Eluveitie – “Origins”


eluveitieoriginscd“The new wave of folk metal” is a good introduction to what is in store for those not familiar with Eluveitie, although for many of us, Eluveitie served as the introduction to folk metal.  Songs of ancient times, often in old languages rarely spoken, and a plethora of traditional instruments mixed with metal leading to songs with an epic feel is what one can expect.  Origins is the sixth album from the Swiss band and fifth on Nuclear Blast Records.

The origins of Eluveitie trace back to 2002 when Chrigel Glanzmann formed the band with the intention of fusing Gothenburg-style melodic death metal with ancient folk melodies and themes.  Originally meant as only a studio project, the band turned real and began playing shows in 2004 following signing to Fear Dark records.  In 2006, the album Spirit was released on Fear Dark records.  Late in 2007, the band signed to Nuclear Blast records and the album Slania was released in early 2008, followed by extensive touring.  Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion (2009), Everything Remains…As it Never Was (2010), and Helvetios (2012) document the discography of the band which has seen more than its fair share of lineup changes over time as well, which may not be terribly surprising given the band currently has eight members who need collectively to be proficient in a wide array of traditional and modern instruments in addition to being able to carry the vocals.  Eluveitie albums typically chart very well in the European market, have been well received by critics and the band was named the best “Up and Coming” band at the Wacken Open Air Festival in 2010 and best live act as the Swiss music awards in 2014.

Folk metal bands often take on the traditional sounds of their home country, and Eluveitie often have a distinct Celtic sound and songs in Gaulish language, which may seem odd for a band from Switzerland, but a quick view of 1st century BCE history shows that Gaul comprised Western Europe including Switzerland whose ancestral people are represented by the Helvetia tribe.  With the historical connections established, the fusion of Celtic folk melodies and instruments with Gothenburg-style melodic death metal suddenly makes more sense and one can even hear traditional-sounding reels in their songs.  The wide variety of instruments from whistles and fiddles to bagpipes and flutes play an integral role in their sound and are not simply there to provide atmosphere.  Combining the traditional and modern in such a way is no simple feat in terms of songwriting and recording/mixing and this is an area where Eluveitie essentially set the standard.

As one might expect with folk metal, Origins starts out with an intro track to introduce the story with a bit of narration that immediately proceeds into some traditional instruments for a while which are then joined by the guitars and drums.  As the intro fades into “The Nameless” the melodic death metal comes to the forefront with the double bass drums and guttural vocals taking the lead while the traditional instruments fade into the background.  What I particularly enjoy in Eluveitie’s sound is that while there is obvious metal in the forefront, the traditional instruments are still there in the mix and provide some unique atmosphere even when just in a supporting role.  In terms of songwriting and arranging, Eluveitie have obviously mastered the ability to weave together the metal and traditional, making the sound seamless and flowing.

I am a big fan of the traditional Celtic band Solas and the beginning of “From Darkness” sounds very much like something I would expect to hear from them.  Of course, the guitars and drums and metal vocals then come in and take the song in a different direction but again the traditional instruments are heard throughout, with the fiddle especially contributing nicely in the verse sections.  To my ears, this album is a bit brighter than Slania in overall tone and the first hint of this is in the backing vocals on “From Darkness”.

Anna Murphy’s clean vocals first come to the forefront in “Celtos” and provide a great contrast to the growling, guttural death vocals.  Her vocals are simply beautiful and the showcase in perhaps the biggest surprise of the album, the more mainstream metal “The Call of the Mountains”, which instantly brings to mind bands like Within Temptation.  Some metal purists may not appreciate this song as much as the others but if nothing else, it does afford the possibility of gaining the band new listeners and drawing them into the heavier music found in the rest of the tracks.  Those looking for the heavier songs will definitely not be disappointed, especially with “inception” and “King” which would best described as primarily metal with some folk influences.

Although I haven’t followed Eluveitie closely since their epic album Slania, Origins fits with what I would expect to hear from them in many ways.  To my surprise, there are new elements compared to Slania that add more depth to their overall sound, while still retaining what I consider and unmistakable sound that many have come to appreciate over the years.

Rating: 8/10

Written by John Jackson

01. Origins
02. The Nameless
03. From Darkness
04. Celtos
05. Virunus
06. Nothing
07. The Call Of The Mountains
08. Sucellos
09. Inception
10. Vianna
11. The Silver Sister
12. King
13. The Day Of Strife
14. Ogmios
15. Carry The Torch
16. Eternity

Band Members:
Merlin Sutter – Drums
Chrigel Glanzmann – Vocals, Mandola & Mandolin, Tin & Low Whistles, Bagpipes, Bodhràn
Anna Murphy – Hurdygurdy, Vocals, Flute
Nicole Ansperger – Fiddle
Ivo Henzi – Guitars
Rafael Salzmann – Guitars
Patrick Kistler – Tin & Low Whistles, Bagpipe
Kay Brem – Bass

Buy the album here:
First Paradox
Norway: Nordic Mission
Metal Helm

Record Label: Nuclear Blast Records, Aug. 2014

Weblinks: Website Facebook Twitter

Video for ‘The Call of the Mountains’

Video for ‘King’

Lyric video for ‘The Silver Sister’



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