The kind of music that'll make you want to invade Rome
I had my doubts when I approached this album. One look at the artwork and I wept. How many more symphonic power metal bands are out there? I thought that this would just be another Nightwish or Avantasia clone. But Eluveitie were in a whole different swords and elves category. One that is dominated by the amazing folk metal bands Korpiklaani and Finntroll. Although Eluveitie do at times sound very similar to these bands, there is an element of melodic death metal in their music that gives them an edge that may just set them ahead of the pack one day. The guitars are heavy and distorted, the riffs are fast and ascending, and the vocals are very much like those of Anders Friden from In Flames. Add in some female, operatic (yet often quite creepy) vocals, a whole bunch of weird instruments like the hurdy gurdy, mandola, bodhran and gaita to name but a few, and you have Eluveitie.
The most amazing thing about this album is that the primary language used is not English. Many of the songs on the album are sung in the dead language Gaulish. Of course this can make it a bit harder to shout along to the words, but who cares, as the music creates so much atmosphere that it's sometimes better just to shut up and headbang. (Always best with a pint of ale in one hand and a busty wench in the other.)
The album opens to the possessed whisperings of a female in Gaulish, before jumping straight into an intro that sums up what Eluveitie are all about. Having a folkish, medieval edge to their music without losing any of the heaviness that makes them metal. The album has its highs and lows. For every song that will have you on your feet rocking out, there is another song that will be forgettable and will become nothing but background noise.
The new single Inis Mona provides the climax of the album, as it is instantly catchy. It doesn't follow a standard metal song structure either, as an Irish flute leads the verses. The vocals are barked, hissed, screamed and howled and the song is made so much more powerful due to a tiny acoustic interlude that bridges the chorus. So when the chorus does finally kick in, it hits like a hurricane.
Eluveitie have not created the best album in the folk metal genre, and chances are they will continue in the shadow of bands such as Korpiklaani. But there is something original and different here. If the band can just harness the energy and amazing feeling of the new single into a full length album, then there's no reason why Eluveitie can't play with the big boys of the genre.
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment)