Horslips
The Book of Invasions: A Celtic Symphony


4.0
excellent

Review

by e210013 USER (181 Reviews)
December 14th, 2021 | 20 replies


Release Date: 1976 | Tracklist

Review Summary: One of the best Irish prog albums, if not the best.

“The Book Of Invasions – A Celtic Symphpony” is the sixth studio album of Horslips and was released in 1976. The line up on the band is Charles O’Connor, John Fean, Jim Lockhart, Barry Devlin and Eamon Carr.


Horslips was an Irish progressive folk rock band founded in Dublin in 1970 as a quintet playing a brand of folk based rock music whose only parallel could be found in the early works of the British folk rock band Fairport Convention. But, where Fairport Convention freely mixed the British and the American folk rock traditions, Horslips drew on their distinctly Irish roots, and were capable of playing their straight folk material when the moment was called for it, but they never were afraid to turn it up loud and hard, in the most best art rock style. Horslips arranged and performed songs frequently inspired by the traditional Irish airs jigs and reels. Horslips is regarded as one of the “founding fathers of the Celtic rock” for their fusion of the traditional Irish music with rock and inspired many local and international music acts.

Formed in 1970 and retired in 1980 for an extended period, they returned in with a new album “Roll Back” in 2004. At one point in the mid of the 70’s, it seemed that Horslips could have been the Ireland’s answer to Jethro Tull, but it never happened, really. But, Horslips released half-a-dozen of good albums along the way, especially “The Táin” and “The Book Of Invasions – A Celtic Symphony”. They became Ireland’s most acclaimed folk rock progressive band. Although Horslips had limited commercial success when the band was playing in the 70’s, there was a revival of interest in their music in the late 90’s. Horslips became to be regarded as one of the defining bands of the Celtic rock genre, indeed.

So, Horslips had released five studio albums before “The Book of Invasions - A Celtic Symphony” was released in 1976. Returning to their original formula of rock & roll, folk, and prog rock, “The Book Of Invasions - A Celtic Symphpony” rivals with their second studio album “The Tain” released in 1973, as their most consistent and creative work, and established the band as that decade’s preeminent purveyor of those three entwined genres. This is an album loosely based on the “Book Of Invasions”, which is a 12th century compilation of legends regarding the settling of Ireland where the Fomorians then the Tuatha de Dannan and finally the Sons of Mil or Milesians or Gaels won the Irish island.

Before “The Book of Invasions - A Celtic Symphony” the band had experimented with various permutations of rock, Irish folk and Celtic mythology on their previous albums, but it was on “The Book Of Invasions – A Celtic Symphony” that everything gelled with the long cherished idea of creating a classical symphony from these components, a true concept album about “Invasions”. It’s split into three movements and it has a leitmotif which crops up throughout the album in various guises. In the old Ireland there were three principal categories of songs, called Geantrai, Goltrai, and Suantrai (the joyous strain, the lamenting strain, and the sleep strain). The same happens with this album. It consists of no less than fourteen songs divided into three lengthy movements. The first one, “Geantrai”, runs for over twenty minutes. The songs in this movement are tied together by an old traditional tune that appears several times between the tracks. The songs in this piece were some of the strongest the band ever had, “Trouble With A Capital ‘T’”, “The Power And The Glory” and the stunning “Sword Of Light” that must be one of the best fusions of rock and traditional Irish folk music ever recorded. The second movement “Goltrai” opens with the light weighted but catchy “Warm Sweet Breath Of Love” that goes into the instrumental theme “Fantasia - My Lagan Love”. The best song in “Goltrai” is still the excellent “King Of Morning, Queen Of Day” that is another excellent example of the band’s talent for turning a traditional jig into their own compositions. The third and final movement, “Suantrai” starts with the pleasant “Sideways To The Sun” that is based on an old traditional Irish ballad. “Drive The Cold Winter Away” is an instrumental interlude that leads into the far and a bit more aggressive “Ride To Hell” that closes this amazing album of Horslips in the best way possible, really.


Conclusion: This album was the chart highpoint for Horslips in the UK and although they were popular in the USA, the band split in 1980. I’m not saying “The Book Of Invasions - A Celtic Symphony” is a perfect album, but it does have its perfect moments. So, especially and at a time when everything can be found online, it would be a shame that you miss this great album. The scope of the album is quite breathtaking. The Irish mythology rubs up against folk melodies, rock arrangements, symphonic themes and a huge range of instruments and bags of style to create a genuine classic album. There are some catchy riffs and melodies and some good hard rock in too and bits and pieces of tradition tunes. Like many bands from this era, Horslips reformed for selected gigs in the 90’s, but they can still be seen live occasionally. If you’re into rock or folk or both and you haven’t heard this before, you really should give it a listen. It’s recommended.


Music was my first love.
John Miles (Rebel)



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user ratings (44)
4.1
excellent


Comments:Add a Comment 
e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Since we are in the Christmas time, I decided that my two last reviews of this year will be softer and melodic, than the previous ones that were definitely darker.

So, as the first one, I chose "The Book Of Invasions – A Celtic Symphpony" of Horslips. Horslips is probably the best Irish prog band and this album is considered by many their best work. Horslips combined rock, folk/rock and light progressive rock in a very inteligent, interesting and effective way and "The Book Of Invasions" is a great album with some truly excellent moments. This is an album for those who fancies themselves as a sucker for the Celtic folk/rock, the Celtic folk/rock at its best.

So, I hope you can enjoy this album as much I do. And, as a complement, for all those you liked this album I advise you to check their album "The Táin". It isn't as prog as this one is but still is a great album.

Jethro42
December 14th 2021


16871 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Even if I abused of this album, I never got tired of it. It's catchy, toe-tapping kind of prog music. Evokes soft winter mornings to me. Nearly perfect. I'll revisit The Tain for fun.

Will read your review asap

e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I knew that. I knew that you love this album, it seems more than me. I think it deserves to be recorded with a second review. I hope you like the review too.

e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

And it's a pity that only you appear with a comment, till now, with an album with more than 40 ratings on Sputnik. But, these are the times we live here on Sputnik nowadays, I think.

e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"But, these are the times we live here on Sputnik nowadays"

I want to mean that the prog rock music is living really tough times on this site.

Atari
Staff Reviewer
December 14th 2021


27103 Comments


I remember really digging this but it's been years now so thanks for the reminder

Digging: Mos Def - Black on Both Sides

e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Be my guest pal. It was a pleasure.

Jethro42
December 14th 2021


16871 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Yes, I can hear you, my friend. Despite your efforts and contributions, prog rock is not very popular anymore in here. There were time where progheads were all over the place, but now they kinda disappeared pretty much. But I can tell you; since you have at least one visitor, your reviews have reasons to live. Let's hope your reviews will make a difference in Progland. It does sometimes though.

e210013
December 14th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Let's hope that. And again, thanks for your support my friend. Keep on proggin'.

Jethro42
December 14th 2021


16871 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

@Atari, give it another spin, it's amazingly good.



You're welcome, e21.

TheIntruder
December 15th 2021


578 Comments


I read great things about this band and album. I am going to check it soon as I can and read the review.

e210013
December 15th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice, pal. I really think you should do so. You'll see that you aren't going regret.

MrSirLordGentleman
December 15th 2021


14828 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

excellent job bro!



a great and unique album



rules!

Jethro42
December 16th 2021


16871 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Good review, e21. You're right, The Tain is an highlight to their discog. Will listen to it couple times before giving it a possible higher rating.

Divaman
December 16th 2021


13767 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I've actually never listened to this band. I guess I should, huh? Nice job, e.

e210013
December 16th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Gentleman. It's really great and unique. It's always a pleasure to talk to you, pal.

e210013
December 16th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks Jethro. But, besides The Táin, from what I know, I think Dancehall Sweethearts is also great and deserves to be checked too. I put it in my list.

e210013
December 16th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I think you're going to like them Diva once you like folk in general. I think you can check the three albums mentioned by me, by this order: The Book Of Invasions, The Táin and Dancehall Sweethearts. The three deserve we spend some time with them.

And thanks for the pos, pal.

TheIntruder
December 17th 2021


578 Comments


I liked it. I think it is a very original album. I became curious with their other albums mentioned by you. Nice review with a very interesting reading. So, pos.

e210013
December 17th 2021


3783 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Nice. Yeah, check those albums too, if you can. I'm sure you'll not regret. And thanks, dude.



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