“Slania” by Eluveitie

Artist: Eluveitie
Title: “Slania”
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Release Date: 3/11/2008
Genre: Pagan Folk Metal
Rating: 5/5

Formed in 2002 as a simple side project, the Swiss Pagan Folk Metal band Eluveitie is the latest act to join forces with Nuclear Blast Records and present to the world on a much larger scale their unique brand of Metal. This label debut is actually the bands second album and entitled “Slania” and should you already be a fan of this type of stuff in the rapidly growing genre you will love it, but have you the need for some additional education on the format let’s do a little recap. The Pagan Folk Metal genre is by no means at all new but it has been picking up steam fast and furious over the last couple of years. The scene has given us a number of notable acts that you might already be aware of or even caught live in concert such as Finntroll, Korpiklaani and Ensiferum. To be honest the genre on the whole seems to work hand in hand very well with the Viking Metal style and finds bands like Tyr and Turisas coming off as close second cousins in music. The genre’s appeal can most easily be traced to its interesting blend of Celtic instrumentation and the bands daring to have not only a traditional guitar, bass, drums making up their core. To up the ante and deliver something that much more unique these bands often add and incorporate violins, flutes and even accordion in some cases. The other thing that Folk Metal does very well is bring up the level of atmosphere in the band’s presentation and as you listen there will be instances where the music takes you to faraway lands and times in the distant past. “Slania” opens with “Samon” and this is a crunching intro that reminded me a little bit of something out of the Highlander movies with its epic and sweeping feel. They continue along with “Primordial Breath” and this is a really intricate mixture of Death Metal elements over the Celtic vibe and while many bands have done it before them, it becomes clear that Eluveitie are probably going to be referred to as one of its masters. The release is highly energetic but very different from a band like Korpiklaani who are also on Nuclear Blast Records by the way. That Finnish group is much more “spirited” and they spend much of their time singing of drinking and having fun times. This doesn’t mean that the Eluveitie stuff is any less fun but it is quite a bit heavier than their label mates and they use a lot more of the blast beat drumming, growling vocals and lightning fast guitar riffing while the Folk melodies envelop them. A perfect example of just how well the elements can work together is in the track “Gray Sublime Archon” as it blisters by you at incredible speeds while flutes and pipes are clearly heard in the background. Like I said, this is some really interesting stuff and as each song completes you find yourself eager to hear the next piece.

The band has a rather large lineup which makes them able to deliver such big sounds all the more easily and from the top we have Merlin Sutter (drums), Anna Murphy (hurdy gurdy/vocals), Ivo Henzi (guitar), Chrigel Glanzmann (main vocals/mandolin/acoustic guitar/Tin & Low Whistles/Uilleann Pipes/Gaita), Rafi Kirder (bass/vocals), Meri Tadic (fiddle/vocals), Simeon Koch (guitars/vocals), and Sevan Kirder (Tin & Low Whistles/Irish Flute/Gaita/vocals). Chrigel is the main man behind the group and as you can see sure keeps busy with all the instruments that he plays on the album. There was another facet of the release that I enjoyed and this was in their delivery of truly Celtic pieces that didn’t involve any Metal sound to them at all. With “Anagantios” we find the violins, hurdy gurdy and somber clean vocals chorals added in for good measure. It’s one of the two main instrumental numbers on the album and it’s powerful and moving at the same time. The listener cant even draw a breath of peace after this one because “Bloodstained Ground” is a mixture of Old School Thrash and modern Speed Metal that twists you around and about with a lightly Folk taste. “Somber Lay” reminded me a lot of the way that Dark Tranquility feels and with “Slanias Song” we get to hear some of the enchanting female vocals take more of a front seat while the dark growling male vocals accompany them. The track is sung in Gaulish but don’t worry they make sure to explain it in the liner notes.

This one is a clear winner from beginning to end and I think that it will make a Folk Metal fan out of anyone who gives it only a couple of minutes of listening time. Yes, it’s that good and right on top as one of my favorites for 2008 already. If you are looking for music that is enthralling and interesting while all along being powerfully heavy then Eluveitie is the band to watch out for. Lyrics are included and the subject matter comes off as quite deep but to make sure the band doesn’t leave you confused there is a section in the booklet that lines out their thoughts behind every song. It’s one of those albums where you are hard pressed to find a favorite since so much of it manages to lock in your attention.

Track Listing:
1. Samon
2. Primordial Breath
3. Inis Mona
4. Gray Sublime Archon
5. Anagantios
6. Bloodstained Ground
7. Somber Lay
8. Slanias Song
9. Giamonios
10. Tarvos
11. Calling The Rain
12. Elembivos
13. Samon (acoustic)

Official Website: www.eluveitie.ch

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