Saor for many things. Not only does this Scottish black metal artist have a legion of devoted followers, but the passion which has been welling up inside those fans since 2014’s Aura has been tangible and almost frightening. This is why the announcement and preview of the artist’s third record Guardians has been met with excitement, acclaim, and downright longing from that community. [...] One of the many great feats that Saor accomplishes is the ability to mesh two disparate styles together and make them harmonious. [...] Guardians continues to treat the three aspects of the music, the black metal, the folk, and the atmospheric qualities, with delicate care that the album can be nothing else but a success."
7/9 -

8/10 -

" on Guardians it is that fury and anger at the ills inflicted upon Scotland and the sadness and melancholy of the history of their land while at the same time the realisation that freedom has surely never been so close that gives Guardians such a dramatic feel to it. The music sweeps you away and if like me you are a stranger to celtic-metal then this is a perfect place to start and immerse yourself in the soundscape of Scotland."

"The fantastic thing about this particular subgenre is that it effortlessly transports you elsewhere. You cannot help but be swept away as the all-enshrouding music that wafts over you. In the case of Saor, it carries me away to an ancient time in Scotland’s history I will obviously never see myself, but with this music, makes me feel as if I can. It is that essence of the music and production quality that elevates Guardians above its competition. If you wish to be taken back to a simpler time, rife with the spirit of the Scottish isles, but also to experience a darker and fresh take on atmospheric folk metal music, then Saor’s album Guardians is more than worth your time."

"Ein Album wie „Aura“, das trotz technischer Makel von Anfang bis Ende fasziniert, zu übertreffen, ist beinahe ein Ding der Unmöglichkeit, doch es scheint SAOR tatsächlich gelungen zu sein. Rein objektiv wurde hier natürlich einiges besser gemacht, doch sogar von einem subjektiven Standpunkt aus betrachtet braucht „Guardians“ den Vergleich nicht zu scheuen, denn man hat die Songs innerhalb kürzester Zeit ins Herz geschlossen. Es gäbe noch so viel mehr darüber zu sagen, doch um den Rahmen nicht zu sehr zu sprengen, muss wohl die Feststellung genügen, dass es sich hierbei um ein einmaliges Meisterwerk atmosphärischen Metals handelt."
9.5/10 -

"This album has everything one comes to expect from Saor: beautiful melodies, emotional, fluid passages of music, cohesiveness in its structure, and superb songwriting. It is also highly atmospheric and sorrowful, as if commemorating the life and struggle of Scotland. This album picks up right where its predecessor, Aura, left off, and it shows the deep love Marshall has for his home. [...] Guardians is definitely worth your attention, and it continues to show that Marshall’s brand of Celtic-influenced atmospheric folk/black metal has not slowed down in the slightest. This album remains a beautiful piece of work and I am sure it will be a contender in many end-of-the-year top 10 lists."

4.8/5 -

82/100 -

8.5/10 -

"The fact that the metal world keeps giving so late into the year is a gift to behold, and Saor’s “Guardians” is one that should be embraced and absorbed in full for a fully immersive experience. Marshall has built this band and crafted its approach carefully, and in such a short time, he has created one of the more captivating bands in all black metal. As sure as the winter winds will whip every year and bring with it a chill, we can be certain Saor will keep visiting us with imaginative, emotional new adventures that keep the fires within our hearts lit all year long."
Pick of the week -

"Guardians serves as a reminder that Saor, independently, is setting the new standard in both black and folk metal this year. As each song builds off one another and eventually climaxes to some of the project’s finest work, Guardians stays to its earthly roots and shows what is capable when you put thought and emotion into your music."

"It’s been awhile since I’ve been completely blown away when I’ve heard an artist for the first time, and blown away is exactly what happened when I heard Scottish artist Saor. [...] Andy Marshall has created a beautiful sounding album with complex musical arrangements containing masterfully crafted guitar riffs melodiously accompanied by bagpipes, fiddles, and other stringed instruments plus pounding double bass drumming. [...] Guardians is surely not an album to miss if you’re looking to hear something some fresh and original."

"Aura felt more like a collection of songs (some really good songs, mind you) but no one track on Guardians feels complete on its own. You really do have to listen to the whole thing all the way through to get the full picture. Though this doesn’t have as many specific moments that stand out, Guardians feels much more complete and well-rounded than anything they have done before, and by the end of the album you’ll feel a little bit exhausted, but nonetheless satisfied. [...] barring some sort of drastic change in style or vision, Saor looks content to remain at the top of the atmospheric folk metal heap."
9/10 -

""Guardians" besticht durch wunderbare Kompositionen, enorm viel Leidenschaft und so viel Ideenreichtum, dass es an Unterhaltung überhaupt nicht mangelt. Dass die Stücke alle abwechslungsreich und eigenständig sind, versteht sich da schon von selbst und auch die Spielzeit geht mehr als in Ordnung. Die Produktion ist fantastisch, geradezu filmreif, und würde sich für so manchen Streifen eignen. Die perfekt eingespielten Instrumente harmonieren wunderbar zusammen und kreieren bei mir echtes Gänsehautgefühl. Wenn
Musik sowas schaffen kann, wurde in meinen Augen alles richtig gemacht.
Fazit: Mal wieder (muss man sagen) ein ganz großes Werk des schottischen Künstlers hinter Saor. Qualität trifft auf ganz viel Gefühl. Warum sollte man hier noch krampfhaft negative Punkte finden wollen? Hier stimmt wirklich alles. Ein Album zum Verlieben."
10/10 -

"Saor's music has an almost effortless beauty, as if it were not so much written and recorded as prescribed to exist by the land itself.

Each discrete thread of the album works in some way to the benefit of the whole piece. The dazzling guitars that sing "The Declaration" to its rest, the weeping violins that gently coax "Autumn Rain" into being, the clarion whistling of the flutes, the rocky and weatherbeaten tone of the vocals - every aspect is authentic to the spirit of the album. I'm reminded of Devin Townsend's Terria, Woods Of Ypres's Woods IV, or anything by Fen, Thrawsunblat or Primordial; the music seeps out of the earth itself with a raw and primal beauty that makes the landscape depicted on the cover realer than what you see before you.

The vibrant, beautiful crescendo of "Tears Of A Nation" brings Guardians to its fullest being with the most impassioned and inspired melodies yet. This final song truly makes the album feel like the soundtrack to the life of a glorious nation, filled with the valorous spirit and enchanting songs of its people. Guardians continues the journey of Roots and Aura, but brings their sound to a triumphant climax the likes of which Andy Marshall has not before accomplished."
8.4/10 -

"Fans of AGALLOCH, MOONSORROW or WINTERFYLLETH will gravitate to this music quickly if they haven’t already done so by now. [...] This album was a great pleasure to hear. SAOR extends their talents far beyond mediocrity. It is mandatory to be moved by music this passionate and strong. The Scottish patriotism throughout this album calls us all back to the Highlands of Scotland despite where you may actually come from. There is something so mystical about that place that it leaves a stain on its countryside and people; People who can use this mysticism to enchant their music."
9/10 -

8.5/10 -

"This is undoubtedly one of our candidates for album of the year, mixing beautiful folk and epic black metal on a work to be heard again and again, appreciated and above all felt. A true work of art which undoubtedly raises the bar when we thought it could not be higher. A direct connection to ancient times and an exceptional quality album."
9.8/10 -

"Andrew crafted once again a masterpiece of Scottish Folkloric Black Metal that ends the same way it started, with bagpipes and guitar. While fans of his more aggressive previous releases might find it a little soft, this record demonstrates that Andrew can still change the formula and stay relevant to the genre. The folkloric instruments bring a whole new depth to his soundscape that wasn’t as important as on this record and this is emphasized by the great composition of the songs."

"Guardians is a real tribute to Scotland both in its literature and its history in its landscape [...] The music of Saor is captivating as it is pure and unadulterated reflection of the atmosphere and the values it transmits, simply close your eyes to be in a windy and deserted plain ravaged by the battles of yesteryear. The Metal and Atmospheric Folk that the group proposes is far from the bands doing role playing music where they perform drinking songs for teenagers in kilts and plastic horn filled to the brim with Skoll [...] Saor offers music that encloses the soul of ancestors, Guardians therefore continues where Aura stopped, going even further in the quality of the pieces and richness of instrumentation, while pursuing the objective of telling us the history of Scotland, the beauty of its vast landscapes and the pride of its people facing adversity."

"In my opinion, Guardians is the best album so far from the project, but there’s a pretty strong case to be made for both of the previous albums as well [...] Neither of the previous two, however, have captivated me as much as the frosty soundscapes this one offers up. There’s beautiful tranquility to be found here, a Romantic return to a landscape much greater than ourselves, a sense of grandeur and purpose that can’t be emulated anywhere else."

"In short, I'm not doing this record justice by simply describing this how well it shifts and soars - Guardians is a record that feels like you're on the back of a dragon, flying low over the sweeping hills and leading a great host beneath in a desperate charge. It's primal and organic - the production on the strings and pipes especially, they sound so ragged it's perfect - but ridiculously well-composed and balanced. It's a triumphant record, not the howling tranquility of Panopticon but closer to the thunderous swell of the best folk or power metal. In short, this is easily getting a 9/10 and the highest of my recommendations, especially if you're a fan of atmospheric black metal and are looking for some of the most powerful melodies you'll hear all year. Absolutely essential, so glad you all recommended this, definitely check it out - it's incredible."
9/10 -
Spectrum Pulse (Video Review)

"Sprach ich bei den Vorgängerwerken noch davon, dass Andy Marshall auf dem besten Wege ist, sich selbst ein Denkmal zu errichten, so hat er dieses mit "Guardians" endgültig erbaut und darüber hinaus mit allerlei Zierrat veredelt, der so dermaßen detailverliebt eingearbeitet wurde, dass man hier, wenn man sich mal die oft zitierten Größen wie MOONSORROW, AGALLOCH, PRIMORDIAL oder auch WINTERFYLLETH kurzzeitig wegdenkt, bedenkenlos von einem Meisterwerk, von einem Referenzwerk sprechen kann, an dem sich ein Gros dieses Pagan-Black-Metal-Sektors unumgänglich messen lassen muss. "Guardians" ist in vielerlei Hinsicht düsterer und ruppiger, unterscheidet sich dadurch auf angenehme Weise von seinem Vorläufer, beherrscht aber ebenso prächtig die Kunst, Bilder aus der Musik und den darin untergebrachten Emotionen zu erwecken, und sprüht dabei abermals nur so vor Leidenschaft und Eigenständigkeit. Wenn sich die erhabenen schottischen Highlands vor einem aufbauen, wenn der Regen garstig in's Gesicht prasselt und einem der klirrend-kalte Wind entgegenpeitscht, weiß man einfach, dass die Kunst in diesem Fall einmal mehr an den äußersten Rand der Perfektion getrieben wurde und SAOR als Gesamtkunstwerk nun endgültig ganz oben angekommen ist. Vor dem jungen Schotten Andy Marshall kann man sich als Außenstehender schlussendlich nur noch verneigen und hoffen, dass er diesen Weg konsequent weiterbestreiten wird."
5/5 -

"There’s something splendidly sincere about this album, it’s thicktapestries of sound, but most of all the moments where it dresses down and speaks more directly. Often with one instrument taking the voice for a few lines, leaving the music to do the talking. The vocals are sparse but meaningful, but it’s those passages, like the final part of ‘Tears of a Nation’ that really do it for me. Saor is a project made with a lot of love for something Scottish, something pure and maybe even conceptual. This makes the music as direct and pure as that. Lovely."

"“Guardians” is definitely recommended to the lovers of pagan/folk metal genre but also to anyone who is a fan of the Scottish landscape; listen to the record and be prepared to be taken away to the highlands and to breathe in the Scottish air. One of the bests of 2016!"

"Simply beautiful, yet a saddening masterpiece and I hope you will all take an hour of your time to experience this amazing album."

"Fans of Saor’s previous work will know what to expect from the latest album: monstrous guitar riffs grappling with soaring fiddles and beefed-up bagpipes over unhurried tracks that seem to last a lifetime. But while its predecessors sounded very much like the work of a musician figuring out his sound, Guardians sounds fully formed and unapologetic. [...] Commanding creative control over an art form so fucking… geodynamic allows a sole prime mover to sculpt their music landscape into terrifying, beautiful forms. Bands as connected to their environment as Saor can truly channel the spirit of the land into their music, building up peaks and eroding valleys as naturally as the wind and the rain. The result is barely a collection of songs and more a travelogue expertly communicated via the gnarliest guitar tones this side of Stornoway."

"Saor are Scotland’s defining metal act. I don’t mean Saor rule the pack for 2016, or even the 2010’s. I mean Saor is Scottish metal. [...] Should Roots, Aura, and Guardians be the penultimate of a career, then a trilogy of near-perfect story-telling isn’t a terrible way to fade. Guardians sounds like a destination record, with the previous two acting as the journey. [...] regardless of the lack of progression from the previous two albums, Guardians stands tall as one of the best albums of 2016. [...] Saor’s Scottish roars will continue to echo into the chambers and caverns of metal well beyond the foreseeable future."
4.1/5 -

9/10 -

"Bereits das letze Album, „Aura“, war 2014 eines der besten Alben seines Jahrgangs, bereits unter „schwer zu übertreffen“ kategorisiert, ein wirklich unfassbares, atemberaubendes Album, ein eigentlicher Höhepunkt. „Guardians“ übertrumpft das Ganze allerdings noch einmal. [...] Saor lebt von Andy Marshalls grandioser Komposition und Konzeption. Jedes Instrument ist stimmig im Gesamtrahmen der Lieder. Der Schotte scheint für jeden Augenblick das richtige Gespür zu besitzen – ob langsamer und ruhiger, schneller und härter. [...] Jede einzelne Sekunde ist auf einem konstant unfassbar hohen Niveau, versucht sich zu übertrumpfen und führt zu einem Meisterwerk nach dem anderen. [...] Man hat es wohl gemerkt: Das ist weniger ein Review als eine Liebeserklärung. Nicht ohne Grund. Das Album alleine macht Fernweh auf Schottland. Es gibt nicht viele Musiker, die ein solches Album nahezu alleine auf die Beine stellen können, mir fallen da maximal eine Handvoll ein. Andy Marshall ist definitiv einer davon. Hört auf jeden Fall rein, ob auf Youtube oder Bandcamp, zweifellos (und nach dem Review wohl auch wenig überraschend) mein heißer Kandidat auf Album des Jahres."
10/10 -


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