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Cruachan - Pagan

=Staff's pick

Michael Collins*
The Gael
Ard Ri Na Heireann*
The March To Cluain Tairbh
Viking Slayer
1014 A.D.*
Some Say The Devil Is Dead*
A Thousand Years*
Lament For The Wild Geese
Summoning Of The Sidhe
The Fall Of Gondolin

Genre Celtic Folk Metal
Karen Gilligan, K. Fay
Tracks 13
Keith Fay
Runningtime 52 Min.
Label Karmageddon Media
John Clohessy
Release 28 April 2004
Joe Farrell
Country Ireland
Keith Fay
Similar artists Skyclad, Elvenking

Cruachan delivers Celtic folk-inspired music straight in the vein of Skyclad. Celtic metal with historical themes and simply throw in some aggression and some few occasional black metal elements and you got the mixture of the music from Irish band Cruachan.

Basically the music consist of traditional Irish folk-music laid on top of classic NWOBHM riffing, and then simply add the element of growling and some short aggressive furies along with the fragile voice from Karen Gilligan. The albums starts greatly with the track Michael Collins with percussion and a wonderful melody line where flute, violin and guitar harmonies before Karen Gilligan starts singing. The Celtic melody line continues greatly within the song as it is driven forward by the heavy riffing, and it is delivered with a great conviction. Sadly the power that is there from the start gets lost somewhere along the way on Cruachan's fourth album Pagan, the conviction with which she sings gets lost and her singing makes you feel like she is bored rather than enthusiastic. Second track is continuously good following the start but Pagan spreads too much with black metal elements as well as calm Celtic music with the fragile voice of Karen, the calmer parts are pretty good in this case, but the more aggressive attacks doesnt work at all.

When it goes to far at either way with Cruachan it loses its power, when it gets too calm it loses power and sounds almost amateurish and it is just the same when it gets to extreme at the other direction with growls and more aggressive attacks to the music. When Keith Fay sings with an rough angry voice it works but the growls feels out of place for Cruachan. The thing I like the most about Cruachan is obviously the Celtic sense but when they are put aside for aggression it gets not as good and my interest gets lost.

Cruachan really brings nothing new to the genre but simply more of it, although the tracks A Thousand Years and Ard Ri Na Heireann has a more direct heavy metal approach with a great drive and the Celtic breaks and influences both tracks stands to be on the better half of the album. The instrumental 1014 A.D. is reminding very much of early Iron Maiden, just replace a guitar with a violin and throw in a touch of folk-music and you got a great instrumental track, it also reminds a lot of the instrumental track S.R.B. with the band Omen (The Curse 1986).
Absolute highlight apart from the instrumental is Some Say The Devil Is Dead, a traditional song with arrangement by Cruachan. This is how I expect Irish music to be, this is how I imagine an Irish pub where the Guinness is flowing and the whiskey is flowing even more and there is a band in the corner playing folk-music, well simply add the element of heavy metal and there you go. It even makes me that never dances wanna throw myself into a spontaneous riverdance/headbanging fury, it is brilliant.

Occasionally when you receive a promo there is a paper with info about the release that follows, and with Cruachan there is one that also includes selling points. I thought I should be lazy and just write some of them here as well, just to shed some more light on Cruachan for you: - Beautiful artwork created by the official Lord of The Rings illustrator John Howe (couldn't agree more on that one, just as powerful and mystical as the music is at times). - Ultimate crossover of Metallica-guitars and The Pogues-Folk (they are right about The Pogues part and if they mean how the garage days Metallica sound you comes pretty close there as well). - Will appeal to fans of Skyclad, The Levellers, Storm, The Pogues and anyone in Celtic imagery (they are probably right there as well, although Skyclad does this way much better). - This album will lead to serious partying and result in drunkenness (hell yeah, I can easily see that happen).

The biggest flaw with the album is the production, although it is their fourth album the sound is of demo-quality, a terrible sound that is like an underground band self-financed first demo. With more work on the production this could have been much better. Pagan from Cruachan is an interesting album but apart from the highlights I'm not really that amazed.

See also review of: The Morrigan's Call , The Middle Kingdom






5 chalices of 10 - Thomas

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