Folk Metal bands doing an acoustic album is not necessarily a new concept, but even before hearing the album you know you're never going to hear another album like Evocation I (except, perhaps, the planned acoustic sequel).
As far as actually playing Folk Metal, most of the current bands extend to folk-sounding melodies and an instrument or two, like the violin or accordion. Eluveitie seem to be the perfect band to do an acoustic album, as even on their electric albums they have a slew of other instruments used, which range from bagpipes and various types of flutes/whistles, to a hurdy gurdy. Certain tracks on this release have guest contributions which include, among others, a Celtic harp, a 5-stringed fiddle, and another type of flute. Folk instruments are in surplus on this opus.
Now, on their second album, last year's Slania, many of the tracks were undoubtedly fun songs. Unplugging Eluveitie manages to soften their sound, but never does it do anything to mar the "fun" aspects of the songs. Many of the tracks are just as bouncy as their previous output, in particular the title track The Arcane Dominion, my favourite of the album. They capture a very traditional feel with the music on this album, which I'm sure is what they intended to do.
The only thing that could be considered worthy of a complaint is that the vocals are not very memorable. Main vocalist Chrigel Glanzmann takes a backseat on this release, contributing very little throughout; instead most of the vocals are taken care of by hurdy gurdy player Anna Murphy. The songs here are sung exclusively in the ancient Gaulish language, and most of the lyrics are apparently over a thousand years old.
Personally, I feel that besides on the song Natas, which features a guest vocal appearance by Nemtheanga from Primordial, the vocals almost fade into the background and become a nonissue. Even after repeated listening, I can't recall for the life of me when or where Chrigel did vocals, though Anna's are a nice accompaniment to the folk melodies as they just sort of flow along to the rest of the music. Even her vocals, however, seem to take a backseat to the instruments here, and make you wonder if this album wouldn't have achieved the same feeling and purpose if done completely instrumental, as the vocals on this album are, frankly, unmemorable.
While it does have a sound rich with powerful emotion
in the melodies and tunes presented, it is not an album for anyone who
is looking for a hard-hitting, in your face album that will knock you
down upon the first listen. It is, however, whole-heartedly recommended
to anyone who wants to take some time and listen to a fun acoustic album.