Review 2184 : Ard – Untouched By Fire – English

This is Ard’s new step.

Following the release of his debut album in 2022, Mark Deeks (vocals/guitars/bass/keyboards, Bone Tomb, Winterfylleth) is now at work on his second Northumbrian collection, Untouched By Fire, released once again by Prophecy Productions.

He is joined on the album by Dan Capp (guitar/vocals, Wolcensmen) Callum Cox (drums, Atavist) and Robina Huy (violin), as well as other live musicians.

The album opens with the impressive but majestic Cursed to Nothing but Patience, revealing heavy riffs coupled with infinitely gentle backing vocals, immediately recreating that unique blend of almost mystical character. The piano touches strengthen the omnipresent melancholy of the heady melodies which eventually fade away to make way for Name Bestowed, which initially takes a much gentler approach, leaving saturation aside before letting it invade its riffs once more. The slow march carries us along in its wake until Hefenfelth unveils its haunting yet relatively reassuring harmonics, which respond to the various vocals before giving way to a certain violin-led simplicity. The solemn ambience also remains present right to the end, before transforming into a more threatening form on He Saw Nine Winters, allowing darkness to express itself beneath the wall of mist, but once again subject to the obvious light of the creator who naturally brushes it aside. Beverley Palin lends her Northumbrian bagpipes to Beset by Weapons, a rather short but equally fascinating track that brings Folk roots to life more than ever before, before Casket of Dust embodies the purest nostalgia one last time, thanks to the same weighty, awe-inspiring approach that regularly unleashes epic sonorities before the band lets them rest once more in peace.

The Ard project remains anchored in its historical roots to build this second chapter as majestically as the first. Untouched By Fire fascinates from the very first note, and barely lets us rejoin our world after the last.


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