Founded in early 2006 during a wintry excursion to the Peak District, Northern Oak have been spreading their unique brand of flute-heavy progressive folk metal across Sheffield and the rest of the UK ever since. With a slew of gigs under their belt (including festival shows in Edinburgh, London and Nottingham) and their debut album ‘Tales From Rivelin’ released to positive reviews in 2008, the band have gone from strength to strength with their current lineup, and stand poised to unleash their second full-length ‘Monuments’, a darker and more complex offering than its predecessor, upon an unsuspecting public.
With a rich, organic sound that evokes the lush, tranquil landscape of Derwent Valley then cascades onwards into harsh, jagged chaos reminiscent of the landscapes of the Dark Peak, the music builds from rock-solid, groove-laden foundations and thunderous double-kick work into detailed harmonic overtures as guitar, flute and keyboards complement and harmonize with each other. Overlaying this are vocals which vary from whispered to spoken and screamed to roared, as the music requires.
Lyrically, ‘Monuments’ deals with a number of philosophical topics through a loose, over-arching concept; each song is part of the final writings of a Victorian scholar on his death-bed, with each song discussing either an event in his own life or a historical, mythological or naturalistic story that fascinated him. The black despair he felt over his wife’s death (‘In These Hills’) and a retelling of the myth of Gawain and the Green Knight (‘Gawain’) are two examples. In keeping with the band’s roots, the lyrics often display a strong connection to and appreciation of the endless majesty of nature.
Praised for the energetic, powerful and theatrical nature of their live performances, Northern Oak look forward to extensive gigging and touring in support of ‘Monuments’ throughout 2011.