Eluveitie have been around for over 10 years now. Quite a land mark- folk metal is a powerful genre of music and a difficult mistress to master, not least in part because it has tonnes of potential to become tired and repetitive. If I were a folk metalist, for example, I know I’d be tempted to get lost in theatricality, or over dense sound, or hiking to the old country or something… Like I say, its easy to see how that could happen.
The other side of that coin is how easy it could be for it to become gimmicky, with the addition of instruments like harp, flute, bagpipes, hurdy gurdy and the rest having huge potential to be shoe horned in with little to no addition to the musical quality. Such is the eternal question of metal, I suppose- how do you sound “different” without sounding shit?
Well, there are a good few answers to that question, and Eluveitie have consistently proved over the last decade that they are one of the biggest. Their sound has been developing over the years, the likes of “Slania” establishing a firm and serious folk metal/ Celtic folk sound on the metal scene, persisted with other excellent studio offerings like the excellent “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”, “Origins” and “Evocations I and II”. “Ategnatos” really is an apex to their sound. To cut the sh*t, I love this album.
Eluveitie know what they do. They know their sound. They know their audience and they know their art.
You have a tendency with bands (not to name any names), where by once they get a few albums in and a few years deep, they become complacent and they kind of lose their heritage. Whether they get tired, it’s the money, it’s the record label “suggesting” direction, they get bored and want to experiment with their sound or whatever it is – It’s a story that has been told time and time again and it’s awesome to see Eluveitie avoiding that like the plague, staying true to their sound and keeping that passion alive.
The album opens with the ambient, mood setting title track “Ategnatos”. Introducing the excellent and super-varied musicianship, the honed, harsh vocal stylings of “Chrigel” and the clean, melancholy vocals of “Fabienne”, along with the sheer production value of this serious 8th studio entry, the album pulls no punches from the start.
With the atmosphere set, you’re suitably prepared for the experience that is to come: an epic mix of every dimension that has made Eluveitie stand out for so long. The clean female vocals cut so nicely through the raw harshness of the dirty vocals, but neither feel misplaced or underused- they complement each other massively. Tracks like “Black Water Down” bring an awesome almost folklore aspect to the album, making it feel like a project, almost a concept album, executed superbly.
As it moves on, “Ategnatos” gets a little heavier and increases in its intensity, with “Mine is the Fury” bringing some serious, raw aggression to the offering and keeping it fresh, but also speaking to the rest of the album and not at all out of place. “Ategnatos” has been constructed, and the tracks are structured; they almost to tell a story. The Celtic folk roots of the band’s sound shine in “Ategnatos”. Truly shine.
Over the years, Eluveitie have had some big hits and been a consistent presence in the heavy scene. “Ategnatos” is a culmination of everything they have brought and a true apex of folk metal sound. This album, for me, sets the bar high not just for the band but for the whole sub-genre. Everything about it is excellent- the melody, the riffage, the vocals, the tempo and pacing of the album and the structure- and it is a truly fantastic offering by some veterans of the genre. An absolute must listen!
Eluveitie’s new album ‘Ategnatos’ is out now via Nuclear Blast.