Firstly, I would just like to say that I am a newer fan of Eluveitie and have no knowledge of the band’s history such as line-up changes – so I will be writing this review based on sound alone. I apologize if I make alot of comparisons to other bands, but I feel it will help the review!
Vên is very much a first EP, it is raw and full of energy but otherwise very unfocused and a little akward at times.
The music itself is pretty solid but is much more of a melodic death metal album following in the same vein as early At the Gates or Dark Tranquillity than a “celtic” or “folk metal” album. The folk influences featured much more forewardly on Eluvietie’s later albums seem to be almost thrown in as a gimmick, or after thought; there seems to be truley only a flute or bagpipe used rather than an entire ensemble which makes the later albums so interesting.
I found myself distracted on what is a pretty solid album when an intrusive flute barrage would start overplaying the guitar. Another thing which bothered me is the tempo at which the drummer was playing – there are alot of blast beats and death metal style drumming, which make the song feel like it is being dragged along much faster than the rest of the band is trying to maintain. While it doesn’t sound badly, it does almost feel again like the band doesn’t quite have their direction figured out (which is more than rectified on the following album “Spirit”.)
The vocals on the more “metal” tracks are very undeveloped and obviously unrefined at this point. They are very spastic sounding very much like Anders Fridén’s (In Flames) early vocal work on Dark Tranquillity’s “Skydancer” or Ceremonial Oath’s “Carpet”. What does set the amateurish vocals apart is a sense of realism in them. There is alot of emotion in the delivery which fit the songs well. Another element of the vocals which are lacking on this album is use of a female vocalist which I really like on 2008’s Slania especially, but it is forgiven as this isn’t a true debut.
Not too much to say about the production other than it is very raw and sounds nearly identical to At The Gates 1993 album “With Fear I Kiss the Burning Darkness”. This was a comparison I could not shake during the entire time I was listening to this disc.
If you are a fan of Eluveitie and want the entire catalog, then this is a must buy, BUT if you like the sound found on Spirit or Slania, I would skip this one.