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Not quite making their ancestors proud - 60%

Valfars Ghost, February 21st, 2016

Aiumeen Basoa is one of those groups that come up with great musical ideas but can't figure out how to form them into concise, quality songs. With a few exceptions, any twenty-second snippet of Iraganeko bide malkartsutik sounds good, if not great, but taken in its entirety, the group's sole full-length is frustratingly uneven. Though these musicians have a gift for crafting strong melodies that gracefully fuse real folk instruments and atmosphere with metal savagery, their inability to structure their own work ends up being their downfall.

You're likely to find this album amazing if you have it on but are paying attention to something else. It certainly is an ambitious slab of metal that seems to get everything right at first glance. The way these basques meld metal with the music of their homeland is captivating. They do quite a bit more with the genre than simply playing a flute or a violin over metal riffs. For most of this album, they manage to strike a magical balance, immersing listeners in a warm blend of folk and metal, bringing their ideas to life with rich performances, a wide variety of traditional instruments, and a surprisingly crisp production. Even the metallic aspects of their music have more dimension than is normal for the genre. Iraganeko bide malkartsutik delivers a wealth of blackened riffing as well as plenty of proggy moments. From soft atmospheric folk complete with gorgeous chants to epic, slow-building lead-ups, to full-throttle metal aggression and even a chill jazzy break in 'Akelarrearen sua', this album has a healthy amount of variety that lends it an enthralling personality.

Iraganeko bide malkartsutik's real problems begin when you start judging its individual songs. There's a clear effort at crafting sophisticated structures and the band succeeds in the sense that each track has a number of sections that provide quite a bit of variety but they do so at the expense of cohesion. Most songs don't come together like they're supposed to because the band seemingly thought up several ideas for each one, couldn't decide which to pursue, and instead shoved them all together, even when they didn't fit (and they rarely did). This is the musical version of the imaginary product of that conversation we've all had where we build our ideal woman or man out of the body parts of famous people. Attaching Jessica Chastain's head and Margo Robbie's hips to Natalie Portman's torso, for example, wouldn't work because each part developed independently under different circumstances and based on different DNA blueprints. Even if you could stitch together such a Frankenwoman and keep her alive, the finished product would look wrong because none of her parts were made to be with the others. By the same principle, each song on Iraganeko bide malkartsutik, despite having some great building blocks, end up being malformed.

Take 'Aintzinako guduen oroimenak' for instance. About six minutes in, the sort of sound that only ever indicates that a song is ending, with all band members playing one final note in unison, occurs. For some reason, though, this isn't where the song ends. Instead 'Aintzinako' follows its own crescendo up with a second of silence and then an unrelated acoustic instrumental section that wanders for at least three minutes. Most of the songs are made up of similarly disjointed parts that awkwardly flow into each other, leaving the entire album feeling unfocused. The greatness of many of its individual parts is often negated by the fact that they typically don't fit with the other passages in their vicinity. As well-executed as some of these sections are in a vacuum, the structure robs the album of a satisfying, logical flow.

This release is respectable because it offers a wealth of passion, ambition, instrumental skill, and an enchanting fusion of styles but ultimately fails to be worth recommending because the songwriting skills that led to such amazing moments as the complex yet somehow calm acoustic intro that starts the album or the sea shanty-esque accordion madness in 'Akelarrearen sua' simply can't keep up the whole time or even through the length of a single song. With tracks that are unnecessarily long-winded and loaded with segments awkwardly shoved into place, some of which seem to drag endlessly, all the talent this band brought into the studio just didn't coalesce into the tour-de-force it should have been.

One of the best black metal albums ever! - 90%

jaimeviejo, May 27th, 2013

Basque black-metal is not at all a stupid idea. The genre, which has always been linked together with the relationship between man and nature, has a lot of points in common with the geography of this area in the North of Spain: a land full of evoking scenery and traditions that serve as the perfect inspiration for a Folk black-metal band.

In 2001, the split “Triarchy of Vasconia” was published; It contained music from the Basque bands Adhur, Aiumeen Basoa and Iltbeltz. That was an excellent album to show the world how good pagan folk metal from this northern Iberian region was at the time, but even before that a good number of black metal bands were already coming from these vast lands, like Numen, another beast born and bred in the Basque country: a unique band that took the classic approach of Marduk but with a less polished production and a different vocal style that made them different for the hordes of uninspired black metal clones. The only survivor of all these bands is Aiumeen Basoa.

“Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik” is a unique and beautifully crafted album that brings together the mystic of black metal with Basque folk music. This has obviously been done before by Norwegians, Finnish, and even now by the American one-man band Panopticon, mixing American folk music, bluegrass and black metal. What happens here, though, is that Basque folk music works wonders mixed with black metal. Instruments like txirula, oboe, piano, pandero and flauta travesera, add another dimension to the aggressiveness of black metal while complementing one another. The lyrics are in the Basque language, so there is no chance here to understand what they are saying. Although I guess they are related to nature, feelings, and folklore.

The orchestration is very good and the sound quality of it is just perfect. There are no casio keyboard tones here, just delicate and highly-skilled written symphonic parts. The vocals are the most generic part of the band and the album, but they are still good enough to fit the style of the band. The female vocals add a needed balance between the screams without being too overwhelming. The album was mastered by our friend Dan Swäno, and the result once again is stellar. Another highlight of the album is the magnificent and tasty drum work from Fory, who displays not only technicality but also an impressive control of dynamics.

The only flaw I can find in this album is that some of the rhythms and structures are at times a little bit repetitive. They need some more variation. Besides that little tiny “but” this is a magnificent folk black metal album that will probably be remembered as one of the best extreme albums ever released in Spain.

Written by Jaime Viejo for

Basque Beauty. - 95%

Perplexed_Sjel, November 17th, 2010

Don’t you just love it when a band comes seemingly out of nowhere to perform musical miracles? Me too! Aiumeen Basoa, a seven piece Spanish band, have been around since 1994. Unbelievable but true. Almost twenty years since they first formed and only one full-length, ‘Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik’, an album which, again unbelievably, only came out in 2010, this very year. Stories like this aren’t unheard of but they most certainly are very rare. Not often will a band wait for such a long time adjusting their line-up on several occasions before finally settling down to write and record a debut. Their first involvement with the recording industry actually came nine years previous to this album but still seven years after they had formed in the form of the 2001 split with Adhur and Ilbeltz, two fellow Spanish bands from the Basque country, a region of the world which has recently played host to two exquisite debut albums. This one and Ilbeltz’s magnificent ‘Auskan Gabiltz Olatun Gainian (1598 Potrobizargorri I)’, an album which also holds a very similar story to that of this one, though that isn’t entirely surprising given the fact that both bands share members.

My experience with Pagan music isn’t exactly limited when it comes to fusions with black metal but when it comes to Pagan inspired folk music, well, I’m completely useless. I have very limited knowledge of this fusion, though Pagan inspired music tends to take on a very aggressive, black metal-esque sound anyway, as can be heard on this debut album, ‘Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik’. Given the fact that the line-up consists of seven members, I had expected a very diverse album and that is precisely what we have here. The line-up, which consists of several musicians and vocalists, is incredibly important to the band, which probably explains why it has taken almost twenty years to fully adjust the line-up and appease whomever is in charge enough so that they can finally enter the studio and record this beautiful, emotionally charged album for the world to finally embrace the full extent of the bands vision. As with the formally mentioned Ilbeltz, this Basque country based band are inspired by both folklore and nature, two themes which run through the veins of the atmosphere and general style of play. From the jazzy sections of ‘Jentil Odola’, with its free roaming bass and wonderful vocal duet, to the use of the accordion, keyboards and violins on the other songs, Aiumeen Basoa embark on an impressive and immersive journey into their heritage and past with wonderful conclusions.

Pinpointing particular songs for praise is rather difficult given how well each song is constructed so I’ll pick one at random to examine to give the reader an idea of how this Spanish band operate and to what kind of results. Each song tends to be fairly lengthy, with the shortest just eclipsing the six minute mark so there’s plenty of time to fully immerse oneself into the soundscapes, though it doesn’t take much effort given how truly beautiful and well crafted each song is. ‘Aintzinako Guduen Oroimenak’, for example, is almost perfect. It combines every element that makes this band so wonderful to listen to with such ease and this gives the album an instant sense of longevity whilst most bands take a lifetime achieving such a quality. This song combines the diverse use of instrumentation and vocals well, with the clean male and female duet being a particular highlight of this and other songs featured on the album. The vocals aren’t overbearing and overblown as they can tend to be in certain other genres, or within certain types of folk bands. They’re tastefully done and achieve maximum success in terms of the emotions they portray. There’s a real sense of passion about exploring their culture and heritage which is infectious. I really enjoy it when metal bands immerse themselves and their listener in their country’s heritage.

Generally speaking, the Japanese tend to be the best at this but Spain is proving more than a match for their talents at incorporating a sense of culture in their music. The folk aspect sits very well with the Pagan themes, a side to the band which takes the form of a rather symphonic black metal band, if you will. The keyboards which are portrayed on songs like ‘Aintzinako Guduen Oroimenak’ are particularly reminiscent of the early symphonic scene which used majestic, ancient sounding atmospherics to light up the background whilst the repetitious and fast guitaring will give the soundscapes a slightly dark edge. Towards the middle and end of songs like the aforementioned, Aiumeen Basoa have a go at breaking up the foundations of the songs and implementing elements which might appear uncharacteristic at first but that actually fit in superbly. Like the acoustics, or the use of flutes, for example. These elements offer the album a different appeal and a different vibe, one which makes the album sound far more dynamic and sustainable. Not unlike bands such as Chile’s Uaral, Aiumeen Basoa embrace the folksy side to their style and use the full extent of their gifts well, incorporating sounds and instruments into their ploy fantastically, even alongside charming, clean vocals, as shown delicately on songs like ‘Akelarrearen Sua’. As songs like this progress the band live up to their own high standards as they seek to draw back in the harsher side to their game. This is an incredibly well crafted album with lots to take pleasure from. A joy to listen to.

Aiumeen Basoa - Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, August 20th, 2010

It seems no country wishes to be left out of the folk metal explosion of recent years, with acts emerging from hitherto unknown metal locations to espouse their love of metal and local, traditional folk melodies. Of course this point is lost on the many who simply repeat the actions of their heroes from other regions, but with Aiumeen Basoa from the Basque region of Spain there are no such issues. Despite apparently forming way back in 1994 yet with just one previous split release to their name thus far the band can largely be labelled a product of the recent folk generation, a fact clearly borne in listens to "Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik" with it's flirtations between symphonic, proggy folk and faster moments of nigh on black metal.

While the basic features of AB's sound might not suggest of anything too ground-breaking, the combination of unusual instrumentals, lyrics in the Euskara or Basque tongue and some heavily developed song structures do at least ensure an identity is fairly quickly spawned in the long songs throughout. Opening with a feint and summery feel is not what I'm used to with metal albums but in "Kantauriko Trabain Erruak" we get just that before the shackles are soon unleashed for the first of many crossovers between the varying styles on show. To their credit, in this opener and "Jentil Odola" work the combinations and bridges of genres well, not sounding as uncomfortable in their use of harsher sounds that others like Ironwood have in their own attempts, but the highlights of the piece are always guaranteed to be the cheerier folk sections. Korpiklaani may be an obvious comparator for the violin but given what else AB offer their symphonic feel echoes of Orphaned Land mixing with the riffery of Forefather through uncomfortably named songs like "Ahintzinako Guduen Oroimenak" and "Akelarrearen Sua" that do have a habit of drifting on much longer than a band of greater experience would have allowed.

Sitting here trying to put to words exact reasons for not grading "Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik" higher than the below mark is only down to insufficient moments of pure greatness with which to take away from the experience. The composition and passion are utmost and professional and Aiumeen Basoa's songcraft is evidently deeper than almost any other 'folk metal' band I've come across, yet even with the Green Carnation/Opeth prog metal meeting Enslaved folk/black metal meeting Orphaned Land exotic folk-isms the feel of a 'complete' record is just missing. That always being the indicator of a truly great band, Aiumeen Basoa have at least built a very solid base from which to climb to those levels on their second album, assuming of course that next one isn't the same 16 years in the making.

Originally written for

Mari must be proud of this! - 96%

Paganbasque, July 29th, 2010

Nine long years have passed since the excellent “Triarchy of Vasconia” was released, this great split album showed the immense potential of three pagan basque bands, Adhur, Ilbeltz and Aiumeen Basoa. The first one has released its first work some weeks ago and the other one is currently working on its long awaited debut album, so it was very pleasant when Aiumeen Basoa announced the release of “Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik” (Through the winding path of the past). The expectations were extremely high and with great satisfaction I can assure you that the waiting has been worth. “Iraganako Bide Malkartsutik” is an extremely elaborated, dynamic and original combination of Basque folk sounds, black metal influences and some progressive and atmospheric touches. Everything is mixed with subtlety in 6 long compositions, four brand new ones and two recovered songs form the mentioned split, the lyrics are all sang in the ancient basque language and are based on the traditional folk-lore and a deep esteem to nature and paganism.

“Kantauriko Trabain Erruak” is the opening track of this album, it commences with a subtle combination of sounds coming from the Cantabric Sea, a precious violin melody and an evoking accordion. Everything is followed by an acoustic guitar which is abruptedly cut by the entrance of the rhythmic guitars and drums, then the violin enters again with another excellent melody being closely followed by the accordion. On the other hand, the combination of vocals is tremendous, eerie screams are mixed effortless with clean male vocals and a delicate female voice. The song has countless tempos and style changes between the straightforward pagan metal attack and the folk/atmospheric parts, being especially noticeable the leaded part by Ohiane´s vocals which are simply enthralling, Beleak and Milelot also do an awesome work with guitars, always adding impressive guitar solos and solid rhythmic riffs, which depending on the moment, sound quite progressive. “Jentil Odola”, a song dedicated to the old Basque pagan inhabitants, stars with a straightforward fast-paced section, accompanied by a good atmospheric key, and once again some breathtaking clean vocals, Mikelot´s labour in this aspect is unbeatable. Before the song arrives to the third minute it suddenly stops leaving the main role to Ohiana and a delicate violin again, the parts leaded by both are precious in all the sense of the word, it’s really difficult to see such a perfect combination of voices in other bands. After two minutes of peaceful melodies the song recovers its strength with the return of the guitars, Forys devastating drums and Beleak´s awesome screams which attack us with ferocity, the last part demonstrates us how this band can sound absolutely shattering. “Iraganeko Guduen Oroiemenak” is the first of the two songs recovered from the split and from my point of view is the true anthem of this band. An unforgettable synthesizer introduces the song, closely followed by excellent guitar melodies and the already well-known mixture of clean and extreme voices, once again done in a tasteful way, but if I have to choose the most prominent and inspired instrument in this song the honour should go to the keys of which flamboyant melodies convert this song in a classic tune, this piece of art finalizes with a beauty and touching folk melody, which is as haunting as only this band knows how to do. “Akelarrearen Sua” begins with a French folk-lore influenced flute and accordion, and evokes us a little town in the Atlantic coast (it has to be commented that these band comes from a nice seaside town called Mutriku). This initial part is suddenly broken by the guitars, epic keys and flutes, this combination is rapidly stopped by a delicate section with cleans vocals, Aiumeen Basoa surely knows how to compose songs with multitude of changes, always connecting them all coherently which is very admirable, the folk arrangements are always of high quality, being specially inspired the accordion, which always finds its place in every song. By the seventh minute an irrintzi (traditional Basque scream) take us by surprised perfectly accompanied by the violin, the song is ended by a sort of jazz-jam very well-done though it doesn’t fit with my tastes and I would personally prefer to skip it.

The last part of the album shows us the most extremely different faces of Aiumeen Basoa. “Ekaitzaren Begitik” is by far the most distinguishable track of the album; it’s a softer piece, slower and introduces some doomish influences, being the most melancholic composition of IBM. The very first time I listened to it I felt a little bit surprised because it seemed to be out of place, but each time I listen to this song again I appreciate it more and more. It begins with Milelot and Ohiane´s vocals which sound even more delicate and with an emotive sad touch, the haunting piano brings to my memory some gothic/doom bands, this comparison is reinforced by the introduction of death metal growls and a daunting violin, and if this is not enough an original guitar section elevates the rhythm of the song, in this case accompanied by Beleak´s screams, simply awesome!. An absolutely different song but as good as the others, it sometimes reminds me bands as My dying Bride or Lacrimas Profundere (early stuff of course) which by no means is bad because I truly love them. On the other hand, this amazing album reaches its end with the heaviest and overwhelming song entitled “Arlekina” (Aiumeen Basoa)”, the other composition re-recorded from the split. In comparison to the other tracks, this song has not so many changes but it’s also varied though mainly it is a fast track, the guitars are excellent but the keys simply captivate every listener with astonishing melodies, finalizing the song with an insistently fast drum and some good solos.

In conclusion, “Iraganeko Bide Marlartsutik” supposes one of the most inspired and remarkable debuts I have ever listened, and its undoubtfully one of the biggest highlights in the pagan/folk scene in the last times. For all those who think that this genre has lost its freshness, give a listen to this masterpiece and you won’t be disappointed. A must have for not only every fan of folk and pagan music, but also for everyone who enjoys an exquisite mixture of different styles.