Review Summary: I have no idea how to pronounce some of these song titles.
While cleaning the bloodstains and removing the miscellaneous knives from my car, my Ipod touch happened to play a track from SuidAkrA’s Crógacht album. The track was Conlaoch, and I instantly remembered why I got this album and I resigned myself to reviewing it. In a nutshell, this is well done melodic death / folk metal, and if that’s all you needed to hear, then you can stop reading. If you would like to know more, please continue.
The year was 2009, and I was spending (read: wasting) my time watching youtube movies when I came upon SuidAkrA’s video for “Shattering Swords.” While the video is laughable, displaying some ancient battle out of a dungeons and dragons scenario and having actors swinging weapons as if they were two hundred pounds, I found the music quite enjoyable. I was then convinced to get their entire album and listen to it, to see if the remainder of the songs was indeed enjoyable.
The album starts with a calm, quiet into: "Slán", and then seques into bagpipes. BAGPIPES. In case you weren’t aware of this, SuidAkrA are heavily influenced by Celtic myth and legend, and incorporate this influence into their music and lyrics, by adding bagpipes, banjos, and the tin whistle, as well as lyrics focusing on the legend of Cuchulainn and his journey to the Isle of Skye. Now, if you have no idea who the hell Cuchulainn is, or even how to pronounce his name, don’t worry because you are not alone. When I listened to this album, I had no idea what some of the songs were about, nor did I even know how to spell them, but from what I gathered from the vocals I could
understand, the lyrics are your basic epic power / folk metal descriptions of warriors battling bad guys.
Well, that’s not fair. The vocals are actually well done on this album. Lead vocalist Arkadius Antonik does a great job of balancing death and clear vocals. On the second track, Conlaoch, when he growls:
“I am history turned into legend
I am victory and fire, the future and desire
I am triumph and honour
I am memory turned into myth
I am Conlaoch”
I ***ing believe he is Conlaoch. As far as I know, he really could be. In the world of death metal, making vocals sound brutal, intense, and dark while also making them comprehensible is nigh impossible, but Antonik managed to pull it off, and they’re well done. The band also added a sixteen-member choir, and this is well apparent on some of the songs. I just wanted to add that, by the way.
The guitars are also well done, if a bit boring at times. The two guitarists are capable of creating decent and, at times, well done riffs and leads, and their solos are pretty cool, too. But what stands out the most in this album are the bagpipes. I was literally awestruck when I heard them. Okay, I wasn’t awestruck, but I found it interesting that they decided to put bagpipes in a melodic death album, because not many bands do that. In fact, I think this is the only melodeath band I’ve heard that had bagpipes. These pipes contribute a unique aspect of the band’s sound that sets them apart from probably the other bajillion melodic death metal bands growling about chemical apocalypse and demons. My only regret is that they aren’t utilized enough, though I’ve heard that this album had expanded on the band’s Celtic sound. The bagpipes are great, and I just wish they had more of them.
“Feats of War” is a standout track primarily because of the classical instruments, folk sound, and female vocals. Of course, you can’t have a melodic / folk / epic metal album without some female vocals, and this track is a calm, welcome change of pace from the fast paced, brutal attack of guitars, death vocals, and bagpipes. The song gets slightly heavier and metal towards the end, but, you know, it’s at the end, so no one cares. “Shattering Swords” has additional female vocals as well, and they’re also well done, making another decent track more than decent.
However, while most of these songs are well done and listenable by themselves, when you put them together, most of them sound too identical. When I reached "Baile's Strand", the epic feeling was waning, and it felt like I was running a marathon as the song ran for over seven minutes. I was ready to stick my head in a microwave by the six minute mark. Okay, it wasn’t that bad, but I was still tired. Even though there are some standouts on this album: “Conlaoch”, “Feats of War”, “Shattering Swords”, some of the tracks feel like filler, such as "Ár Nasc Fola". Not only do I have no idea how to pronounce that title, but I have no idea what it was about, and the song didn’t have anything memorable for me. Maybe I’ve destroyed too many brain cells drinking prison-brewed alcohol, but some of the songs feel like filler.
Still, the album is well done. The production is clear. The drums stand out, and offer some great blast beats, and also can be classical and folksy when necessary. The vocals, as I’ve said, are awesome, as well as the bagpipes. The guitars often share lead time with the bagpipes, and can get lost in the production when the bagpipes arrive, but hey, when a guy walks in a studio and starts playing his pipes, you’d probably let him. If you’re interested in Celtic mythology, epic battles, epic tales of heroes, or if you’ve heard of “Lord of the Rings” you would enjoy the lyrics. If you’re only interested in hearing the lead singer scream about stupid *** like his girlfriend cheating on you, I would recommend you purchase tickets to the next Bring Me The Horizon concert and drink a gallon of bleach.
I recommend this album for anyone who likes death metal, melodic death metal, or metal in general. Give it a listen, guys. You’ll enjoy it. However, I do not recommend this album for people whose occupation is to stand in front of a crowd of thirty thousand people and read song titles off of a CD.