Review Summary: An epic slab of pagan doom metal smothered in celtic undertones for fans of Primordial, Candlemass, Ereb Altor and viking era Bathory.
I’m always on the lookout to find metal bands that stand out to me amongst the stagnant and repetitive genre. More often than not I come up empty but I occasionally strike gold. As is the case here with Mael Mordha, an Irish doom metal outfit that merges traditional Celtic folk with Candlemass style doom metal. The Irish metal scene had been pretty low key for almost tow decades now but since Primordial latched onto Metal Blade Records it seems that more recognition is being shown towards the emerald isle. Young and old alike, Mourning Beloveth, Darkest Era, For Ruin, Cruachan, Gamma Bomb, and Waylander are picking up strength trying to compete with surrounding neighbors.
Doom metal is a tricky genre to play around with but Mael Mordha are one of the more interesting acts to play the style. Forming in 1998, the band has only released one album up to 2007 before Gaeltacht Mael Mordha was released. Not exactly a traditional doom record in the sense that more focus is directed towards melodic interludes ranging from tin whistles and piano to acoustic guitar and bodhran. I guess a more appropriate term for Mael Mordha would be epic heathen metal. With a new label to provide the proper support the band needed and a new album just waiting to be played live, 2007 was a good time for Mael Mordha to step outside and flex some muscle. And so far they have with this adventurous slab of he-man doom that invokes the might of Bathory and the heart of Primordial. The atmosphere is victorious and filled with pride, something that Swallow The Sun should take note for the future. Coming in at 7 tracks with over 40 minutes of material, Gaeltacht gives the band time to pummel the listener with straightforward but musically diverse melodic doom.
Vocally, Roibéard Ó Bogail comes off as an impressive mix between Aaron Stainthorpe and Alan Averill. He features that slight monotonous draw to Aaron as well as Alan’s passionate delivery. His singing voice is very powerful and obviously accented by his Irish roots, sounding great enough where harsh vocals would only end up buoying the albums progression. Lyrically, the album is pretty strong touching off an old war with Brian Boru which is always fun to read about. Roibeard also plays the piano which adds a nice touch with the tin whistles, lending an authentic Celtic feel to the music. The guitar work has doom metal delight written all over it, bringing in semi heavy riffing patterns ranging from low to mid tempo grooves in the vein of Primordial and Candlemass. There are a few solos to write home about because of how memorable they are. The guitar work while pretty basic, sounds immensely powerful when the soft to heavy dynamics start shifting direction to build up momentum for one final pummeling beat down. The speedier moments are most impressive as shown graciously by the Amon Amarth inspired punch of “The Struggle Eternal“. Shane’s drumming patterns are quicker than most doom metal bands but fails to be anything more than just ordinary. Plenty of jagged double bass and crushing patterns to satisfy the basic beat happy metal fan but unfortunately the drums are a little low in the mix. Dave Murray’s bass work follows lead guitar pretty well, pretty catchy and loud enough for me to follow so no complaints in that department.
Production is pretty solid for the most part but I find the drumming at points too be a little too soft for my tastes but other than that captures the essence of Mael Mordha perfectly. The strongest aspect for this album would be the songwriting because each of the seven tracks are catchy and well executed as can be. All killer no filler. This band clearly knows what they’re doing and I can only hope that they hit up America soon because I’m tired of all my favorite bands missing Florida. If worst comes to worst, I‘ll just paddle to Cork and make a new living there while I‘ll be able to catch these guys as well as some of my other favorites on a daily basis. This is a very diverse and accessible album to get into so I recommend everyone who are fans of Bathory, Primordial, Candlemass, and Ereb Altor to check out. If not, this is a great album for a little fantasy role-play inspiration in the bedroom.
Pretty good review, although I'm not sure how much I would really enjoy this. I've been really picky lately since I've gotten some albums which were reviewed by people here who said they were awesome and they turned out to be nothing worth noting. We'll see, last.fm here I come.This Message Edited On 08.25.08
Well, it's not one of your best reviews but by no means is it terrible. You might want to leave out some parts from the last paragraph about you hoping that they come to America and paddling to Cork since it is irrelevant to the album.
Yeah, that band was pretty sick but I can't afford it right now. Their myspace page is a chore to look at, the influences and such are pretty epic. I'll check it out soon, but first my studded belt broke, i'm on the road for a third one.
The Irish metal scene had been pretty low key for almost tow decades
Review was very well written, especially your descriptions of the guitars in the third paragraph. Very nice! I've never heard of these guys but I will add them to my 'longer than Santa's' list of albums I need to listen to.
By the ways, your rec' for Withered' Folie Circulaire was so damn good that it might surpass the almighty Watershed as this years best. Absolutely falling in love with that album. One of the biggest surprises for 2008. Thanks again.