Andy trimmed the fuath
Andy Marshall definitely likes to form new projects, release one album with it and then form a new one (I'll ignore Falloch since they were truly mediocre and it wasn't a one-man band). It happened with Askival at first, and then Àrsaidh changed its name after the debut album called Roots. Finally, the newly entitled Saor released Aura in 2014. The thing is that those three projects shared very similar identities, they were all super entrenched in Scottish folk music and had all sorts of folkloric instruments like the tin whistle. I can understand changing the Àrsaidh name since like my fellow reviewer Caspian said, it sounds like arsehead but eh, it's still fun to watch him evolve through his music.
Fuath on the other hand leaves this behind to explore a simpler, streamlined and in the end mostly more rewarding style. While I liked Arsaidh a lot, it was still a somewhat cheesy and jam packed album and I think the writing is more mature and developed. Sure there's not a lot of variety but it's not needed and it's not the point of this style of music. It rarely works when yourself to include as much genres and influences as possible, restraint is a great quality in metal music and Andy used this concept to his advantage here.
This debut album has the same rich sound but Andy definitely simplified his approach, it's basically only atmospheric black metal inspired by the modern acts such as Vemod or early Wolves in the Throne Room (not as “cascadian”, whatever this means). The four tracks are sprawling numbers and they all contain a huge amount of riffs, it's atmospheric because of the natural aura the production has and the sense of grandeur the simplified yet totally epic feel the songwriting is. The guitars are subtle yet incisive and the vocals shadowy yet entrancing and emotional. There's still some remnants of the folky side but it's mostly in the background recalling the days of yore (such as in the second track “Blood” and it's done tastefully. The real difference maker in atmospheric black metal is the worthiness of the riffing combined with the airy ambiance and both are top notch here.
Nowadays, the musicianship and production values of one-man bands can often be exceptional (see The Ruins of Beverast or Midnight Odyssey) and Fuath is no exception. There's nothing unnecessary on this 41 minutes album, everything is produced like it should be, it's not too clean, not too raw and the instrumentation is super good. The people who thought Soar was too pompous (this includes myself) are gonna dig this record, it's less flamboyant but the black metal roots are much much evident and they're used to concoct this potent Scottish potion.
Fuath on Bandcamp
My review for Arsaidh written in 2013: ROOTS