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Cnoc An Tursa, you have the black/folk metal concept nailed to a T throughout "The Giants of Auld." In fact, there are few bands that could pull off such an honest and authentic portrayal of lush Celtic melodies interweaving between the harsh and forlorn essence of black metal as yours, and some of the immortal legends in this court such as Cruachan and Primordial would be proud of your conviction and faith. Cnoc An Tursa, you are generally awesome, but we need to have a chat about those vocals. Hardcore-style squawking? Really? I would've placed your vocal leanings somewhere on the shriek spectrum based on the intense folk-infused lead riff kicking off the incredible "The Lion of Scotland." Not to imply you've done a poor job here, Cnoc An Tursa, because you have not. Your work here is splendid for the most part.
Back to formality. "The Giants of Auld" is far from a complicated album in both concept and execution. The record is merely eight folk-based black metal anthems (plus an intro and an instrumental exit) that are all geared in a similar fashion throughout its entirety. A balance between rich, powerful melodies and striking force, Cnoc An Tursa's efforts make no attempt to establish a new government or process within this hybrid sound. They're essentially taking the bull (perhaps giant works better) by the horns and riding it into submission. It's both elegant and mighty: minor keyboards and folk touches graze several heavy and melancholic riffs and melodies mixed with standard extreme metal percussion, but the comprehensive atmosphere is what makes it beyond typical. There's a demanding presence about this piece that's surging through the veins of Cnoc An Tursa's work, and it's an enjoyable performance throughout.
"The Giants of Auld" also shows an abundance of excellent songwriting; it seems this is far from their first game of war. Many songs have a grandiose coating which balances the importance and emotion this fusion between the two worlds demands. Cnoc An Tursa seldom applies anything radically bombastic, and this is actually quite safe and confident—all but two songs hover within a stone's throw of the four-minute ballpark. "The Spellbound Knight" acts as the album's only anomaly in this regard, trucking to almost the seven-minute mark and yielding an unprecedented amount of vigor and passion. It's debatably the finest piece from "The Giants of Auld."
Not to disregard the other anthems, because they, too, are rather poignant and blissful slabs of raw, intricate black/folk metal the way that it was meant to be portrayed. The only thing really derailing this is the hardcore-style screaming, which really has no point or sense in a release such as this; that's my only guff. All in all there's not much variation here but that really isn't much of a botheration. I wouldn't place the efforts of Cnoc An Tursa up to the same echelon as Cruachan's or Primordial's, yet there's enough promise here to proclaim "The Giants of Auld" a very enjoyable and proper release from a band that has nothing to hide.
This review was written for: www.Thrashpit.com