At times Scottish black metal exponents Ruadh sound like they might be the hardest thing to venture out from their homeland since the mighty Graeme Souness, but thankfully the fifty-odd minute duration of their second album The Rock of the Clyde isn’t just all about blastbeats and the aural equivalent of a series of bone crunching tackles from behind (that’s enough football -Ed).
Indeed for large portions of TROTC, band mainman Tom Perrett opts to employ a series of devices from the ‘other side’ of black metal, making for a very listenable package indeed.
So, fans of Bathory are at least as likely as fans of Winterfylleth or related artists to get something out of the well-thought-out sextet of tracks that make this album up. And whilst Perrett is happy to kick off the album’s opening track Embers with one of the heaviest passages of music you’ll hear all year, it’s not long before he succumbs to the call of the Glens in all their bucolic glory. Stags sniff the air, thoughtfully, the masters of the primal wilderness they survey. And then Phil Morrison opens up with another prolonged drum salvo, smashing the reverie into a million pieces as he does so…
…It’s that kind of album. Although there is a palpable air of Celtic rock surrounding the album (the title track echoes memories long buried in the psyche of old Big Country and Runrig gigs, despite the death grunts and double kick barrages), things never become twee or cloying; Despite the length of the majority of the tracks, Perrett keeps things rocking along at a fair clip throughout, engaging and energising the listener in the process. As already noticed, this is an incredibly listenable album for something so obviously rooted in the extreme.
Winter Light is the album in microscosm; a violent opening, all percussive battery and guttural ululation, which slowly dissolves into cinematic if misty-edged memories of Alba before the inevitable return of machine gun drum tattoos and anthemic, rouse-the-clans-from-slumber guitar figures. It’s pretty irresistible stuff, as Perrett loads layer-upon-layer of bombast to the mix. Yet overkill is never reached; our protagonist does everything with the sure hand of a master craftsman, with the result being a joyous celebration of everything that makes the black metal genre so beguiling.
An essential purchase? Possibly not, but you owe it to yourself and your neighbours to give this album at least one run all the way through before you make a decision. Great stuff.
Rock of the Clyde is out on May 22nd.