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A Downward Spiral - 40%

TheNecromancer, September 13th, 2010

I doubt I've ever come across a band like Eluveitie, who rose to stardom almost completely overnight - becoming the muse of metalworker near and far. I don't know whether I should be thankful or scornful towards this, since Eluveitie are a band that just don't go anywhere anymore. They're taking the traits of most mainstream bands, and just going with what works; but most importantly, what sells.

They had a lot of success with Slania, being the talk of metalheads everywhere as "Dark Tranquility + Celtic Folk", but I can't really give much praise to this album since they just haven't gone anywhere. They've explored no new ground. The result is their weakest album yet.

We start with a trademark Eluveitie introduction, but just not as good and watered down. It wasn't really engaging and it didn't set the mood for an epic journey of an album, like Slania did with the fantastic "Samon". So then we're thrown into one of the highlights of the album, the title track of the album. It's a good and well written song, but it doesn't really live up to the previous great songs from Spirit and Slania. Something really irks me about this though, the absence of their native language. It was one of the things Eluveitie really had an advantage with, a fresh wind of authenticity. But now that that's gone, we're left with just the music as a good point. But then, the music is not as strong as Slania or Spirit.

Thousandfold is a highlight of this album, probably being the strongest written song on the album (aside the title track). But it’s still not to the level of some of the great songs from Slania (such as Calling the Rain and Slania's Song). The melodies in Thousandfold are rather good, but they’re a lot less memorable and catchy as the previous albums. This doesn’t stop it from being a good song, though.

From here it crashes and burns. The rest of the songs are either horrible or just plain mediocre (With the exception of the pure folk songs, such as Isara, which are excellent – Evocation I with actual complexity). A horrible one would be The Essence of Ashes, which is an unmemorable folk melody, vocals on top of guitars that sound like they’ve been hanging out a bit too much with Trivium. Lugdunon is another pretty horrible effort from Eluveitie, which is the last metal song on the album. But it almost sounds like they’re ending it with a whine rather than a roar, like how Elembivos ended Slania. It’s a very generic rhythm riff, slow drums, boring vocals, and cringe-worthy folk instruments. Not a fantastic way to end the album.

Not sure what to think of the vocals either. Chrigel’s low vocals are used a lot more now, and I don’t like this change. This is blatantly to appeal to the general death metal crowd, though I’m pleased that the female vocals are used a lot more in this album. Though again, this is probably so it has more appeal to those who are not used to death metal vocals.

Another issue is the production. Hiring professional producers that worked with the likes of Trivium and Slipknot certainly didn’t work in their favour, it sounds far too clean and soulless – it doesn’t have the metal crunch the previous albums did. The folk instruments sound a bit weak, losing the soul-stirring effect that folk songs can have (Hear Samon from Slania, then listen to The Luminal Passage.). It’s far too clean, and it loses its authenticity somewhat. Albums don’t need to be polished to have a good production.

Eluveitie need to re-explore what made them a success in the first place, they seem to have lost all general direction. Instead of progressing, they’ve just overcomplicated their formula. They went with what works, but they’ve put too much into it. Other than that, the songs are either too complicated or too weak to really stand up to the previous albums. Aside from a few pretty good songs, this is just an average melodic death metal album with folk thrown in. It’s a genuine step up from Evocation I, but let’s face it, that isn’t a difficult step to take. It’s time for Eluveitie to wake up, try something a bit new, and realize what got them to where they are now. They’re one of the biggest forces in folk metal, it’s time for them to prove it.

Originally written for http://www.spirit-of-metal.com