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Oh my god, Eluveitie, my old friends, what have you lads have done? If you know me, you already know that Eluveitie has a special place in my heart. It was the first folk band that I listened. The song was Inis Mona, found in this very record. Since that fated day in the cold nights of October, 3 years ago, the search was on to buy this motherfucking record. Time passes and I manage to find all Eluveitie records, except this one. It’s 2014, and I finally found it (for an outrageous price, but at the time I was so desperate for the thing I would sell my family if I needed to) and played it in my record player.
Was it as good as I thought it was? Yeah, kinda, not really, maybe, eh…
You see; this isn’t the worst Eluveitie record. This lovable prize goes to Everything Remains… as it Never Was. However, it doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws. The first problem is quite apparent form the beginning; the production. These guys never get the production part right. Spirit was badly produced; ERAINW was under produced, and this is overproduced. Only Helvetios managed to hit the stop just right.
How overproduced is this? Remember how everyone said that Fleshgod’s Agony was overproduced, and all one could hear was the drums and some symphonies? This isn’t much different here, except for cellos and violins; there are flutes… and a violin. Another victim of the evil overproduction monster is Chrigel himself, the vocalist. His vocals seem that they passed through dozens of different enhancements, mastering and ways to make it more artificial than skittles sugar coating. It is not to say they are robotic, not at all, but it doesn’t feel right. What does feel right though, is the guitars. A definitive upgrade from the last album, they are quite audible and incredibly catchy. Too bad they are shoved off to the background most of the times to give the stage to the folk instruments; which is good, some flute riffs (is that right to say?) are very good. Nevertheless, a majority of them are booooooring.
Again, not to say that Sevan and the rest of the group are bad musicians, but the folk bits are, most of the times, unimaginative; is as if they were playing “just because”. They made a metal album, with amazing guitars and up-to-par vocals (and a drummer who sounds way louder than he should be) and remembered they were a folk band and recorded some half-assed tunes in the last minute. More often than not, that is what it’s like, but then again, some are pretty good. The fabled Inis Mona, the underrated Slania’s Song and the pounding and destructive Bloodstained Ground have, get this, great folk melodies.
Let me talk about Bloodstained Ground. For two reasons: first, it’s the fastest song here, and second, it’s the best song here. This might be because I love fast-paced songs, but this brings out the best in Eluveitie. The metal part is fantastic; the chorus is amazing, joining flutes, gutturals and double-bass pedal all the while talking about the Battle of Bibracte; Simply delightful. A great example of a bad song is Calling The Rain. The chorus is boring, and the folk part is boring. The metal part, which is the verse, are a little overdone. Chrigel’s vocals ruin fifty per cent of this song.
What is there to talk about, now? How about the Folk interludes: Aganantios and Giamonios. I could say they are boring, but they are well executed and very short, specially Giamonios. When I heard the album for the fifth or sixth time, I just skipped them. They are not too great, but not too bad either.
The album certainly has its flaws, but it is enjoyable in some extents. The best songs are Primordial Breath, Gray Sublime Archon, Bloodstained Ground, Slania's Song, and some sections of The Somber Lay.
After the very weak “Vên” and the schizophrenic “Spirit”, Eluveitie have learned from their mistakes and present the perfect mixture of Celtic folk melodies and Scandinavian death metal. The album follows a clear guiding line and folk and metal elements are on a same and coherent level on this record filled with catchy choruses, beautiful melodies and epic as well as fast paced heavy passages.
The instrumentals like “Anaganthios” are full of beautiful emotions. They sound more profound and convince with simple but efficient melodies.
The heavier tracks also focus more on the folk elements than before and get to a perfect fusion. The catchy metal anthem “Inis Mona” surprises for example with a flute solo instead of a guitar solo while “Grey sublime archon” develops a mysterious and very ancestral atmosphere by exactly giving the same weight to both the electric instruments and the folk instruments. “Slanias Song” is an amazing mixture of folk and metal elements, of male growls and hypnotizing female chants crowned by a haunting and atmospheric middle part and an entertaining tension that is kept throughout almost six minutes. Another amazing song is “Tarvos” that seems to tell an epic medieval story and almost works like a little radio play or movie score without losing its heaviness and without sounding too much like some overwhelming kitsch that bands like “Alestorm” or “Turisas” tend to play.
Even the heaviest songs like the fast paced “Bloodstained ground” preserve the folk elements this time and the band seems to have found the perfect balance on this record and carved their merited place in the long list of modern folk metal bands.
Only a few songs in the end can’t impress. “Calling the rain” should sound more appropriate to its own title topic and finally presents us nothing outstanding and a rather one sided death metal track. The closing “Elembivos” is an interesting folk sound collage with a mysterious atmosphere full of whispering voices and with a great guitar solo but the track turns out to be too long and too repeating overall. But those two rather mediocre final tracks can’t scrap the perfect impressions of nearly three quarters of this very well done record.
Nevertheless, this album can be seen as the climax of a constant development of the band and means the breakthrough of their so-called new wave of folk metal as this record is by far their best album until now.
People have a tendency to take folk metal far more seriously than it was ever intended to be. Witness all of the vitriol directed at Finntroll and Korpiklaani for all 2 of you who don't know what I'm talking about. It's a bizarre phenomenon really, as I don't think anyone ever intended or expected it to ever be elevated much above beer drinking party music. Fuck, Finntroll started as two guys getting drunk and dicking around in a studio. Folk metal was never about brutality or speed, and yet people continue to treat it as if it should. Of course, since metal is supposed to be eternally frowny-faced and/or pissed, I guess I can see why some people have such a problem with this kind of music. Then again, it's no real loss if these type of people don't listen to this stuff, since they're idiots anyway.
Slania is the second Eluveitie (that name is incredibly difficult for me to type correctly, by the way) album, and continues in the tradition of melding decent Gothenburg metal with lots of goofy (in a good way, like all good folk metal) folk instruments and a solid melodic sensibility. Songs in which the folk and metal elements are shared equally, such as the opener "Primordial Breath" as well as standout/single "Inis Mona," are the strongest, whereas the pure Gothenburg and folk tracks are pretty run of the mill, if decent. "Primordial Breath" rumbles along with a solid Amon Amarthian riff and cool little folk bits here and there, while "Inis Mona" really lets loose with the hurdy gurdy and an insanely catchy pre-chorus riff and even catchier chorus.
Christian's vocals are good a bit deeper than the usual Gothenburg rasp, and when the folk and metal mix it's a rollicking good time. Throw this in the stereo, grab a beer (or ale) and a cheap fantasy novel/video game, and you've got a good way to kill an hour or so. And that's honestly all this type of music was ever really made for. It's not supposed to be life-changing and it sure as hell isn't supposed to be brutal. Get drunk and have a blast with your buddies is pretty much the slogan for folk metal.
Unfortunately, not all of the album is able to match up to the first two songs, with the middle in particular dragging quite a bit. Eluveitie seem unsure of where they wanted to go on this album; forsaking more of their Gothenburg influence and giving the folk elements a more integral part of the songs would have made this album much better. It's weird going from goofy, swing-the-ale-along type of songs to generic In Flames worship, and breaks up the spirit of the album in a very distracting way. Eluveitie are talented and have catapulted to the front of the folk metal movement for some inexplicable reason; they're fun, but nowhere near great, which makes their success puzzling, but more power to 'em. While I'd recommend a slew of folk metal bands before these guys, they're decent enough, the production is outstanding, and they might be a good gateway for folks looking for something a little different from the typical Swedish metal affair (yeah they're Swiss, but the metal style is undeniably Swedish).
All in all, not bad
The amount of undeserved praise this album gets is astonishing. Now, while it's obvious that creating an album full of mostly unoriginal, somewhat watered down gothenburg riffs on downtuned guitars, having a bassplayer just for show and getting a vocalist with decent abilities and misusing them, the resulting musical rubbish can't really be called good in any way. To juice this astonishingly mediocre attempt at metal with folk instruments and using some folkish guitar leads here and there apparently sounded like a good idea to these guys, but let's be honest. Average at best gothenburg and celtic folk music are not a very common and certainly not a very good combination, no matter how scarcely the actually folkish parts are sprinkled over the album, especially if no noticeable attempt at actually fusing the styles together has been made. No, playing saccharine, cheesy and extremely mediocre melodeath where good riffs are hard to come by and adding folk instruments on top seemingly just for show doesn't work at all. If the bass player Eluveitie has is only for show, their folk elements are even more so, since they're actually quite audible, but the little interludes aside, there isn't really any folk to be found from ”Slania”. Certainly, many great albums have been recorded using folk elements in metal, but bands like Moonsorrow actually let a respectable amount of folk music in their metal and blend it in a very interesting and very functioning manner, whereas the redundant folk parts of ”Slania” are simply glued on top of the steaming pile that their melodeath is.
The most prominent aspect of ”Slania” is clearly the melodeath. While some folkishness has been brought to the riffing, or at least the guitar leads where they appear, this is essentially melodeath. The interplay between heavy rhythm guitars and drumming, which adds considerable amounts of heaviness to the music (though attempts at brutality, like usually in melodeath, have all failed here) sticks out the most. Moderately high-pitched screams give a lot of aggression to the sound, and there are also some female vocals aswell as chanted male vocals for the softer, supposedly more atmospheric parts. The folk instruments really don't make much of a difference, even less than the bass, which appears to be there solely for the sake of providing more punch to the sound. In that, it succeeded: the guitars have a full tone and sound quite excellent, the drums have punch and are performed with precision, and overall, both the production and the performances are not bad at all, but the production leaves no space for bass other than the modest role of simply complementing the tone, and as a result, there's no way to tell what the bassist is actually doing aside from playing root notes, it's far from satisfying. If Eluveitie did pull off that department decently, the real problems of the album lie in the most important part of the music: the content.
”Slania” is extremely disappointing, but unlike in most cases, it's not because it could've been good. No, it's clear from the beginning that this album was deemed to be this mediocre. It's rather the asinine attempt at blending these styles of which the most prominent one is pulled off with zero inspiration, and how superficial, shallow and irritatingly pointless the result is. The music isn't necessarily boring, and there aren't too many headache-inducing parts (aside from the extreme cheesiness, terrible metalcore parts where the band seems to forget that pseudo-brutal chugging doesn't equal quality or good melodeath, and not to forget the strange rhythmic choices that often seem to draw down the melodeath parts of the music), but the fact that this album offers little of any actual value, so little satisfaction or pleasure other than that of the most instant and superficial type which quickly wears off, that it becomes very irritating to listen to before long. Fans of simplistic melodeath with a gothenburg sound and a metalcoreish edge might find the melodeath insides of this album appealing, at least initially, but it won't take long to realise how redundant and meaningless it actually is. The gimmicky folk elements are little more than a nuisance, and don't improve the music at all, since the core of the music is helplessly mediocre in any light you can look at it. It seems as if the melodeath trivel is there solely to provide a background for the folk metal gimmick so it can be fully displayed, and since no real effort was put into creating metal music with folk elements in it, and the core itself is beyond repair, it's not that hard to guess how low the quality of this album is.
Not everything about ”Slania” is terrible, however. It's not nerve-grating to listen to, really, as long as you can tolerate the recycled and uninnovative riffing and unrelated folk elements bluntly taped on top of it, because it is rather accessible, and while it features rather few good moments (some of the best being in ”Gray Sublime Archon”, where the melodic chorus actually manages to express some emotion and even create something slightly resembling of atmosphere), there are equally few that make your brain hurt. Extremely good production makes the music flow smoothly despite all the blunders and severe lackings in the content, so the album is certainly not painful to listen to. But then, there's really nothing to justify all the hype and praise either. While fellated over their supposedly beautiful blend of celtic folk and melodeath, on ”Slania”, fiddles, flutes and such instruments are simply used for leads like any other instrument could've been, and while they don't necessarily sound bad or out-of-place, they really add nothing at all to the music, other than replacing guitars as lead instruments: the music itself is definitely not folkish, barely even folk metal, and mainly so because of the redundancy of the folk instruments used, and the lack of actual folk in the music itself despite the image it tries to give with all those folky leads and whatnot. It's really quite depressing how the entire concept behind this album keeps digging its own grave deeper and deeper with each listen. It's also saddening that the little quality that ”Slania” has comes from the gothenburg foundations of the music, and while the folk elements aren't really hindering the music, they serve absolutely no purpose either, other than for existing for the sake of existing; making this folk metal, I guess.
”Slania” might be an interesting album to check out if looking for gothenburg with folk instruments, because even if the substance is near nonexistent, it's not something you hear every day. The great production provides a relatively tolerable listening experience despite the lack of quality and originality, and everything is so average and inoffensive that it will hardly make anyone want to kill themselves. As unambiguous and one-dimensional as it is, ”Slania” is definitely an easy album to listen to as long as you can tolerate gothenburg. But is this art? Is there anything of high quality here, or anything really worth mentioning other than the fact that this band plays gothenburg metal with flutes and pipes? The answer is pretty much no. In all its accessibility and ear-friendliness, and even the occasional head-nodding moments, this album has neither anything interesting or terrible, but it's nothing more than a sum of seemingly unrelated and random elements meagerly sewn together in a crude mesh which provides an unremarkable and extremely mediocre whole of old and worn out ideas and something new and moderately unconventional elements in an awkward combination. Needless to say, that doesn't equal innovation, or good music for that matter.
Eluveitie describe their sound as “traditional, authentic Celtic folk music combined in a unique way with modern styled Melodic Death Metal, strongly influenced by the 'Göthenburg Sound.'” The truth here really lies in the reverse, as Göthenburg, rather than being an “influence,” actually serves as the foundation around which all of the other elements on “Slania” have been arranged.
Following a folk introductory track, the album kicks in with melodic riffing and scream vocals that are textbook Göthenburg. Eluveitie are obvious fans of the sound, and they implement it well here. This album is so steeped in the Göthenburg tradition that it could easily be mistaken for early In Flames were it not for the folk elements, which magnificently set this album apart. Fully half of the band's members play traditional instruments on this release, including mandola, fiddle, hurdygurdy, bagpipes, tin whistles, and Irish flute, among others. All of these feature prominently in the arrangements, and, when utilized in conjunction with the female vocals that are interspersed with the the aforementioned Death vox, create a textured, unique approach to Göthenburg.
The integration of folk and metal here can best be described as “layered.” Melodeath riffing and percussion dominate the rhythm, with the folk instruments supplying the melody over the top. In fact, elimination of the folk portions would leave behind a competent and coherent, if somewhat unremarkable, example of Swedish Melodic Death Metal. There is certainly nothing wrong with this approach, and as mentioned, Eluveitie have incorporated these folk melodies to great effect. However, those listeners expecting folk rhythm to make an appearance via the modern instruments a la Finntroll or Korpiklaani may be a bit disappointed.
Overall, Eluveitie have put together a fine release, one that pushes the boundaries of a musical style that has been around for several years. Fans of Göthenburg will enjoy this, and will likely appreciate the band's fresh take on the sound. Fans of folk and pagan metal may like this, but most likely only of they also like Göthenburg.
Let's imagine that In Flames found a bunch of Celtic folk instruments lying around in an attic and decided that they'd try their hand at this folk metal thing that has gotten so popular as of recently. Now, imagine what this personified ideal would look like. To me, it seems like modern melodic death metal and Celtic folk metal's bastard child would look scraggly and unshaven, probably with less teeth than fingers. It would hobble when it walked and would be perpetually slouched over. The rasp of it's smoke damaged voice would be near indecipherable, and it's noxious aura of odoriferous funk would prevent anybody from getting close enough to hear it speak anyways. Now let's imagine blowing him up, say we slipped a small bomb into his half-eaten-and-found-in-the-trash burrito or something. After the chunks of dirt ridden meat finish raining down on the streets of the city, an amateur mad scientist with a scant understanding of human anatomy attempts to stitch him together. This resulting creature stands as my visual representation of Eluveitie, a patchwork entity that is coherent and recognizable, but at the same time disjointed and ugly.
There are tracks like Giamonios and Anagantios that are instrumental Celtic folk pieces, but are then immediately followed by folkless melodeath slabs of aggression like Bloodstained Ground. The blending of the two styles is interesting in theory, considering the two schools of folk metal seem to blend with power metal (Ensiferum and the like), or black metal (every other folk metal band in existence), so it was refreshing to hear this band at first, but the thrill and originality wears off by halfway through the album. I think the Achilles Heel of the album is that in inherited modern melodeath's inability to variate. You hear the same four rehashed In Flames riffs throughout the entire album, and the folk parts get old when you start to know exactly when they are coming and exactly how they will sound. The predictability severely hinders the enjoyment for me. Some bands (*coughRunningWildcough*) can write the same song over and over across 12 albums and remain interesting. But then again, comparing bands to such legends is sort of unfair, but the point remains that Slania isn't really all that interesting when you break it down.
My platypus and homeless Frankenstein comments reference my observation that the majority of the songs do an atrocious job of blending the two styles. They are both there, and they are both prevalent, but no songs apart from the first three are able to blend them seamlessly into each other. It seems like a quilt knitted by Michael J. Fox; the two styles being either thrown in randomly with transitions that that are about as subtle and tasteful as an atom bomb or have some random folk thing going on behind a generic chugging riff. Very rarely are the two integrated into the same coherent whole. I understand that oil and water don't mix, but this is more like trying to mix grape Kool-Aid with lemonade. They are just two different beverages, and while the resulting concoction may not taste wonderful, you don't have to just drink out of separate cups the whole night.
With all of that said, this isn't a bad album. Elembivos, Inis Mona, Sublime Grey Archon, and Primordial Breath are all really good songs, and the patchwork nature of the songwriting doesn't really start bothering you until you hear the In Flames reject called Bloodstained Ground. I gave Slania a passing grade because it is enjoyable, and I occasionally spin it regardless of the shortcomings. I'm sure a lot of people can look past the awful blending of different styles, but something like that is the reason I despise bands like Opeth. If you enjoy folk metal, give it a try, but if you are like me, you'll only get through half the album before you want to headbutt a sidewalk.
Eluveitie is a folk metal band from Switzerland that draws many influences on the melodeath, particularly the Gothenburg melodeath scene. It’s hard to say which is more prominent, the melodeath or the folk, which is good because it’s safe to say Eluveitie, have found the perfect combination of the styles and have definitely mastered this overall sound. Their debut Spirit was an amazing first album and certainly deserved a lot of attention and I thought it would be impossible to top such an album because I considered that near perfect. Now, with the 2008 release of Slania they have done the impossible; they’ve outdone themselves and created what I consider to be a folk/melodeath masterpiece. I told myself after giving out some perfect scores already that I would never do so again nor would I get very close because people give out perfect scores way to often around here, but here I am giving out another 100, because this deserves it, it’s a masterpiece in my eyes and deserves so much credit. I have been searching years for an album like this and finally I have it. Being Irish and very interested in Celtic and Gaulish history as well as typical folk instruments like the fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, Irish flute, and more this is perfect, especially being a big fan of Gothenburg melodeath like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and Nightrage.
Eluveitie have struck gold with this, as I mentioned Spirit was almost perfect and it would be extremely hard to best that, but Slania has upped the ante for all those bands out there; everything about this album is awesome. The instrumental tracks found here are perfect and help to set up and atmosphere of folksy times reminiscent of the days of old, with beautiful folk instruments being the highlight. Samon starts off the album in this way with a perfect flute driven part with the sounds of fire and such in the background. Perfect way of starting off the album, more tracks like this are found throughout the album, Anagantios, Giamonios, and Elembivos all of which are primarily folk driven instrumentals all telling a story about Celtic mythology based on the primary function of the Great Wheel and it’s four stopping points or stations where great feasts are held with Samon being the first. Samon is the heralding of the Winter and dark times that lead to much partying and drinking. Anagantios follows along being a very relaxing and calm track relays a message of being the one after Winter, when the wildlife and mythical one Cernunnos awakes and take helps in the resurrection of life. Giamonios is the shortest of the four with a fiddle in the forefront holding the part of the story of Summer and the thriving time of life. Ending up the four instrumental track and the album is Elembivos being the longest and has a beautiful fiddle solo as well as a guitar solo featuring Jens Bogren to help and create a perfect folk inspired instrumental piece. This tells the ending of the years cycle and when the preparation of Winter begins.
So with the instrumental tracks spread throughout the album it helps in perfectly the folksy atmosphere that is set and needed to creating such a masterpiece of an album. The rest of the album is made up of blazing fast and relentless blends of folk and melodeath songs where melodeath is primary or slower mid paced songs where folk is in the forefront. Very simple formula, but it fucking works and that is what matters here; the songs on Slania are very catchy and highly memorable. Primordial Breath, Inis Mona, and Gray Sublime Archon start the album off in a perfect way with; I remember listening to Primordial Breath the first time and saying it was my favorite Eluveitie song, then Inis Mona came on and I changed my mind, then Gray Sublime Archon came up and changed my mind again; not many albums can do that do that to you and this is one of them. Primordial Breath has some of the best harsh vocals I’ve heard in a while, the guy sounds strained and pained and yet at the same time it works and has some awesome moments and is complimented well with the background chanting. Inis Mona, my personal favorite, rolls on next and straight from the get go you can tell this is going to be a fun song with fiddle in the forefront then leading and complimenting perfectly with the guitars and intense drums. The vocals again are top notch and it’s perfect singing along with, having a very catchy sing along chorus yelling about Inis Mona an isle and the homeland. Gray Sublime Archon as well features a very enjoyable treat to the ears with an epic choral arrangement and fiddle parts. Bloodstained Ground is also something of a treat, being lulled by a beautiful piece like Anagantios, this song comes around full force being the fastest song on here singing about a great battle that was fought between Caesar and the Helvetians many, many years ago. Slania’s Song is a wonderfully beautiful song featuring a female vocalist as well as Gaulish lyrics, how fucking awesome. Tarvos and Calling the Rain are two other faster numbers that are excellent in between pieces seated perfectly between Giamonios and Elembivos. Tarvos being about the ancient mythological beast and it’s story of the beginning of life and the world seasons and Calling The Rain being similar to that of Primordial Breath singing about the beauty of the wilderness and nature.
The musicianship here is stellar as well, top-notch guitar playing that doesn’t sound too flashy or stand out too much over the rest, drumming that matches perfectly from folk to intense melodeath insanity, and a bass that helps in the creating of a heavier rhythm section but nothing special. The folk instruments here are the highlights, featuring two females that are cope well and help to find a perfect balance. The production here is also outstanding, very high quality and polished helping to find a medium in the mixing of two styles that is what is needed for Eluveitie’s sound.
Slania is exactly what I have been looking for in a metal album for a long time, it may not be my all time favorite sub genre of metal (I’m a thrasher), but I’m a sucker for Gothenburg done right and a sucker for Celtic folk so when this is combined in the best way possible I have found something what I’ve been looking for it just took a long time to find it. This isn’t for everyone but fans of melodeath, folk and combinations of the two should like this, as well as anyone interested in Celtic/Gaulish history look no further, this has a perfect telling of the history and popular mythology of their past. I fell in love with Eluveitie with Spirit but I thought them to be just a good band, now I know they are a fucking awesome band and deserve so much credit and attention and have jumped ranks and now are at the top. This is beautiful music that isn’t quite understood by many people, thankfully though I recognize it, also thanks to the booklet that came with the CD containing a lot of the information about the songs and such.
I've noted before in my reviews on this site that folk metal is in most cases some sort of variation on power or black metal. And then to blow all my cosy little suppositions away come the nigh-unpronounceable Eluveitie, an 8-piece all the way from sunny Switzerland, playing a bizarre mix of folk and Gothenburg death metal with Gaulish lyrics.
Their debut CD 'Spirit', released in 2006, was an intriguing, if at times incoherent, blend of 2 disparate styles. There was room for improvement in the songwriting, but the central premise was an intriguing one that left plenty of room to be built upon. 2 years later and the follow-up, 'Slania' is now presented for dissection.
The most immediately notable change is that the 2 styles – folk metal and melodic death metal – are more often than not played separately from one another on individual songs. While the debut CD meshed them together more closely, there are large patches of music on 'Slania' – mostly the verses - where the traditional instrumentalists in the band stand twiddling their fingers while guitarists Ivo Henzi and Simeon Koch lash out modern melodic death metal riffs that stand at odds with the band's more wistful leanings.
While on one hand the songs feel less clustered and more developed, at others they simply feel too sparse. While efforts like "Bloodstained ground" are perfectly serviceable Gothenburg songs, they feel somewhat out of place among the fey atmosphere found elsewhere on the CD and feel more like Dark Tranquillity songs with the keyboards replaced by traditional flourishes.
The bigger triumphs on 'Slania' are the more balanced combinations of heavy guitars and drumming with fully developed roles for the folk instruments rather than leaving them as mere window dressing. "Slania's song" is rousing and atmospheric, with proper interplay between the guitars and the assorted fiddles, whistles and hurdy-gurdies, while "Calling the rain" manages to remain heavy without over-reliance on guitars to do all the work.
The grandiose atmosphere of 'Spirit' has definitely been lost somewhat on this CD, and while it stands well on its own, it feels like the steps taken forward from the debut in becoming more memorable and fluid have been doubled back upon to some extent by the loss of ambience.
While the combination of styles is not always a successful one, it is nice to see a genuine attempt at something different in the increasingly huge folk metal sphere. Eluveitie don't seem to have struck the right balance with their sound yet, but all the components are there for a truly great CD to be seen in the not-too-distant future. 'Slania', like its predecessor, will make a good addition to a folk metal enthusiast's collection, but is not exactly essential listening.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
Usually it takes most bands several albums to find the sound they wish to pursue. However Swiss folk metallers, Eluveitie, seemed to have nailed their niche with their debut album and pushed it even further with their latest offering, Slania. Few bands are able to fuse such quality folk music with such awesome melodic death metal to create something completely original. Maybe it’s the eight members (including two females), maybe it’s the inclusion of countless folk instruments, or perhaps the fact that many of the lyrics showcase the ancient dead language Gaulish. Who knows? Who cares? It works.
Slania offers twelve tracks, three of which are amazing, captivating instrumentals which add nicely to the atmosphere the album successfully creates. Even though Eluveitie, more or less, carry out a formula with their songs they also vary their sound. Examples include the ultra fast Bloodstained Ground, the chanted Elembivos, and the slower and more melodic Slania’s Song.
By reading the title of this review you might be asking yourself, ‘why Dark Tranquillity? Isn’t this a folk metal band?’ Right you are my friends. Perhaps I should address this. Eluveitie is indeed a folk metal band but clearly draw influence from melodic death metal, specifically the Gothenburg scene. I could have put in any band there but if I were to compare them to In Flames I may have scared off some purists. Nevertheless, the melodeth influences are present in pretty much any song. This includes catchy choruses (Inis Mona, Primordial Breath) and aggressive speeds (Bloodstained Ground). An epic guitar solo can also be heard on Elembivos.
There really isn’t much to complain about here. The vocals aren’t very varied but work fine for the music. The guitar is excellent and doesn’t drown out the folk instruments. This isn’t so much of a complaint as a personal wish, but I wouldn’t mind hearing more folk passages as they are my favourite parts of the album. What also deserves mention is the absolutely brilliant album cover. It may not look like much at first glance, but it’s actually among my favourite covers.
All in all Eluveitie have created a great second album with Slania. If you are a fan of folk metal I highly recommend you check this out. If you are not very familiar with the genre, it’s also a good starting point.
Eluveitie has changed a lot since their last album Spirit. Whereas Spirit was more of a melee of the instruments almost fighting to be heard, Slania is much more organized. Now don't get me wrong, Spirit was awesome, but this is much better on my musical mind.
From the first real song(Primordial Breath) everything seems to work like a piece of highly mechanical equipment. Each instrument is extremely important and every part has it's part to shine in. There is a nice chorus in the background, which is easily heard over the lead singer, but doesn't drown him out.
Unlike the first album the guitars have some real work in this album, with a few good solos sprinkled throughout the album. The beauty of this album is that you aren't just going to hear guitar solos. When listening to this album you hear flute, violin, and a variety of different instruments solos. This nice mix of solos is best heard in Inis Mona where, for about a minute you hear some nice guitar, followed by a flute solo, and then a variety of hard to name instruments all shining brilliantly.
As if I haven't written it enough, the flow of this album is really nice. It's interrupted by one quiet intermission, but that intermission only adds to the build of the album. The album manages to string together the fast and slow, short and long, loud and soft very well, which is exceptionally hard to do.
The vocalist is a major part of how well these songs string together. His range in singing, screaming, and even whispering manage to keep the songs on their path to greatness. A less talented vocalist, and this album could and probably would be ruined. The rest of the band prove to be good vocalists as well.
I haven't mentioned the drummer yet, and that is because he is decent, but hardly noticeable. The album is so filled with sweet combinations, that it is hard to focus on the drummer, but if you really try to hear him, you'll find he's good.
This is a must buy for any folk fan.
I can't even begin to express how amazing this band is, and their sophomore album "Slania" really shows the world that these guys were born to lead the folk metal movement.
Right off the bat, they bring out the phenomenal celtic melodies that keep a lot of people coming back for more. The inclusion of instruments like tin whistles adds a lot, but we'll get to that a bit later.
This album offers 12 tracks of perfectly blended melodeath and celtic folk. Funny to note: the songs with non-English titles tend to leave more towards the folk side, and the English-titled songs lean towards an almost metalcore-sounding melodeath.
The guitar work and drumming isn't anything particularly special; if you're looking for stellar melodeath instruments, don't look here. But, who listens to Eluveitie for those instruments anyway? Sure, there are a few great riffs on the album, but nothing you haven't heard a million times before in bands like At The Gates, In Flames, or even As I Lay Dying. Then, all of a sudden, some random wild folk instrument you can't even name breaks in and instantly captivates you.
The vocals aren't particularly interesting either, but fit really well with the whole blend. Typical melodeath/metalcore vocals are in abundance here. A few songs such as "Inis Mona", "Slania's Song", and "Grey Sublime Archon" have great, folky, clean-sung passages that steer the album away from complete vocal monotony.
The track "Calling the Rain" deserves its own paragraph here. To be honest, I don't know for sure that I have ever heard a better song. Opening with one of the catchiest melodies in metal, it soon breaks into a awesome melodeath song, undeniably climactic and energetic. The metalcore verses might deter some metal elitists, but, being a huge metalcore fan myself, I thought they fit perfect into the track. If you don't feel like listening to this album, at least do yourself a favour and get this track.
So, in conclusion, what we have here is a flawless mixture of melodeath metal, folk metal, and metalcore, with many a catchy melody to boot. The metalcore leanings may deter some of the band's early fans or anti-core fans of the genre, but any fan of metalcore will love this album, I can almost guarantee. Folkcore? God, I hope this trend catches on.
An early contender for album of the year.
The title pretty much sums up the album. Thanks for reading my review.
All jokes aside, there’s actually a lot of truth in the previous sentence. Slania is basically folk music, melodeath and Gaulish vocals put together in twelve songs. The formula is simple, but it works. Oh and for everybody with an IQ lower than 5, Gaulish is the language the people in France used to talk before Caesar came along and arsoned, murdered and raped everybody (in that exact order) he came across. Anyway, the vocals are a combination of melodeath styled singing and ‘epic’ war chants. Both of these styles are done well, especially the ‘epic’ parts, which made me want to jump up and start running around naked while swinging a battle axe. The production is as tight as a baby’s vagina, and can be described as near to perfect. I’m sure a crappy producer/mixer would have ruined the band’s sound, and I’m glad this is not the case. A clear mix was chosen, which is a good thing because all the instruments can be heard. Blurry/raw production would surely have ruined this album.
Drums are also very satisfying, providing a good transition between folk and metal. Guitar parts are cool as well, though not a highlight on the album. Think In Flames ten years ago -but less complex- and you get an idea of how the melodeath parts sound like. There are a couple of great riffs scattered across the album and even a good solo in ‘Elembivos’. The tone Kenzi and Koch use is quite similar to what something Alexi Laiho might have chosen for, on the early Bodom records. The bass is a bit of a let down, because Rafi Kirder simply follows the rhythm parts.
Greatest feature on the album are without a doubt the folk instruments. Hurdygurdys, flutes, whistles, fiddles, bodhrans (don’t ask), uillean pipes (again, don’t ask), etc. If you have ever heard Celtic music you know how they sound like, though most original Celtic music is a lot slower than this. Good stuff. To be honest, I’d like to have seen less melodeath and more folk! Nonetheless the combination of these two genres sounds great, particularly on the first half of the album. If you’re not familiar with folk metal, this is a great place to start.
So, I recommend this album to anybody who likes melodic death metal, or anybody who likes folk metal. I was never a huge fan of any of these genres, and I still love this album. That being said I also recommend this album to anybody who is interested into hearing how metal and folk can be combined in a good way. I’m pretty sure this formula has been used many times before, and is not original … but it’s a great place to start. I'm not giving a higher rating simply because there's too much melodeath and because the formula employed to create the album is not original or new.