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Where has this been all my life?! - 100%

The_Boss, May 6th, 2008

Eluveitie is a folk metal band from Switzerland that draws many influences on the melodeath, particularly the Gothenburg melodeath scene. It’s hard to say which is more prominent, the melodeath or the folk, which is good because it’s safe to say Eluveitie, have found the perfect combination of the styles and have definitely mastered this overall sound. Their debut Spirit was an amazing first album and certainly deserved a lot of attention and I thought it would be impossible to top such an album because I considered that near perfect. Now, with the 2008 release of Slania they have done the impossible; they’ve outdone themselves and created what I consider to be a folk/melodeath masterpiece. I told myself after giving out some perfect scores already that I would never do so again nor would I get very close because people give out perfect scores way to often around here, but here I am giving out another 100, because this deserves it, it’s a masterpiece in my eyes and deserves so much credit. I have been searching years for an album like this and finally I have it. Being Irish and very interested in Celtic and Gaulish history as well as typical folk instruments like the fiddle, hurdy-gurdy, Irish flute, and more this is perfect, especially being a big fan of Gothenburg melodeath like At the Gates, Dark Tranquillity and Nightrage.

Eluveitie have struck gold with this, as I mentioned Spirit was almost perfect and it would be extremely hard to best that, but Slania has upped the ante for all those bands out there; everything about this album is awesome. The instrumental tracks found here are perfect and help to set up and atmosphere of folksy times reminiscent of the days of old, with beautiful folk instruments being the highlight. Samon starts off the album in this way with a perfect flute driven part with the sounds of fire and such in the background. Perfect way of starting off the album, more tracks like this are found throughout the album, Anagantios, Giamonios, and Elembivos all of which are primarily folk driven instrumentals all telling a story about Celtic mythology based on the primary function of the Great Wheel and it’s four stopping points or stations where great feasts are held with Samon being the first. Samon is the heralding of the Winter and dark times that lead to much partying and drinking. Anagantios follows along being a very relaxing and calm track relays a message of being the one after Winter, when the wildlife and mythical one Cernunnos awakes and take helps in the resurrection of life. Giamonios is the shortest of the four with a fiddle in the forefront holding the part of the story of Summer and the thriving time of life. Ending up the four instrumental track and the album is Elembivos being the longest and has a beautiful fiddle solo as well as a guitar solo featuring Jens Bogren to help and create a perfect folk inspired instrumental piece. This tells the ending of the years cycle and when the preparation of Winter begins.

So with the instrumental tracks spread throughout the album it helps in perfectly the folksy atmosphere that is set and needed to creating such a masterpiece of an album. The rest of the album is made up of blazing fast and relentless blends of folk and melodeath songs where melodeath is primary or slower mid paced songs where folk is in the forefront. Very simple formula, but it fucking works and that is what matters here; the songs on Slania are very catchy and highly memorable. Primordial Breath, Inis Mona, and Gray Sublime Archon start the album off in a perfect way with; I remember listening to Primordial Breath the first time and saying it was my favorite Eluveitie song, then Inis Mona came on and I changed my mind, then Gray Sublime Archon came up and changed my mind again; not many albums can do that do that to you and this is one of them. Primordial Breath has some of the best harsh vocals I’ve heard in a while, the guy sounds strained and pained and yet at the same time it works and has some awesome moments and is complimented well with the background chanting. Inis Mona, my personal favorite, rolls on next and straight from the get go you can tell this is going to be a fun song with fiddle in the forefront then leading and complimenting perfectly with the guitars and intense drums. The vocals again are top notch and it’s perfect singing along with, having a very catchy sing along chorus yelling about Inis Mona an isle and the homeland. Gray Sublime Archon as well features a very enjoyable treat to the ears with an epic choral arrangement and fiddle parts. Bloodstained Ground is also something of a treat, being lulled by a beautiful piece like Anagantios, this song comes around full force being the fastest song on here singing about a great battle that was fought between Caesar and the Helvetians many, many years ago. Slania’s Song is a wonderfully beautiful song featuring a female vocalist as well as Gaulish lyrics, how fucking awesome. Tarvos and Calling the Rain are two other faster numbers that are excellent in between pieces seated perfectly between Giamonios and Elembivos. Tarvos being about the ancient mythological beast and it’s story of the beginning of life and the world seasons and Calling The Rain being similar to that of Primordial Breath singing about the beauty of the wilderness and nature.

The musicianship here is stellar as well, top-notch guitar playing that doesn’t sound too flashy or stand out too much over the rest, drumming that matches perfectly from folk to intense melodeath insanity, and a bass that helps in the creating of a heavier rhythm section but nothing special. The folk instruments here are the highlights, featuring two females that are cope well and help to find a perfect balance. The production here is also outstanding, very high quality and polished helping to find a medium in the mixing of two styles that is what is needed for Eluveitie’s sound.

Slania is exactly what I have been looking for in a metal album for a long time, it may not be my all time favorite sub genre of metal (I’m a thrasher), but I’m a sucker for Gothenburg done right and a sucker for Celtic folk so when this is combined in the best way possible I have found something what I’ve been looking for it just took a long time to find it. This isn’t for everyone but fans of melodeath, folk and combinations of the two should like this, as well as anyone interested in Celtic/Gaulish history look no further, this has a perfect telling of the history and popular mythology of their past. I fell in love with Eluveitie with Spirit but I thought them to be just a good band, now I know they are a fucking awesome band and deserve so much credit and attention and have jumped ranks and now are at the top. This is beautiful music that isn’t quite understood by many people, thankfully though I recognize it, also thanks to the booklet that came with the CD containing a lot of the information about the songs and such.