Northern Oak is an English metal group from Sheffield. They were formed in the beginning of 2006 and after releasing some demos and a self financed full-length album “Tales from Rivelin” in 2008, they return in the end of 2010 with their second work “Monuments”. This new album is also self-released, but it looks much more professional than its predecessors.
The band describes its music as progressive folk metal, but I don’t believe that’s enough to get an idea about what they play. Northern Oak have many different styles in their music, moving from folk metal, to black / death metal, doom metal, acoustic music… Their production is somehow primitive, fitting more for an underground black metal band in my opinion! Most of the time they are in mid or slow tempo, having some faster outburst and some more acoustic tranquil parts. Their music is enriched by beautiful flutes that carry most melodies, as well as by keyboards, but they are mainly in the background. Acoustic guitars have also important role in the song melodies, while their vocals are mostly screaming brutal ones and they sound very raw, making a huge, but interesting, contradiction with their music. The song structures are quite complex and I hardly recognize any refrain or repetition in them. They have mixed many different things in their music and they did it with a weird “amateur” professionalism (I can’t describe it better)! Their songs have many interesting melodies; especially the more acoustic instrumental parts with the brilliant flutes are amazing. I believe though that a better production and better vocals would have helped them a lot, making their most extreme parts equally good. Anyway, the overall result of this mix has a unique atmosphere and I can say they have a personal sound, something very important these days. In other words I am not implying to remove the extreme parts, but to improve them Their lyrics deal with their love for nature and philosophical topics. Each song is a story by a Victorian scholar in his death-bed, remembering events of his life or other stories that come to his mind in his last hours…
Northern Oak is a very complex and ambitious band. I believe they can make something really big in the future, especially if they manage to balance their influences and improve their production… “Monuments” is a very rich album that fans of underground extreme folk metal should check. It comes with a pro-printed 16-page booklet and you can buy it directly from the band’s site, where you can also download their previous works. You could as well check their myspace and Facebook pages for some songs.
Originally published on HeavyMetalCosmos