Within the first five minutes of this album (maybe within the first two), I was taken away by the primal beast that is Musk Ox. It bears down on us all from far away, from a long time coming, and it will leaves its mark on us. The album Woodfall has finally been released two days ago to critical acclaim in most metal, neofolk & progressive chamber circles after a seven year wait from the debut self-titled album. The leader and classical guitarist Nathanaël Larochette birthed his first album with the help of Dean Watson at The Gallery Studio and a serious arsenal of classical & contemporary instruments. This guy puts the mental in multi-instrumentalist. The band has swelled and thinned over the years, but Larochette has remained the constant nurturer to his brainchild. Recently, he’s been invited to arrange songs for Agalloch, with whom Musk Ox will be playing on July 3 at Maverick’s.
The current members with Larochette are Raphael Weinroth-Browne on cello and Evan Runge on violin. Their synergy has allowed the sound to become more than the sum of the parts, which they’ve shared throughout North America & Europe. This beast has a progressive classical hand attached to a dark folk arm attached to a body that grew strong on metal and post-rock. It’s eerily good at making you want to write ferociously, if you’re into that sort of thing.
As I said, the beginning of the album grips you tightly. A Celtic expedition about to begin, more than likely into the pits of hell, and we are carried into the adventure throughout “Part 2 – Windswept.” The moving violin and chamber-like guitar transport us on the wind and into distant lands. My favourite track, “Part 3 – Arcanum,” was a friggin’ album on its own (and not just because it’s clocked at 17 minutes and 35 seconds). This hour-long exposition of raw talent was celebrated at the Mercury Lounge on June 6, 2014 to a lucky audience. Without having seen the show, I can tell you right now that I’ll be at Maverick’s for July 3. It seems to me that an album that can legitimately be described as an epic is something you should definitely see live. I will plan to be out of my wits with excitement and out of my head on the musk.