Review Summary: Dark Tranquillity mating with some Celtic women.
Folk Metal itself has become quite a parody these days. Much like the recent explosion of the metalcore trend in which dozens of young bands continually add nothing new or exciting to a stale genre that is beat like a dead horse. Relying on cheap gimmicks and trends apparently can get you pretty far in the music business. Garnering many fans based on image is enough to sicken the any real music fan. As for Folk Metal, one can take a look at just a few bands to see where the third wave stands. Battlelore's image depicts a scene you would see straight out of a "Lord Of The Rings Movie" and is enough for you to turn away. But maybe, despite the ridiculous image, they might actually be playing something exciting. This is not the case unfortunately. Plenty of bands regardless of genre tend to fall in the same hole, making the same mistakes and just distinctly lacking the creative output to contribute something unique to the world. Fortunately, "every cloud has a silver lining". Amongst the bloated excess's of music at a whole, there are quite a handful of bands that make it a priority to add something invigorating to a stale genre. "Eluveitie" is one of those bands.
Hailing out of Switzerland since forming in 2002, Eluveitie have covered plenty of ground and are slowly becoming a house hold name in this style of music. Since then, Eluveitie have released two EP‘s and a full length in the process. Slania is the second full length album to date, further expanding upon the previous ideas that they have used since their early days. Eluveitie have spearheaded the Folk Metal scene with passion and an utmost dedication towards molding their craft into something special without having to rely on cheap tricks or some kind of look to gain attention. Blending the traditional Gothenburg melodic death metal structure with the subtle use of Celtic melodies, Eluveitie pull this style off better than many, showing a ride range of variety and experimentation to keep their sound fresh the whole way through. “Slania’ is their most recent output and in my opinion their finest work. Expanding upon previous foundations, Eluveitie have gradually improved as musicians as well as songwriters, upping the ante with a focused piece of music that deserves your attention. “Samon’ opens up with a crackling fire and a female spoken section before a crunchy riff and folk instruments set up an epic introduction for the start of the album.
The first thing you might notice about this band is that they have eight members. Unlike say Slipknot, Eluveite utilizes each member to perform to their full extent and add their own shade to the music without over exerting their abilities. Many folk metal bands rely on cheap keyboard sounds and hollow sounding flutes to carry their music. However, Eluveitite‘s approach is much more authentic and down to earth. Each member of Eluveitie play a wide variety of instruments along the basic guitar, bass, drum, and vocal set up. Mandolas, tin whistles, Uilleann pipes( native Irish bag pipes), the fiddle, the hurdy gurdy, the gaita, and the Irish flute are all incorporated within the basic metal structure. That is quite a mouthful and easy to question whether this works or not. Easily enough, this idea could fail and sound like a jumbled mess of instruments with no rhythm or balance. I can proudly say that this band manages to incorporate a slew of ideas into the organic base without sacrificing what’s good for the song for showboating. This band has plenty of talent, the least to say. Eluveitie manage to structure each influence into the music without sounding forced or just there for an interesting sound. All of the instruments are integrated to fit each song without sounding cluttered. Each track has an anthemic feel while possessing memorable sections that will stay in your head hours after you listened to the song. Easy enough, this band could tend to either have the Folk element or the Metal influence dominate the sound. But showing off their diversity and well rounded talents, they do both. Some songs tend to have the folk sections dominate as metal plays a diminished role. Some have a decidedly melodic death metal structure as the folk instruments just accentuate the song. “Bloodstained Ground” is a great example. As one of the faster paced numbers on the album, this song opens up with guns blazing, as a steady stream of double bass, fast guitars, and harsh vocals tear away. For the most part, the two sides meet together as one to make the song.
Musically, vocally, and lyrically strong, this album has a lot going for them. Aside from limited faults, this is one of the stronger releases that the Folk Metal community has seen in years. Once again, diversity is a big part to why this album is a success. Vocal wise, Chrigel doesn’t exactly posess the most original approach but none the less, plays his part well with a convincing vocal performance. At times sounding a bit like Mikeal Stanne of Dark Tranquillity, Chrigel primarily uses his harsh vocals for the majority of the album. Ranging around highs and the lows, his voice is crisp and filled with aggression. He occasionally uses his clean voice on occasion to keep the song fresh. Whether for spoken sections or for the infectious chorus from “Grave Sublime Action” clean vocals make their presence known. Although not as the typical croon, they more or less relate to powerful chants or shouts. Along with this, the clean female vocals make their presence known for one song. And in my opinion one of the stronger tracks on the album. “Slanias Song’ opens with a flute and guitar before her vocals enter. Straight forward verse and a big chorus, the female singing really makes the song here. Harsh vocals are present, although used sparingly. It is to be noted that this song is sung in another language, adding a decidedly more European flavor and uniqueness that immediately grabs you by the throat.
Unsurprisingly enough, due to all the vast ideas being rolled into one, the guitars role is slightly diminished. You won’t find anything too technical, or that many solos for that matter due to the fact that their main role is to provide a solid rhythm section. Pretty basic guitar work but solid in accentuating the music without ruining the song with unneeded technical prowess or Dragonforce virtuosity. Recalling At The Gates, the Gothenburg riff work is fast, groovy, and most importantly heavy. Surprisingly enough, on the album closer Elembivos, Eluveitie out of nowhere drops a jaw dropping solo in the latter section of the song. Quite a fitting end for a superb album. Bass work is tuned down low for the most part in the album. I can’t really say I didn’t expect this to happen on the album because the focus is given to the more important instruments destined to layer each song. There are a few moments where the bass makes it’s entrance but only for a short time. Drumming is tight. Cymbals crash, double bass roars, fast tempos, the drum work is pretty typical of the metal genre. It’s pretty difficult to stand out as a drummer in the Metal genre but none the less, Merlin plays a lot of interesting patterns and follows the tempo well with slow to fast patterns. Explaining the role of each folk instrument would take quite some time so I’ll just say that each instrument adds a nice touch and plays a large role in the music.
This album could possibly fail with any of the main instruments swallowing the others but the production on this album is excellent. Clean and crisp, every layer the music brings can be heard with a clear tone. The flute to tin whistles, drum to guitars, and the vocals are quite evenly mixed, balanced equally to a pleasurable listening experience. All in all, Eluveite have created an album that unanimously eclipses what the majority of what their brethren are releasing these days. Fans of Melodic Death Metal, Folk, or any fan of Metal in general should pick this album up. There isn’t much to dislike on the album other than the bass playing a minor role.
I personally couldn't stand the melo death riffs that run all over this album. Eluveitie go from sounding like shitty In Flames one second to generic folk metal the next. Slania's song has a wonderful verse but goes nowhere in the chorus. Good review though Balls.
Review is decent. I'd suggest going through it again in a bit and tightening up the grammar.
On the band, I always thought they were kind of ridiculous, and not just because it's a "Celtic" metal band from Switzerland. I haven't listened to them in forever, but I also don't remember this pronounced melo-death influence you're talking about. Is this new, are you pulling this out of your ass, or is my memory really just that bad?
Anyways, I'll vote if you tighten it up a little. Read it aloud, you'll notice there's some choppy, awkward sentences that either end prematurely with a period rather than a comma, or kind of go nowhere. Solid enough review though, it sparked my curiosity (even if that was a result of my poor memory) to at least plan on giving this a listen. If you want me to point out what I mean (specific sentence fragments that don't work, for example), just ask.
Fuck off with that summary though! (At least fix it up, that space looks awkward.).This Message Edited On 02.26.08
The whole first paragraph is really choppy. You start to present ideas, but then cut them off with a period and start them again.
Folk metal itself has become quite a parody these days, much like the recent explosion of the metalcore trend in which dozens of young bands continually add nothing fresh or exciting to a stale genre that is beat like a dead horse.
Notice the slight coma change (and the deletion of one), it makes this flow easier.
One major slight on this review would be the fact that you seperate the album into pieces, taking almost like a functional approach. You talk about the overall sound of the album, then the vocals, then the instruments, but never how all three combine. While it's perfectly fine (and well-advised) to point out specific instances where vocals/instruments shine, the album is really the sum of everything combined and should be reviewed as such, not as individual pieces that each need to be explained.