Friday, January 20, 2012

Eluveitie - Helvetios

A key selling point for metal is to make me feel like I’m riding a dragon through middle earth, preferably Mordor. Folk metal takes plenty of stabs at said dragon , yet It takes a party of high level bards to pull this off and hold the power and snarl required of good metal . Bands like Korpiklaani, fail their saving throws and end up in a drunken frolic with elves and not enough mithril in their sound. Switzerland’s Eluveitie gallops onto the battlefield leaving their inner elves back at the hearth of home.

This being the Swiss octet’s fifth full length, this is a much more refined machine, and churns with a focused energy through the snow capped Alps . The sounds are bigger, guitar tone has more crunch, the vocals carry a more acidic hiss and you would think these the things which make for a metal album , however folk metal sounds most authentic and less like Skyrim background with a balance of big production for epic sound and an organic warmth to merit to the presence of folk instruments. Eluveitie’s modern vision of Middle Earth finds me at the Shire asking Frodo where the strip malls and fast food joints came from.

The metal remains the meat of the matter here the layers of hurdy gurdy , violin and mandola , slavishly return to the same intervals played not only on the previous songs but of the previous albums . After further listens it is not as evident as on their previous albums, and require less effort disprove the theory when you have heard one Eluveitie song you have heard them all. It would be interesting if when they return to the studio later this year to work on the next acoustic album, if the band decided to take copious amounts of hallucinogens and find new parameters for these instruments.

If not the most inspired the execution of musicianship is solid front to back , my ears caught bassist Kay Brem’s chops have stepped up to allow the low end to churn with renewed precision. Considering how many musicians each player is preforming around avoids been a cluster fuck is an accomplishment int and of it’s self . The pound into a stomp veer into a dared Nu Metal territory, the results are varied as on the song “ the Siege “ more break neck In Flames styled thrash recalls less memories of Hot Topic stores best forgotten.

At the jarring inclusion of a song like “ A rose for Epona” I stopped to see how Lacuna Coil snuck onto my Ipod. In my heart of heats I never fully disagreed with the lament of the dreaded baby’s mother of this band ‘s previous albums , which was the vocals often sound like they are battling the rest of the band . Though Chrigel sounds best when he drops down more phlegm soaked depths of his guttural tone. The more modern tone of the album is more accommodating to his style this go around.

In the days of teenagers making there weekend pilgrimage to the mall to spend their parents hard earned money on cds , this album would have been hailed as the once that would have broken Eluvietie through to a wider audience , perhaps that might still happen if they find themselves on a package tour sandwiched in between Lamb of God and Halestrom. I think it is more likely that they will find themselves treading a middle ground of not being heavy enough for their once upon a fan base who has moved on to Kampfar or Taake and too heavy for the casual Nightwish fan.

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