Review Summary: Welcome to your new favorite metal genre.
Metal music has so many sub-genres that it’s often hard to keep track of them all. There’s thrash for those who want a relentless head banging sound. There’s also progressive metal for those who like a band that’s not afraid to try something different. This list goes on and on, but for those who are looking for something new, there’s another metal genre that’s more than worth checking out. Folk metal.
Let me start by saying folk metal is not for everybody. It’s likely to please fans of melodic metal, but others may not find it to be aggressive enough. One thing is certain though, it’s unbelievably catchy, especially when done right and few bands can mix Celtic/folk influences with melodic death metal like Eluveitie can. Although the Switzerland band didn‘t release their debut album until just over 5 years ago, they’ve been very active lately, putting out an album every year from 2008 through 2010 and releasing an album earlier this year. So far they’ve been remarkably consistent and have yet to make a bad record. Of all their albums however, their second full length “Slania” could very well be their greatest achievement.
The most impressive thing about “Slania” is the band’s ability to flawlessly mix so many musical styles and instruments. All eight band members bring something to the table and the music sounds surprisingly focused considering how many instruments are at hand. The perfect example of this focus can be found in the infectious third track, ‘Inis Mona’. The song is the perfect blend of melody and aggression and it flows incredibly smoothly because none of the instruments are overused. It’s full of Uilleann pipes (also known as Irish bag pipes) and they sound superb alongside the guitars , giving the song a feeling of epic proportions.
Thankfully, they don’t follow the exact same formula in every song so the album never seems to grow stale. ‘Slania’s Song’ starts out much slower and features some enjoyable female vocals which helps give the song a different feel than the other tracks. It might be sung in Gaelic, but like most of the songs, it’s too beautiful to ignore. Many of the tracks are also sung in Gaulish which is basically an extinct language (quite interesting if you ask me). Apart from the more melodic songs, some are considerably heavier, such as ‘Bloodstained Ground’ which has some of the most violent riffs on the album. It’s a song that relies more on the heavy guitars and drums then anything proving the band can be an aggressive beast when they want to be.
Eluveitie may incorporate Celtic folk influences into their sound, but at their core they are still a metal band. If you were to remove instruments like the mandolin or the Irish flute they would sound quite similar to other melodeath bands like In Flames or Dark Tranquility, but thankfully they are something special and unique in their own right. They’ve made quite the lasting impression with “Slania”. It's sure to please fans of folk, but it has just enough of a bite to win over the average metalhead.