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Vên was released in 2003 and its production quality is somewhere between a demo and an EP (the same set of songs became more or less the Vên EP a year later on, so you might as well regard this as a fnished EP). The drums sound rather horrible, the distortion on the guitar likewise, and where most demos have a hard time balancing the sounds of 4 or 5 instruments, this demo has (by my counting) 18 instruments crapped into only 6 songs. And if that wasn't enough, some of those instruments are a nightmare to record properly, since they have been used since the dawn of.. well, a long time ago.
One of the redeeming factors for this demo is its sincerity. Eluveitie, unlike many other bands in the folk-metal domain, take their music very seriously. No sign of drunken dance-on-the-tables songs or any beer-and-women dances on this first effort by Chrigel Glanzmann, the main force behind Eluveitie. The title of the first track, D'Vêritû Agâge D'Bitu (translated as “truth against the world”), is even one of Chrigels tattoos. In Lament for example, he questions the world today as he sings “What if there would not be a state church, built upon hypocrisy, instead of faith?” The fact that some lyrics are in the “Helvetian language” doesn't do it any bad either.
As for the music itself, there is a lot of variety to be found, within those 24 minutes. From fast paced metal music (Uis Elveti, Druid) to slow folk (Ôrô). Though the guitar riffs and drum patterns are nothing special, the rest of the music is. There are a lot of effects, and a lot of sounds not typically found in metal. There are a bunch of guest musicians who I reckon only play their particular medieval instrument, and that gives the music at least something interesting. It's a shame some of the ideas were never properly recorded in later efforts, e.g. the violin solo, about 40 seconds into Lament is pretty neat and was never put on a full-length later on. Chrigels vocals are pretty amazing too. Love it or hate it, his screams are unique and became a bit of a trademark for Eluveitie in later years. It's convincing to say the least. The music is balanced between folk and metal, but that makes it a bit of a problem. There's more “world music” in this one, than in most other folk-metal albums. Don't pick this one up if you expect metal with “just a pinch of folk”.
All in all, this demo is quite good, taking into account it's only a first demo. The only reason I didn't give it a higher score is because of the guitars and especially the drums that could've been done more interestingly in my humble opinion. Either way, a solid start for a now well-known band in the pagan scene.
Uis Elveti (only song to be re-recorded for their first full-length, Spirit)