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"Nine Waves From The Shore" is the debut album from Irish horde Celtachor, who through its seven tracks blend the Celtic colour and pride of their homeland into a stirring and at times moving collection of folk-tinged blackened metal that comes across as a po-faced and authentic combination of national heritage and extreme metal. The folk metal landscape has gotten used to seeing bands cull their national musical psyche for influence with results veering from the giddy and drunken (Korpiklaani) to the ridiculous (Alestorm) but here the focus is altogether more serious, although as noted in six-minute instrumental "Tar éis an Sidhe" it is not solely reliant on the guitars/bass/drums to do so. Using acoustic guitars and tin-whistles to lead the charge in the quaint manner of "Tar éis an Sidhe" and "The Kingship of Bodb Dearg", as lead instrument in "The Landing of Amergin" or backed with sounds of battle and sword-on-sword warfare as in "The Battle of Tailtin" there is a confidence in Celtachor's delivery which, whether built upon national and historical pride or a particular assuredness on their instruments, means "Nine Waves…" ends up being a diverse and interesting listen to rank alongside bands like Mael Mordha, Skyclad and Forefather.
Opening with the sound of waves and a driving warcry of a riff in the ten-minute "The Landing of Amergin" is a bold move but the tempo at which the songs plunders along makes for a riveting listen. The tin-whistle is a common feature and adds a similar depth of emotion that Mael Mordha are seen to employ often and which from a personal perspective is a more authentic welcome addition in place of keyboard accompaniment. The production quality of this self-released album, which adds a rough edge to all instruments (in particular the symbal work of female drummer Anaïs Chareyre) and the gravelly howl of Steven Roche, is acceptable to these ears for it emphasises the historical context of the lyrics but is one which will leave cold fans of some of the bigger folk acts mentioned earlier. The bodhran drum of "The Battle of Tailtin" introduces a heavy metal riff into a landscape of crashing drums and Roche's hoarse vocals; "The Kingship of Bodb Dearg" feels the post-battle comedown track to "… Tailtin" before it and in the process displays a considered approach to the feel of each track. The heaviest moments of the record are to be found once "Sorrow of the Dagda" kicks in after an acoustic introduction and a gradual ascent to a battling crescendo but from the half-way point of the ten minute duration the pace drops to more sombre outlook and finishes off as peacefully as it began.
"Conn of the Hundred Battles" and "Anann: Ermne's Daughter" hurry the album to a conclusion, "Anann…" in particular bearing an element of Winterfylleth about the subtle vocal chanting and flashing guitar chords. As a closer it is neatly symptomatic of "Nine Waves From The Shore" as a whole - rough and ready but a varied and welcome addition to Ireland's metal cannon and that of the lagging folk metal genre in general.
Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net