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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.