Arð – Take Up My Bones: Album Review

Arð is the new solo project from Winterfylleth’s Mark Deeks. Take Up My Bones is the epic debut album.

Released: 18th February 2022

Label: Prophecy Recordings

Formats: CD / 2CD Artbook / Vinyl

Mark Deeks is an extremely talented multi instrumentalist. Whilst already having his own works out there, he has also been an integral part of Winterfylleth over the last few years. His orchestration, synth work and vocals add a certain aura to the black metallers sound. Now, Deeks channels his many talents into Arð; his first solo metal project.

Arð are of Northumbria. The band’s name is taken from an Old English word meaning “native land” in the dialect of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. The concept behind Take Up My Bones, revolves around the legendary relics of the famous Northumbrian saint Cuthbert (634-687) and their long journey. Formats of Take Up My Bones come with notes around the story and lyrics to the songs and the album as a whole is best enjoyed with these in hand.

To bring the story to life in music, Mark Deeks entrusted Wolcensmen mastermind Dan Capp to assist with guitars and backing vocals, Atavist drummer Callum Cox and the supremely talented Jo Quail on cello. The collective have helped Arð realise their musical vision for the story.

Throughout the duration of Take Up My Bones there are slow, crushing, dense guitars. The maudlin pace never raises its pace above a canter, and this helps drive home the epic nature of the music. Burden Foretold crashes in with bluster. It is certainly an attention grabbing opening that sends a shiver as a precursor to what is to come. Deep, foreboding vocals ring out with dark echoes as the story begins. Emphatic crashes of guitar and drums coalesce to help deliver a superb opening.

Dan Capp takes solo duties on guitar; the aforementioned Burden Foretold sees him deliver an emotive piece, but his guitar work on Raise Then The Incorrupt Body oozes ardour. With Jo Quail adding sweeping flourishes on the cello, there is huge depth to the song. Cox’ drumming enhances the piece as vocals swarm around the music in beautiful mourning. This is truly epic.

As well as the crushing side of the album, there are many highlights showcasing deft delicacy. Deeks’ work on piano is to be applauded heartily. Boughs Of Trees opens up with a relatively simple melody but the less is more approach in the repetition is incredibly hypnotic. The gradual layering of sound is masterful; it feels like each bit is added but you don’t realise such is the reticence with which they appear. When the sharper tones of the guitar appear, you could be forgiven for thinking you’re veering into more black metal territory, however, it holds back. Throughout it all, the repeated piano line holds the song together as it goes full circle.

Banner Of The Saint follows and opens in a similar way, although lead vocals are added almost immediately. In a group of songs that are predominantly heavy, it seems a little daft to say it, but Banner Of The Saints feels like the heaviest piece on Take Up My Bones. It is trudging and thunderous. Only Three Shall Know rounds out the album with more cataclysmic choral vocals interspersed with Deeks’ haunting spoken lyrics.

There are so many facets of Take Up My Bones to unravel. It begs repeated listens and will undoubtedly be looked upon with high favour in years to come as a pivotal doom record. The physical formats of the album are phenomenal; especially the double hardback book edition. To have a story as rich as this presented this way is something that any music fan will relish adding to their collection; no stone has been left unturned in realising the vision of Arð.

Listen to Burden Foretold by Arð below.

Both Dan Capp of Wolcensmen and Jo Quail have been special guests on At The Barrier. Read Jo Quail’s contribution here, and Dan Capp’s here.

Arð: Bandcamp / Website / Facebook / Instagram

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