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Perfection if I've ever heard it - 100%

WickedSaint, October 5th, 2007

As a huge fan of folk metal, and the raw, black-inspired kind in particular, I can honestly say that no other album has ever reached up to this level of excellence. Not even the otherwise so commonly praised albums and admitted masterpieces within the genre like Cruachan's "Tuatha Na Gael" or Vintersorg's "Till Fjälls" reach up to. Those two albums, I absolutely adore as well, but still "An Deiz Ruz" takes the cake. Everything is perfect.

The mixing is perfect for this type of album. Unlike Tuatha Na Gael, where the guitars were rather weak, the guitars on this album sound extremely aggressive. The distortion really cuts through and gives a genuine bite to it. And they are as good as perfect in the mix, they are never drowned out, nor do they ever drown any other instruments out, and one ought to know that there are a great number of instruments on this album. The acoustic guitars are also done very well, tastefully, they have a very nice sound and somehow (the producer must be some sort of genius), they manage to keep the same sound and impact of the acoustics even when mixed with electric guitars and drums.

The bass, it does some very nice stuff that differs from the guitar in some places, and is very audiable most all of the time.

The drumming is something that I've really taken to heart as a drummer myself, it shows that in black metal, less can really be more. Instead of mauling out sextuplets, the drummer sticks to regular triplets, which really helps to drive the riffing forward. Extremely well done. And the sound of the drums is very nice as well, the kick has a tight sound, the snare doesn't sound like a cookie jar, the toms have a nice, thick sound and the cymbals cut through nicely without dominating.

The vocals are really nothing out of the ordinary, high pitched, most of the time, but it's done so well. The lyrics are only decipherable in certain places and are sung in english, in spite of the celtic titles. Then comes the clean male choires. Sounds like celtic warriors preparing to charge. It adds another dimension to the music, so to speak.

And for the most impressive part of the album: The folk instruments. It's got everything. Fiddles, tin whistles, low whistles, bombardes (probably the single most metal instrument ever due to it's piercing and nasal sound, like a curious offshot between a trumpet and an oboe).

A mix of so many instruments and vocal lines and overdubs, it is extremely impressive how they've managed to produce everything so that every single thing, from the whistles to the drums, are clearly audiable, and, more impressively from a musical point of view, how they've managed to arrange it all. Some of the arrangements are extremely interesting. Like on Son Ar Everezh where a tin whistle and a bombard starts playing a melody, it is then sung by the choir and then they all do it together. This type of thing is quite common on this album, but it's not over done. The arrangements are very well thought out and effective, without going those extra five thousand miles that some bands do until it only becomes silly and over done.

Standout tracks, maybe? The preciously mentioned Enez Glaz, Epona pt. II, Son Ar Everezh and Kar Ar Kern stand out the most for me. Either due to superior arrangements (the first two in particular), or due to them being more energetic and aggressive (the later parts of Epona pt. II and Kar Ar Kern), or the staggering dynamics of Epona pt. II.

All in all, this album is extremely well done, every single step of the way, from the riffs and the tin whistle melodies, right down to the perfect and tasteful arrangements and impeccable production. I must say, I must have listened to this album maybe four or five times per week, at the very least, during the last year or so, and it still doesn't bore me and nothing in it becomes stale. It still strikes me with awe every single time I listen to it, the pure perfection of it all is simply breathtaking. All hails to these guys and I promise you that it very well deserves each and every one of the 100 points I am giving it.