When Eluveitie announced that its next album would be a folk acoustic album it sent shockwaves amongst its growing fan-base. Some expressed disappointment, others like myself, took a let’s-wait-and-see approach taking into consideration the talent of this band. Slania was Eluveitie’s breakout album and one the two best death metal albums of 2008. Given that they were just starting to gain notoriety around the world for the excellent combination of melodic death metal with folk music, I thought it was premature to come up with an accoustic album. A folk/metal follow-up along the lines of Slania or Spirit would have been the wiser move, in my view.
So here it is. There are two ways this could have gone. It could be better than expected or it could fulfil the pessimist’s view that it would just be poor. Unfortunately, in my view, it fails to deliver the excellent music that this band could have come up with. There are 15 tracks plus two nice and familiar bonus tracks. That’s a lot of music. However, several songs are unnecessary and have almost no value: A Girl’s Oath and Nata- both of which are mainly vocals, the first female, the second ugly male vocals that sound like a drunkard’s song. The CD has the same intro and outro song-Sacrapos-which isn’t good either. The outro version adds some bells at the end. A lot of songs are listeneable but also unremarkable and forgetable: The Arcane Dominion, Within the Grove, Dessumiis Luge, Gobanno, Voveso in Mori. I will say thought that I am very fond of Dessumiis Luge mainly because ends with an awesome and gutsy girl scream that for some reason I can’t stop listening to. This leaves us with a with a few oustanding songs: Brictom, a nice and energetic song gets things started on the right foot. The Cauldron of Renascence, a wonderful fast cheery instrumental song. The single Omnos, which is this album’s Inis Mona in so far as once you hear it, you’ll be replaying it in your head for days to come. Carnutian Forest, which is hampered by a lame intro that lasts more than half of the song. Memento, which sounds very much like a song by the great German folk metal bands In Extremo or Nachtgeschrei- that is to say, a more traditional folk song that is more bagpipe and guitar-based. And finally, Ne Regv Na, which sounds at times like a good Latin-American pop song.
Overall, this is a very pop sounding album with the vocals standing out far above everything else. In this case Anna Murphy provides the majority of the vocals with Chrigel Glanzmann providing the occasional low-volume scream or groan. Anna has quite the vocal range and a pleasing voice. But as a pop folk album it has to obey the immutable law of pop music according to which an album can have only a few good songs and the majority have to be fillers. And it’s a shame. The good songs in this album are indeed outstanding. But too many songs aren’t at all. What those songs lack is a certain something- an edge. They are rather slow, mild, musically very light- not the kind of music you associate with peppy or tear-inducing folk melodies. It mostly sounds like there are only 2 or 3 people playing instruments during most songs instead of the full 8 member band. Production is excellent overall.
The band chose not to translate the ancient lyrics. That is unfortunate. And while I do appreciate the text included in ancient scripts, I for one am curious about what the ancient Europeans had on their minds. Perhaps the lyrics to A Girl’s Oath or Nata would help us understand the significance of including these lacklusters songs. Translations for some songs can be found online if one searches long enough. The artwork overall of the booklet is nice and complex but the print quality is not good. I wonder if European versions are better. The US version looks like a copy of a copy somehow.
Recommended for those who enjoyed the folk instrumental songs on Slania and for everyone who likes their folk music sounding more pop.