"Musk Ox play a gorgeous, evocative, contemplative instrumental chamber folk music. Never hurried, Inheritance picks up themes and melodies, explores variations, flows into new ones, and circles around to re-reference them again. At times wistful, at times insistent, the three instruments balance and play off each other, sometimes sharing melodies, sometimes in counterpoint. The band’s metal cred is briefly on show, with furious martelé bowing producing percussive, djenty basslines (“Inheritance (Part 2)”), or a beefy chug referencing distorted power chords (“Ritual”). But this is not a metal record by any means. These moments are brief and over-emphasizing them would be an injustice to the beauty of the rest of the album. In a sense the 25-minute two-part title track is building up to its thunderous crescendo, but the ebb and flow of the build-up is masterfully executed and here the journey really is the reward."
"There’s something so intoxicating about this release from MUSK OX, their first in seven years. It draws you in from the very first moments and guides you, through the highs and lows of its tempo and emotive playing, through a dark wilderness. Using just a violin, a cello and a classical guitar, the Canadian trio build a world that is at once warm and human but also carries that cold atmosphere that comes with the best of black metal.
The opening two-parter Inheritance perfectly demonstrates this. The first part, Premonition, is slower and full of foreboding, the instruments slowly moving out of the fog and swirling around each other. It’s dark and mournful; a beautifully textured and endearing trudge towards a future unknown. The companion piece, Hindsight, is appropriately enough far clearer. Reworking some of the compositions, pulling different aspects to the forefront.
There’s still a mystery to the track. A hidden beauty. But over 17 minutes the band explore and dissect it, the strings interacting in new and exciting ways. The tempo changes, new characters appear to the listener, the story MUSK OX are telling adapts. There are moments that feel like a sprint through the forest, either away from, or towards something. It builds to stunning showcases of their skill and ends on something ever so discordant and cacophonic."
"Art doesn’t exist by itself. It needs a viewer, or in this case, a listener. Music reviews sometimes seem plagued by the idea of the objective experience of a piece of art, and I find myself caught in that trap as well at times. All you can really talk about is the connection between the art and the receiver. Sometimes this difference matters more than others. In the case of Musk Ox, a chamber folk group of metal-adjacent members and seemingly strong allusions to heavier genres of music, the subjectivity of the listener becomes unavoidable.
Musk Ox are a Canadian chamber folk trio consisting of Nathanael Larochette, who also plays in the excellent group The Night Watch, Raphael Weinroth-Browne, who plays with Leprous and released one of my favorite records last year in Worlds Within, and Evan Runge, who plays the violin. They play an interesting style of chamber-folk that draws on each band member’s experience with metal and metal-adjacent music. The instrumentation and feel of their songs are consistent with the band members’ associated solo work, but the writing and song structures feel more like the various progressive metal groups that lie adjacent to the group. Inheritance is the group’s third full-length album, and the first since 2014’s Woodfall."