Everything Remains As It Never Was
Brutality, serenity, beauty… Eluveitie
Long time fans of Swiss folk metal band Eluveitie were left questioning the direction the band would be taking with future releases, given that their 2008 release 'Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion' was an acoustic album. 'Evocation I' did away with the brutal growls and distorted guitar that Eluveitie fans were familiar with in favour of the serenity offered by acoustic instruments and even the introduction of vocal duties by hurdy gurdy player Anna Murphy.
Fans can now rest assured that Eluveitie were simply extending the bounds of their music in what is to be a duo of acoustic albums, but they have not forgotten what it means to be metal. In fact, if anything, the band seem to have learnt a lot from their divergence into acoustic territory, and incorporated this into the new album 'Everything Remains (As it Never Was)'. Subtle elements of serenity and awe-inspiring beauty have been subliminally incorporated into otherwise brutal music, creating an epic atmosphere that can warm your heart whilst still damaging your neck muscles.
The whole album has a connecting atmosphere that not only helps to tell a story, but it also gives the impression that this could easily have been the score for a dramatic movie set in the Celtic dark ages. The opening instrumental track Otherworld sets this mood as it is as passionate as it is atmospheric, and the presence of classic folk instruments such as the hurdy gurdy and the bagpipes create mental images of the rolling, grassy highlands. Previous Eluveitie albums have always had a lot of interlude tracks and instrumentals to push the concept of the album, but fortunately this album doesn't have quite as many, which allows the momentum to build up as it continues from track to track.
For the most part the vocals are similar to those heard in previous albums, with strong, brutal roars and growls, deep corrugated whispers and the enchanting melodies of Anna Murphy, which often dance and intertwine with frontman Christian "Chrigel" Glanzmann's contrasting vocals. That said, at times they sound a lot like hardcore screams, especially in the title track, something that I had not heard on Eluveitie's previous releases, and when paired with melodic death metal inspired guitar rhythms by guitarists Siméon Koch and Ivo Henzi, I was very close to labelling the band folk metalcore. But this is only apparent in small sections of the album, and it enhances the music if anything. It was hard to tell if Eluveitie were continuing with their past tradition of singing a lot of their lyrics in the dead language Gaulish, as some of the lyrics were just hard to understand because they were so brutally roared.
In the past the band have been known for creating epic long players, yet most of the tracks on this album sit at around the four or five minute mark, yet they do not lose their epic feeling, as the energy progressively builds in each track. The Essence of the Ashes is a sing-a-long whilst you're drunk kind of song, which has a Manowar inspired concept due to it's message of unity and brotherhood. Isara begins as a quiet acoustic instrumental distantly backed by the peaceful melodies of the bagpipes, but things soon escalate and all troubles are forgotten as the two melodies weave amongst another with awe-inspiring beauty and passive energy. One of my favourite tracks is Kingdome Come Undone, which has a subliminal militaristic sound that compliments the cries of "ARISE! United we stand". Whilst each track seems to flow into the next, there is also a lot of stylistic diversity. Quoth the Raven features clean vocals, whilst (Do)Minion has early Arch Enemy inspired pulsating guitar riffs that create a doom-metal rhythm. The last two tracks of the album, Lugdonon and The Liminal Passage, the latter of which is an instrumental, are melancholic closers to what is an epic and beautiful story.
Eluveitie stood at a difficult crossroads as they no doubt held two fanbases in their hands, one of which was formed due to the release of their acoustic album. But amazingly they have managed to take the most beautiful and heart-warming elements of this and melded it with the brutality of their past work, and the result is simply epic and even at times awe-inspiring. So many bands fail to meet the demands of creating an album that surpasses the quality of those that come before it, but Eluveitie continue to progress from strength to strength, no doubt paving a path for great things to come. With the evolution heard on this album, Eluveitie remain, as they never were.
(Nuclear Blast Records/Riot! Entertainment)