Some of you may have been up in arms about my take on Primordial’s reissue, where I said something like it was as fun as a cavity search in a Thai jail. So, up step Cruachan, with their latest effort of pagan/black/hamster metal, in an effort to readjust my view of the Emerald Isle.
The good news is that while the folk parts of the album are rather good, as The Voyage of Bran is a very traditional Celtic folk sounding with a definite jig to it, as well as using the female clean vocals to good effect. And while the male aggressive isn’t indecipherable, they are slightly cold, and not in the grim and frostbitten way. During The Column, a monstrous war song, there is something that is holding back, perhaps it’s the crippling lack of bass. It’s this song that the vocals completely fall down, the cries of “Blood! Blood! Spill our Irish blood!” cement a fashion that the rest of the album follows of lacklustre vocal hooks.
Cruachan certainly have a melodic edge to a degree. The musical passages do stand out and the folk instruments carry the melancholic tunes particularly well; instead of being overbearing in front as is the trend in more extreme folk metal when they do take the lead, the fiddles are woven finely into the barrage of metal. The finishing opus, Nine Year War, brings all the elements that the album has previously displayed, for better or worse, into a pleasing track, but doesn’t quite hit the mark the way that Tursisas’ latest effort did.
BotBR certainly isn’t without it’s merits and fans of the band will certainly enjoy it. Unfortunately, as the already mentioned Turisas have set the bar distressingly high for this genre in 2011, Cruachan fall short.