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I think most of us should have a good idea of what a gospel church is like. A horde of overly excited people dancing and singing in an ecstatic manner, giving off an aurora of pure ecstasy that hangs over the church like a blanket of smog. It’s a location where every dark aspect of the world is brushed aside, where the real world is forgotten about. Where people can choose to believe that the dark side of the world never existed. It’s a place where every week, hordes of worshipers flock to it like moths to a flame to bask in the radiant glory of their god. Now, capture that image and splice the over the top atmosphere with a metal album. Sounds repugnant don’t it. In fact, it’s even more sickening than I previously had anticipated. Now, I’m not adverse to folk metal, rather I’m simply adverse to a completely euphoric take to the style that robs it of any heavy metal identity. There needs to be a line drawn where happy sounding folk metal degenerates into an ecstatic mesh of ideas that doesn’t go anywhere. Trova di Danú sounds like the collective work of musicians tripping on ecstasy.
It seems a bit of a stretch to call Trova di Danú a metal album. There’s no power behind the compositions. None of the songs hit hard with an intense metallic crash, there’s no anger of malice. It’s the perfect embodiment of a drunken folk festival, all peace and love, no hatred, no anger, nothing even coming close to touching the traditional metal ethos. This is the fundamental flaw with Trova di Danú. The way in which the album is presented renders the music pitifully weak and ineffective. Lacking anything that makes metal such an effective genre, Trova di Danú is an exercise in pathetically weak and uninspired music designed to convince the world that these musicians are the happiest people on the god damn earth. The whole music is so absurd and ridiculous it functions on a similar wavelength to cheesy 80’s synth pop bands rather than anything remotely metal related.
Nothing on Trova di Danú carries enough wait for me. The music is overly melodious to a fault. Melody is often a hard thing to get right in the metal world, usually the right amount needs to be injected in careful doses to allow the music to be effective. Now, if you use too much of it, it can garner mixed results. On rare occasions high levels of melody can be very effective, with bands such as Children of Bodom and Wintersun creating very melodic music that is extremely enjoyable to listen to. Tuatha de Dannan on the other hand clearly don’t know how to balance melody with metal. The metal elements are flat and uninspired leaving the folk elements to steal the show. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the folk elements were actually good. Unfortunately for Tuatha de Dannan the folk elements are grating and hard to digest. The main instrument seems to be a whistle which actually starts off on a good note. Bella Natura has a really cool melody played by the whistle; it’s got a fantastic Celtic vibe to it and sets the album up quite well. Unfortunately after this decent introduction the rest of the music begins to wear thin and quickly run way past its expiration date. The folk melodies aren't written well enough to be the forefront of the music. Also, the metal elements are largely forgettable and ineffective creating a very weak musical front for Trova di Danú.
If a band wants to succeed within the folk metal world then a perfect equilibrium (no pun intended) between the folk and metal elements needs to be immaculately aligned. An unequal balancing of these two elements can result in a very sloppy and disjointed mess of ideas. Tuatha de Dannan has all the intention of being a folk band but without the intention of being a metal one. The metal elements seem to have been added as an afterthought. The compositions don’t appear to be designed for metal. They feel awkward and disjointed when placed over the folk elements. Not at all working in perfect harmony, not striking the perfect balance to be successful in the genre. Not enough thought has been put into the structure of the music; the songs tend to meander about a lot. Often running through numerous ideas throughout the course of a song but not one of them hitting home.
Trova di Danú is far too sloppy and awkward for my liking. There’s way too much folk elements for me and it completely annihilates the entire music. The metal elements haven’t been written well enough, they’re too weak, too lifeless. Not carrying a sense of passion or emotion within them. All thought seems to have been given to the folk elements, whilst everything seems to be added as an afterthought when the music didn't seem interesting enough. Instead they've actually made it more boring than what could have been achieved with a pure folk sound. It’s not interesting, it’s not exciting it’s really quite shit. Avoid.
Tuatha de Danann are a band that weren't even on my radar until recently, but this CD, 'Trova di danú' is apparently the Brazilian collective's 4th, and a highly impressive one at that. They occupy the Celtic niche in the increasingly sprawling folk metal genre, but display a striking variety in their approach, with several different styles incorporated throughout.
For the most part the music is remarkably happy-sounding, due in no small part to the style of main vocalist Bruno Maia who is something of an Andre Matos sound-a-like, singing in a very soft, melodic style that greatly compliments the flutes and whistles used on the lighter songs of the CD to create what is basically the sunniest metal you are ever likely to hear.
The tremendous variety on display, though, means the music will only become too flowery for the most ardent of listeners. With vocal contributions from other band members that vary from Elvenking-style gang shouting through demented-sounding drunk goblin vocals to pseudo-black metal growls as the CD takes a darker turn towards its conclusion, the music is never in danger of becoming too sugary, with every gentle acoustic moment mirrored by a nice, thick riff.
There is also a distinct progressive flavour to many of the songs, with a variety of unexpected changes to time signatures and riffs happening throughout the songs, and keyboard player Edgard Britto sometimes seeming to forget that he plays in a folk metal band as his instrument hisses and squeals in the background. It's nothing mind-bending, but it adds to the disjointed and slightly manic atmosphere of the CD and ensures there is never a dull moment - 'Trova di danú' is one of those releases that seems to fly through its running time.
The songs all seem composed with a specific goal in mind – rather than having an acoustic break or choir section dropped into every track, there is a different approach taken to each. Some will feature prominent flutes and whistles; others are based on choir choruses, and for those that drop all the metal out of the equation for acoustic and fiddle-led Celtic folk, there are those where the melodic vocals are abandoned completely for something harsher.
It is this care given to the songwriting, coupled with the exceptional performances of the musicians and vocalists and the slightly quirky and surreal tone that permeates the entire CD that sets Tuatha de Danann well ahead of some of the more paint-by-numbers folk metal bands that have been cropping up of late. Despite its experimental nature, 'Trova di danú' is one of the best examples of the style I have heard. Seeking it out is mandatory for fans of the genre.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
This, good Sir, is the definition of an utterly happy album. Contrary to popular belief the same can’t be said about every folk metal release, even after having excluded all the black / Viking-influenced stuff. After all Skyclad may be considered as the originators of folk metal and they’re everything but happy, especially when it comes to lyrics, and the same goes with most of their followers. But this isn’t the case of Tuatha de Danann.
By “happy” I don’t mean “silly drinking music” either – the Brazilian band is something still different. You won’t find any song about beer here, nor goofy drunken choirs or silly interludes, just abandon it to Korpiklaani & al. Tuatha De Danann’s happiness most of time leans more towards cheesiness than buffoonery. Those lyrics all dealing with Nature, fairies and dwarves to begin with seem to be issued a lot more from a children book than from a metal album. Not that it’s impossible to write anything worthwhile about Nature: Agalloch did, independently of whatever you may think about their music. But now, green dwarves dancing on red mushrooms – no, sir!
The whole album’s mood goes on par with the lyrics: the music itself is carefree and a tad childish. Let’s admit it: it’s all well done and well played. Most songs especially exhibit a well-crafted guitar solo which contrasts with the more folk-driven passages where the flutes are king, the band showing an indubitable preference for this instrument, even if bagpipes and fiddles aren’t forgotten. The vocals, though not exceptional, are however more supportable than in many folk metal acts, mostly consisting in medium-pitched clean vocals, sometimes enhanced with a little touch of growls, screams or female vocals.
Now sorry, but there’s too much acoustic guitar, far too much. Not that I dislike this instrument a single bit, but what I want to say is this album quickly becomes sleep-inducing. The first three songs, which are high-paced, lively and show indeed the charm of novelty, work very efficiently, especially the third one (Tir Man Og). But right after the overall tempo slows down for a series of far less interesting songs which unfortunately, with a few exceptions, will last until the end of the release. The goofy Believe it’s True, the ultimate mad goblins dance even Finntroll couldn’t have dreamed of, is eventually the only really noticeable track of the second half of the album and maybe the best song of the whole work, though I highly doubt the band was serious while recording it. Then the complex ending track The Wheel is original, but unnecessarily messy.
The other songs go from long and repetitive songs which drag on while singularly lacking of any actual life (The Land’s Revenge) or gentle ballads unfortunately too mellow to really catch the listener’s attention (Spellboundance, Trova di Danù). Eventually The Arrival is a bizarre song which seems to consist in two parts only imperfectly linked together. Not that any of these tunes are awful a single bit, they’re still beautiful, charming and whatever you want, but they without doubt lack of the little spark of genius which would have made them unforgettable. The acoustic guitars arpeggios, the flutes, the acoustic guitars, the flutes, one only gets the impression Tuatha de Danann could write one hundred more of such songs. Nice fillers, but nonetheless fillers.
My edition also came with a bonus track, A Song of Oengus, far more electric guitar-driven, thus less folk-sounding than the other songs. Apart from that, this isn’t a captivating track by any mean, but once again I’ve heard far worse. The same could be said about almost every song here: Trova di Danù is overall a nice, gentle album, there only is more inspired folk metal around there. But just lend it an ear if you come across it, it definitely has its moments.
Highlights: Lover of the Queen, Tir Man Og, Believe: It’s true!
First, I'll say I am a very good fan of Tuatha. As they are from my state in Brazil, I have seen they growing among the critics of the "metal scene" in here. Some of these critics I have agreed with, some not.
Tuatha de Danann has always been about great feeling in their songs, but they had a very bad point in most of their songs: they had no poetic sense! The lyrics were very badly written, and although the songs had cool messages or were to sound like irish drinking songs, they were written like nursery rimes...! Anyway, in this album, they fixed that, the lyrics are now almost conceptual, the album speaks for itself, it really introduces the People of Danú to whoever listens to it.
The vocals are very improved, they now sound a bit like Damnagoras, from Elvenking and Leprechaun, when they are high. The clean parts are very beatyful, with good tunes and no technical mistakes at all, which makes of them very "feelingfull". The pitched vocals come only in the end of the album, in THE WHEEL, and they are very well made. The female vocals are beatyful and sound totally celtic, they are not like Cruachan's poor vocals, but really well done vocals, well put inside the songs.
The guitars are creative, not repetitive at all, and as Tuatha gained a lot of production sense with their career, they are more equallized and better harmonized with other instruments.
The bass is lovely! Creative, not repetitive, not very high but it sounds perfectly n the songs! It's perfect for the music they play. It adds the right feeling and the perfect tune to the song... It dictates the rythim lines in almost all tunes, but it does not get to be THE tune. And that is what makes of this album's bass lines one of the best bass lines in the history of Folk Metal! ::)
The drums are perfect for the album as well. Not fast when it's not needed, not slow when it's not needed. They sound perfectly "musical", if you understand what I'm saying... The percussion is one of the stuff that adds the perfect feeling to the songs, and with the bass, it makes a powerful combination!
The flutes are perfect! Not repetitive, but creative, well equallized and well put among the other instruments. The violin parts sound a lot like "MAGO DE ÖZ", because they are very well worked with the flute tunes. The only way to understand and love it is to listen to it!
Now the musicallity. I have two reasons for not giving this album a 100%. The first one is that the songs are very patterned. I mean, they are very good, but they all have the introduction, the clean vocals, the chorus, the middle, the end... In these patterns, they are all VERY VERY crerative, but I think the album lost the non-conceptual feeling the band had, that is, the band could have put some songs to make you laugh like Finganfor from Tingaralatingadum...! Or some folkish stuff like melodies with vocal combinations(like Tan Pin Ga Ra Tan....... - From Tingaralatingadum as well...).
The other reason is that the band lost the catchy feeling. This album is perfect for the celtic autumn feeling, I would say... But it is not catchy, and I think that if the people of Danú wanted to pass some happiness and not only their philosophy in "Hail songs", they would have sang drinking songs...! Even the "happy songs" are a bit "doomy", in terms of feeling. That gets to be an interesting point of the album, but in MUSICAL TERMS, it gets much of the feeling the band used to have(which I loved!).
The last thing I have to say is that the band is now very progressive rock influenced. It seems they've listened to Gentle Giant and Jethro Tull and Uriah Heep, then to True Celtic Folk, read some Folkish texts, listened to Horslips and then to some power metal and mixed it all. It might seem strange to read, but that's what makes it interesting to listen to! Give this peace of work a chance and you'll be surprinsingly granted! ::)