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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.