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Their first, their best - 76%

andhakaraha, March 25th, 2013

Back in 2006, Eluveitie weren't the force they are now, but they managed to come up with this decent folk metal album. After the disappointing EP, Ven, this one seemed to find a blend of folk, metal, and production they were looking for. I was afraid having nine members to record an album would ruin its integrity, however the Celtic melodies and metal go together quite nicely. It's ambitious, I'll give them that. No other band has attempted folk metal with this much percentage of a folk element.

They didn't sign onto major record label yet, so the production is not over-polished. It feels rich and all the instruments are heard optimally, all except the bass guitar, that is, but that's pretty much a feature nowadays. How about the guitars? Well, unlike later albums, the guitar riffs don't sound as repetitive and lackluster. Some even stand out, like the opening pounding riff of "Uis Elveti" and midway through "Siraxta", but there aren't too many that are worthwhile as well. They score 50/50 is all I can say.

The basic pattern you'll find with this band is a melodic death metal base with Celtic instruments playing melodies over them, and there's a whole bunch of them alright: flutes, whistles, violins, a hurdy gurdy, fiddles, mandolins, and a few more I don't really care to mention. But these are what give this Swiss band their unique sound. I can't think of any other band that uses so many. The folk parts are truly memorable on this record. "Your Gaulish War", "Tegernako", and "The Dance of Victory" are prime examples. Fiddles and whistles weave in and out of songs fairly well, giving a sense of purpose. Maybe a tad overdone, but still driving the album forward. The bagpipes and hurdy gurdy don't fall far behind.

The range of sounds is impressive and even subdues the metal in some tracks like "Andro" (the instrumental). Perhaps the tin whistles deserve the most credit. Present in almost every song, they bring images of Celtic highlands and constantly race away with melodies, enriching the album. They are performed by Chrigel Glanzmann, who also handles vocals. His voice isn't the most powerful, nor does it stand out. It's standard melodeath with the occasional (and rather poor) attempt at a deeper death growl. Don't expect a great deal from him. Be forewarned, he can shift his vocal style abruptly, which can get on your nerves. Oh yeah! He sounds horrendous live.

Then there's the female vocalist who makes an appearance on Siraxta and the choruses on some songs. She has no range and was subsequently replaced. Why they insisted on her singing is a little bit of a mystery. Speaking of the choruses, I guess they threw some in there to be catchy. Some work, though, and a few others don't.

In the rhythm section, the drumming maybe the most competent traditional metal component. It's fast and keeps the rhythm flowing. Could do with a few more decent fills, though. I do confess, however, double bass assaults get a little old as we move further into the album.

As for guitar leads and solos - simple, there aren't any real ones at all! The dozen folk instruments handle that department. Songwriting skills aren't really up there as ideas that come across as innovative dry up a little too quickly. Among the songs, variety is somewhat lacking. Most tracks sound similar. Fast and folksy, if you like. There is an instrumental which is well-done and an interlude of sorts, but not much else. "The Endless Knot" is pointless, if you ask me. It's slow and meanders through passages without going anywhere in the end.

On the up side, there are 3 standouts - the crushing "Uis Elveti", the flourish of "Your Gaulish War", and the epic "Tegernako", which packs acoustic guitars, riffs, and great (folk) leads into a fine track to claim top spot. The other tracks don't quite sum up to such quality, I'm afraid to say.

The lyrics...what are they about? I'd talk about the lyrics if I could, but looks like they are more or less based on Celtic stories and legends like any of their other albums, and some are even in Gaulish, a language I haven't the slightest clue about.

So all in all, a good effort and pretty much the best they got. The folk stuff is probably as good as it gets. They need more imagination, surely. A little more metal and little more refined songwriting might benefit these guys a lot. Still, this album is worth a casual listen for most metalheads and can impress because of its ambition and folk appeal.

Choice cuts: "Tegernako", "Uis Elveti", and "Your Gaulish War".

Downsides: too few riffs, songs become repetitive after awhile.

The Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde record - 72%

kluseba, May 4th, 2011

After the horrible and definitely spiritless first output “Vên”, the folk metal band from Switzerland put out their first full length album and called their style the New wave of folk metal in allusion to the legendary New wave of British heavy metal. Even though this characterization seems somewhat overrated and even megalomaniac to me and even though we can’t truly talk about something new because way too many folk metal bands emerged throughout the past years, this album is numerous times better than the first output. But one can’t call this record the pinnacle of folk music. Basically, we have death metal with some flutes on this record and a few more relaxed and shorter songs. If you want to discover truly beautiful and inspiring folk music, I suggest you to check out bands such as “Ulver “and “Empyrium” or the more commercial and hyped stuff like “Elvenking”, “Turisas” and “Tyr” or the harder stuff like early “Cruachan” and “Manegarm”. Some German medieval metal bands like “In Extremo” or “Saltatio Mortis” are also worth to be checked out if you’re interested in original folk rock or metal music. Eluveitie are amongst the weaker bands of this quite diversified and widely spread genre but still better than modern and stereotypical joke bands like “Swashbuckle” or “Alestorm”.

The positive thing about this album is first of all an improved sound which we can hear on “Uis elveti” right on from the start. The song is a new recording from the first output and sounds more dynamical and authentic. The folk instruments sound fresh and the musicians have improved their skills. The choirs sound convincing and mystical and not as ridiculous as on the previous release. The guitars, bass and drums do a more technical and elaborated job and are at the same time able to create a little bit more atmosphere and tension as in the first album. Especially the singer has improved his vocal skills and varies more than before. The band made a big step forward and that was a highly necessary thing to do. The difficult mixture between Scandinavian melodic death metal and Celtic folk melodies works pretty well in a couple of songs like the new recording of “Uis elveti”, the following “Your gaulish war” and the epic and diversified “The endless knot” which is not only the longest but at the same time the best track on here.

The negative point is that this mixture tends too often too much towards the death metal influences rather than towards the pretty folk melodies. “Siraxta” is such a case as it is a track that starts with mystical and inspiring choirs. The well developed atmosphere is completely abandoned when aggressive vocals come in, guitars shred over the flutes and the drums seem to play fast placed tennis in the background. “Tegernako” mixes chilling folk passages with nice fiddles and flutes with high speed melodic death metal passages but while the song is diversified and surely interesting to listen to this mixture doesn’t fit and isn’t coherent at all. It sounds as if someone would hear a song from “Cruachan” or “Skyclad” and another one from “In Flames” or “Dark Tranquility” in the same room at the same time. It’s a little bit annoying to concentrate on this extreme mixture.

To keep it short, this record overrules the horrible first record that any possible fan should skip and begin with this record. It is not as brilliant as the upcoming “Slania” that really mixed both sides of the band in a coherent way by creating catchy death metal tunes with strong folk and power metal influences but “Spirit” can be interpreted as a good effort and transitional album between the worst and best phases of the band. In the end I would only suggest buying this record to the faithful fans that really adore this band but one should not believe the hype and think that this album is something outstanding or revolutionary. It’s though pretty well done and pretty well done when the band decides to focus on either the folk or the death metal side. When they do both, it gets a Doctor Jekyll and Mister Hyde record with schizophrenic touches. It’s an interesting thing to observe and analyze but surely not anybody’s thing and as heavy to digest as a Celtic “menhir” or monolith.

A Pinnacle In Folk Metal Bombast - 89%

Crank_It_Up_To_666, June 10th, 2008

Bloody hell, what left field did this come out of then?

Eluveitie, regardless of whether you can get on board with what they do or not, are a band doing something very unique within the folk metal genre. While admittedly excellent bands such as Finntroll and Korpiklanni underscore their Celtic influences with a basic, almost punkish heavier edge, Eluveitie are a band apart in their approach to the genre – they instead choose to merge their passion for hurdy-gurdies, tin whistles and accordions with a brand of melodic death metal on a par with bands like Dark Tranquillity and their melodious ilk.
‘Spirit’ is an album that takes the ideas that the aforementioned compatriots have frequently indulged but never pushed as far as it may go, and, well, pushes it as far as it may go. To anyone who thought the likes of Turisas, Tyr and Ensiferum provided music that inspired you to raise fists, horns and beers all into the air, or jig until your limbs collapsed from the strain, well, Eluveitie will do all that and more.

The metallic aspect of the band is one that has seen far more development and depth put into it – guitar work here is the not the chordal crashing favoured by many of the aforementioned groups but instead, full on, even memorable riffs are introduced into the mix (‘Your Gaulish War’ and ‘The Song Of Life’), backed up by solid, shifting bass lines and complimented with drumming that is given, through rolls and fills and varied patterns, an additional complexity to the usual straightforward drive. Admittedly, they are not at the level of technical ability of the melodic deathsters by which Eluveitie are clearly inspired, but at a level of ability that raises them above the bands many on first listen will view as their contemporaries.
As for the much lauded folk elements, they are what lend the material its true stand-out excellence – which considering the enormous proliferation of unusual instruments sourced is frankly to be expected. Many albums that make use of numerous unconventional instruments (not least a full on orchestra) disappoint because they allow these elements to be subsumed by the overbearing metallics – Eluveitie let every Irish flute, acoustic guitar and bodhram ring out clear and plain in the material, which the crystal clear production fully compliments throughout.

What is also refreshing about the use of such instruments is that it, too, progresses beyond the usual. Folk instruments, when heard in Finntroll’s ‘Trollhammeren’ or Korpiklanni’s ‘Happy Little Boozer’ are primarily used to create an additional hook, built specifically and solely for the purpose of getting a drunken dance going. Eluveitie certainly engage in this – the almost leit motif stylings found on ‘Your Gaulish War’ and the astoundingly good ‘Tagernako’ being the best examples – but use the instruments for other melodies, bridge parts and introductions. ‘Spirit’ in short is record that brings a degree of freshness to the genre, advancing it beyond what its inspirations have achieved.
It is hardly a perfect album of course; the vocals are perhaps the weakest point, being barely exceptional or memorable and playing a decided second fiddle (pardon the pun) to the music. While it is a revelation to hear melodeath attached so seamlessly to such thoughtfully composed and executed folk, the distinct impression is that were the two aspects were separated the metal would still be of a decidedly unremarkable nature – in other words each distinct part of Eluveitie’s sound would fall flat without the other.

‘Spirit’ is an album of intrigue simply because it is an album built for drinking to and for introducing the listener to new avenues of possibility within that branch of the folk metal genre. An album that has, despite its flaws, charms that are damn near impossible to resist, ‘Spirit’ deserves a place in any record collection for providing such an irresistibly good and fun listen.

What is that, A tuba? - 95%

3aboood, February 13th, 2008

Surprisingly no, It's a Hurdygurdy. Yes you read it right! Played by Anna from Eluveitie.

Folk musicians emerge in the metal scene day by day but one artist truly holds their place as kings of modern folk metal, Eluveitie. Most of you might know them from their 2006 release Spirit with flutes and violins in the background, fast yet melodic guitars and smashing drums. Who wouldn't enjoy it!

Having heard Spirit many times over the 2 year period, it has struck me well enough to blindly know that a track played is Eluveitie. Their unique sound and instrumentals are hard to match. With Slania's promo disc leaked on the web, I've managed to have a listen.

Spirit starts off with an astonishing instrumental track named after the album, Spirit, full of flutes, folk-ish tunes and pounding drums. This track sets the mood for the album, showing the combination of different instruments in the metal genre.

The following track, Uis Elveti, has truely amazed me. What a great way to start off an album! The track slowly gets into tune by the first minute, as it nears the beginning of the second minute, the track begins to slow down and a blast beat pounds through the subwoofer! After listening to this track, a person should be convinced that this band holds the skill to make perfect folk metal. Thus named, The New Wave of Folk Metal. Although I have bad experiences with NEW WAVES OF METAL, one word will clear this up, Darkthrone. Or is it two words? Nevertheless, Eluveitie have truly shown what they're capable of.

Moving on to the third track onwards, one paragraph could explain them. How the harsh vocals blend in with the folk-ish tunes is a highlight in Eluveitie's music along with the instrumentals. The production is simply amazing, the tunes are more than enough to get you to bang your fucking head!

Aidu is one of the instrumental tracks in the album, which features flutes and female vocals. It acts as an amazing intro to the following track, The Song Of Life, which is a fast tempo-ed track with great riffs, harsh vocals and pounding drums.

Further more, the tracks in Spirit could be told apart from the other tracks. Meaning, all the tracks don't sound the same or aren't monotonous. The sudden acoustic/classical, down-tempo change in the tracks is what gets my hair on my arms stand up. Overall, I'm impressed!

Highlights: Tegernako, Aidu, Your Gaulish War, Of Fire, Wind and Wisdom

Makes you want to yell "FREEDOOOOM!!!" - 95%

Damnation_Terminated, December 14th, 2007

This is the sort of music William Wallace would have listened to! You can absolutely guarantee that Wallace and his gang of crazy rebels would have had fun in a kilt-filled mosh pit just before going out to fight the English. One might even say that his army had a band similar to Eluveitie following them, just to psych them up before battle. And as he died, Wallace raised his hand in the metal sign and yelled "METAAAAAAAL!!!!!"

OK, so maybe that didn't happen (although Braveheart would have been an even more kick-ass film if it had been like that!), but with Spirit, Eluveitie have managed to capture the awesome epic feel and celtic folk sound that you get on the Braveheart soundtrack, and fuse it brilliantly with fast paced melodic death metal, to create a truly unique sound. I am a big fan of the folk metal sound, and I think Eluveitie have managed to top that genre with a slight sub-genre in itself - celtic metal!

Yes I know that there are other celtic metal bands out there, but none of them manage to pull it off quite so well. With "Spirit" you can actually imagine the band stood on top of a glen, with haggis, whisky and kilts, writing songs and music to get ready for recording (despite them being from Switzerland!).

Musically, Spirit has it all. The album soars from fiddle and flute to pipes, whistles and even a hurdy gurdy, combining effortlessly with guitars, bass and fast drumming. Songs like "Tegernako" and "Of Fire, Wind and Wisdom" are excellent examples of this, with death growling vocals, heavy fast guitars and drums blended beautifully with the celtic folk instruments. But the band also has a softer side, and female vocals come into play fairly often, calming the listener down just before the next blast of awesome metal.

I cannot recommend this album enough and I have even had some non-metal friends show an interest in it, as they seem to think of metal is some guy choking on a microphone while someone else murders their instruments. If you're into any kind of metal, you will probably appreciate this album and I defy any of you not to start jigging up and down at some point in the album.

If you'll excuse me for some reason I really feel like I need a glass of scotch right now...

Good Celtic folk metal - 75%

BloodIronBeer, December 14th, 2007

Eluveitie are a folk metal band with a stock of wind and string instruments gracing their music. Most of them are Gaelic or Celtic in origin, and a couple of them are not familiar to me. This band seems to me to function better in the folk area rather than the metal area.

The instruments exploited really help to pronounce the Celtic theme. You can make a riff sound pretty Irish with fiddle, but when you have the aid of the distinct timbre of Irish bagpipe and tin whistle you can start summoning lepurchans.
With their continual presense and large role in the music, these instruments make for music that can be identified as folk before metal.

The songs keep to a basic structure and rely on textures more than musicianship. Intricate writing is not necessary to make you tap your foot and nod your head to nearly every song.

My gripes would be that the production is a bit sterile, the vocals are generic and when they do put the "metal" into overdrive it's got a large tint of melodic death metal on it. But overall, it's worth investigating if you're looking for really authentic sounding Celtic metal.



{Originally written for http://www.metalcrypt.com}

The best Celtic Metal you'll hear. - 97%

Largos, December 14th, 2006

When it comes to folk metal, the differences between each band can be huge. When you know that a band will be power, few differences can be found. But folk music it's unique in each place of the world, even there are some similarities between some places.

This band plays celtic metal. And I really love celtic music. Like metal. So each band I found that manages to merge celtic folk with metal has to be mine. But I haven't yet found any band nor album that manages to show the full potential of celtic metal. Cruachan are the most famous, but they just play classic celtic tunes with some growls and metal instruments and sound. Tuatha De Danann are too soft, being like Elvenking, more of a power metal band with some flutes and the like. Mägo de Oz and Saurom Lamderth have some celtic influences and sounds in their music, and I really enjoy the Mägo de Oz covers of some celtic songs, but they are too diverse to be considered pure celtic metal.

But now, we have Eluveitie. This band plays something like death/black metal merged with celtic music, using many folk instruments. That list is very big compared with the other bands, which I don't think any of those even used more than 5 different folk instruments. Eluveitie played 12 folk instruments, plus the metal ones. So you can't deny the sound will not be monotonous on the album.

For example, let's take the opener. Celtic intro, and then a song with a very heavy riff plus folk instruments. On the solo, you may recognize the melody if you have heard some more celtic music before. I'm not expert, but the band that comes to my mind on, not only that solo, but most songs, is Lúnasa. That band plays classic celtic tunes, and they are Irish. And you can't be more celtic than anyone from Ireland.

So well, classic Irish celtic folk tunes merged with the harshness of death metal, and sometimes even with black metal blastbeats. Did they succeed? Yes. Now, I won't even compare them to Cruachan, since they are as different as the day and the night. Cruachan just were a band that played half time celtic music and half metal, but when they merged both, it looked like a mess, very artificial.

Enough of their music. If you don't have good songs to backup, it doesn't matter. But Eluveitie has, and a lot. The album is 50 minutes long, and in folk metal that is enough, since folk metal albums are usually short. And there are no bad songs, no filler. I have some preferences, like Uis Elveti, Tegernakô and The Dance Of Victory. And the ones who don't like nonmetal may not like Aidu, being almost entirely celtic, without any heaviness. The album still has not any filler, and the highlight are very subjective, since the quality never drops.

Overall, an amazing debut, and the best celtic metal album I've ever heard. The only other album that has this quality is Caledonia from SuidAkrA, but since they are more of melodeath with celtic music than celtic music with metal, Eluveitie has the crown of the best celtic metal band ever. Recommended to any folk metal fan, celtic or not.