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Cân Bardd - Devoured By The Oak review

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Band: Cân Bardd
Album: Devoured By The Oak
Release date: November 2021

01. Echoes Of The Moss
02. Une Couronne De Branches
03. Devoured By The Oak Pt. 1
04. Devoured By The Oak Pt. 2
05. Crépuscule
06. Spleen By The Pond
07. Autumn Shore
08. Blomsterkransen

Does Devoured By The Oak tick every box on the ‘folk black metal’ checklist? Yep! Is that an issue? Nope!

Cân Bardd is a nominally one-man project helmed by Malo Civelli of Switzerland, although Dylan Watson has covered drum duties as a session musician on all albums released under this name to date. Civelli was all of 18 years old when he initiated the project 5 years ago, so even with multiple full-length records under his belt now, Devoured By The Oak is the work of a very young individual. Unsurprising influences listed by Civelli include Caladan Brood, Saor and Elderwind; however, although there’s nothing particularly new about what’s found on Devoured By The Oak, the quality of this album is undeniable.

There’s a few tracks on the record that are non-metal soundtrack-style scene-setters, including those bookending the album. You can pick these albums out by just looking at the runtimes on the tracklist, as all the folk black metal songs linger around the 10-minute mark in terms of length. Whilst these shorter tracks add to the feel of the album (including the sorrowful violin and singing on closer “Blomsterkransen”, provided by guests Lambert Segura and Linnéa Lindqvist, respectively), it’s those longer tracks that comprise the bulk of the record, and the bulk of the highlights.

If you’ve heard a blackened folk metal album before, you’ll know what to expect from the most part from Cân Bardd. There’s the contrast between blast beats, screams and tremolo versus an array of different instruments (from strings to wind instruments) and group chorals. The strings and wind regularly channel the tone of the soundtrack of The Lord Of The Rings, adding a sad grandeur to the plodding mid-tempo metal and the more up-tempo sections alike. Whilst the percussion does regularly reach blast beat intensity, the music itself infrequently feels extreme or hurried; the metal for large parts is more a fortifying backdrop that adds weight to the folk instruments that deliver the bulk of the melody and atmosphere. The folk itself varies from more subdued, sad instrumentation to more epic-inclined rousing group choral sections, such as those found towards the ends of “Une Couronne De Branches” and “Devoured By The Oak, Part 1”.

The extremes of these elements above do vary between songs; in contrast to the mellowness of “Une Couronne De Branches”, the two-part title track does have quite a lot of blasting frequently throughout, nothing abrasive, more in line with Saor’s heavier parts, but still more intense than anything in “Une Couronne De Branches”. There’s also more use of the guitar as a vehicle for melody on this song, with high-pitched tremolos taking on some of the folk motifs when the non-metal instruments take a breather. “Crépuscule” is a nice middle ground between the previous songs, and one in which the string instruments really get to soar and sing sweet, sad songs.

So, pretty much everything here is done in a very conventional manner for blackened folk metal. Still, just because something’s been done before, doesn’t mean that it was done in the best possible way in those prior iterations. Devoured By The Oak feels like the optimal rendition of all these genre clichés combined into one epic, rousing package. As far as the blackened folk genre in general goes, it’s not necessarily up there with a Moonsorrow, but they also have different niches in which they operate; Moonsorrow has a more pagan focus, whilst Cân Bardd seemingly draws more from movie score and fantasy musical ideas. And as far as this sound goes, it’s hard to think of many records that nail it as successfully as Devoured By The Oak.

Civelli clearly has a huge amount of talent to put together something as well-crafted as this effectively by himself at such a young age; having started with the project still in his teens, it’s natural that his writing and musicianship will mature with time and experience, which makes the potential of future offerings even more exciting if he’s already at this level. Folk metal fans would be doing themselves a disservice by overlooking Devoured By The Oak.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 6
Production: 8

Written on 21.11.2021 by Hey chief let's talk why not


Comments: 3   Visited by: 95 users
21.11.2021 - 23:42
For obvious reasons, I was on a folk black metal binge lately. Really enjoyed the epic feel of this one.
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One day there will be no heart at all?

2021 goodies
21.11.2021 - 23:50
Bad English
Tage Westerlund
Wow 2 cool band you reviewed in same short time, as reviev other was better, but this was more interesting to read, sine I listened album few times
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

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I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
22.11.2021 - 22:23
I agree with you. This ticks all the boxes of its style and it is great for what it is.

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