Eluveitie is one of the more celebrated bands in all of Folk Metal, this definitely helps considering they actual use REAL folk instruments in the band. The band celebrates the release of their sixth album, Origins. While not straying too far off the path they helped create, the band has written an album that really speaks to the soul of their culture and shows it to a worldwide audience.
The album starts with an intro track called Origins. It definitely helps make the album feel like a concept album of sorts. The folk instruments come right in after the spoken word segments, slowly building up to a grand takeover. I have a pretty good feeling this will be the first track played on their upcoming touring cycle (either though the PA, live, or both). This goes right into The Nameless. A very strong and heavy track. Chrigel Glanzmann's signature vocal style of course fills the album, but it really sets the tone well for the album. The song itself is heavy, filled with blast beats, and of course a great folkish background that, like the rest of the album, helps the song feel very mystical. Next up is From Darkness. it starts off kinda similar to the previous track. Very fast tempo and mystical. It's a fun thrashy song as well. Celtos starts off a bit different with the first prominent vocal stylings of Anna Murphy. The song is much more midtempo and mellow. It's a nice break from the first couple assaulting tracks. Virunus starts off more mellow then after a short folk interlude, quickly picks up the pace. The song is a good contrast between fast thrashy riffs and folk driven midtempo stylings. Next is a short spoken word passage called Nothing and leads right into one of the strongest and catchiest songs on the album, The Call Of The Mountains. For a long time now, some of the strongest Eluveitie tracks are the ones that are predomently sung by Anna Murphy. This is definitely no exception. While the strong is no doubt more straight forward, it is a fine example of how the band can write Folk Metal that is catchy enough for anyone who enjoys almost any style of music can appreciate. Sucellos comes next and it starts off with some keyboard segments before the guitar riff, then the full fledged Death Metal assault. The song continues on the faster paced Eluveitie style that has become legendary. The next track, Inception, is no exception to this rule either. It's fast, heavy, folkish, and just plain killer. Vianna again is one of the catchiest songs on the album. It is partially, if not fully because of Murphy's angelic vocal styling. It is very midtempo and folky, but done so very, very right. Up next is The Silver Sister. This is a bit different than the other fast tracks on the album. It has more Melodic Death Metal feel to it. it also features one of the catchiest chorus sections on the album. The next song is King. It was the first song released on the album and in a sense, a song that is quite different than the rest of the album. It's a pace that's in between the fast tracks on the album, but nowhere near slow and mellow. A great solid track that is a nice break in the album. The Day Of Strife once again showcases Eluveitie's signature sound. Simply put a killer song. Ogmios is the next interlude song that features spoken word and soundscapes in the back leading into the final song, Carry The Torch. The song is quite an epic song to end on. It feels very triumphant and would definitely be a very crowd pleasing song live. It's midtempo, but a fantastic song to finish off the album. The album fully ends with the outro track, Eternity. It is the final spoken word interlude of the album. It finishes off with a Classical Folk arrangement that fully closes this chapter in the legacy of Eluveitie.
Origins may not be the most dynamic or creative work to date, but it is by far one of the most solid Eluveitie albums. Everything you love about the band is on this album, and done right. All that's left for you to do is to buy the album, spin it, and get ready for Eluveitie to come destroy you live in a city near you in this touring cycle. It will definitely be a memorable tour and a great album to tour behind.
Eluveitie- Origins available NOW via Nuclear Blast Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Alestorm has been the forefront of Pirate Metal since their inception in 2004, and to the worldwide public in 2008 with the release of their debut album, Captain Morgan's Revenge. Alestorm has return to shore with their 4th album, Sunset On The Golden Age. Alestorm has been written off as one trick ponies, but when you look past the lyrical content, they are so much more and Sunset on The Golden Age proves this fact.
The album starts with Walk The Plank. It starts off with triumphant, then goes straight into some thrashy goodness. The whole song sounds like it would be perfect as an opener for an Alestorm set. One very noticeable thing that is indeed a positive thing, and continues through the entire album, is that the keyboards are actually keyboards now. it's not just the accordion sounds that usually take over Alestorm songs. While the accordion sounds are still there at times, they not used nearly as much as past album. This really helps diversify their sound. Having Elliot Vernon on keys definitely helps diversify the sound. Up next is Drink, which is the lead single off the album. The lyrics are very quirky and sum up part of the Alestorm philosophy "WE ARE HERE TO DRINK YOUR BEER!". This song while a bit poppier than some fans would be used to, this should come as no shock. it's just a fun straight forward, drinking song to drink jig to. Magnetic North is the next song. it actually starts off very folky, which is kind of a shock for the band. The band is classified as a Folk Metal band, but don't usually have traditional folk instrumentation. The song is midtempo, but gets have danceable. One thing that does come as a shock is that the song actually features a breakdown section. it'll be interesting to see how that pans out live seeing Pirates throwing down for a little bit. *I obtain 20% of the sales if Alestorm makes a shirt that says "Walk The Plank, Bro!"* Overall again it's a fun song that will get the crowd jumping live. 1741 (The Battle of Cartagena) starts off 8 Bit style before kicking off into the song. the second longest song on the album does feel quite epic. This features Alestorm doing the best Pirate Metal they can do with all their signature notions all while giving you a history lesson about The Battle Of Cartagena. the song also features some growls in the middle as well, which is a rarity for the band up to this point. The song also features one of the best solos on the album performed by Dani Evans. After the mid paced attack that just happened, Mead From Hell takes over now and it is quite fast and very Power Metalish. If the title wasn't a dead give away, this song is about mead that leads you onto a mystical journey to Hell. This ranks up quite well in Alestorm's quirky drinking songs, fast fun and full of alcohol. Surf Squid Warfare is possibly the strangest song on the album. It is essentially Alestorm performing Surf Rock and Power Metal. it's quite surprising the band hasn't made a song like this before, but they finally did. it's hard to listen to it and not have a smile on your face. Next up is Quest for Ships. This is the most Power Metal song on the album. it feels like it harkens back to mid-era Sonata Arctica. The song is about...well what else...a quest for ships to sail the seas. It's another one of Alestorm's fast paced fun songs that will be fun to mosh to in the pit. Wooden Leg! comes up now and it is the shortest, and possibly fastest song on the album. By this point in the album if Mead from Hell, Surfing Squids and ship quests weren't whimsical enough for you, this song takes it up another notch. This song also features the only Blast Beats on the album (nicely played by Peter Alcorn). Once again, a great song to put a smile on your face. Hangover is up next and this is where Alestorm could have possibly jumped the shark (haha, references). As fun as the song is, it almost feels like an Electronic Dance Party song. It's as if Ke$ha wrote an Alestorm song. Only a band like Alestorm could pull off writing a song like this and still have their fans eat it up (or maybe they will hate it, only time will tell). Finally we reach the longest song ever written by Alestorm, the title track, Sunset On the Golden Age. The band isn't normally known for writing long songs (the longest being around the 7 minute mark. This takes epic to a whole new level at 11:26. This may be the finest song in Alestorm's history. It captures everything about the more serious side of the band. Heavy riffs, excellent songwriting, well thought out lyrics, and overall, a phenomenal song. This is the perfect ending song to a live set,right before the encores.
Alestorm stepped up their game with Sunset On the Golden Age. Lots of diversity, amazing songs, the most hilarious moments in the band's catalog, and overall 10 perfect Alestorm songs (Seriously though, Hangover will be the band's watershed moment. People will love it or hate it with a passion.) Alestorm, like fine alcohol, only improves with age, and this is the band at top form. Now go see them live when they start touring behind the album!
Alestorm- Sunset On The Golden Age Available August 1st via Napalm Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Panopticon plays a style of Metal that sounds so strange at the sound of the genre infusing, but makes total sense. They are a mix between Atmospheric Black Metal and American Bluegrass. Hopefully with something like that, it makes you jump up and go "WOAH, I GOTTA CHECK THAT OUT!" Their last album, Kentucky, was raised to major acclaim. Could Panopticon possibly be able to do this again with their new album, Roads To The North?
The album starts with the 9:36 song, The Echos Of A Disharmonic Evensong. it starts off quite strange before a longer drum fill leading into the whole band joining in. From this point onwards it shows the great mix of Atmospheric Black Metal with the folkish, Bluegrass tinge in the background. When the vocals aren't in motion the Bluegrass takes over with the Black Metal for a great atmospheric sound that fans of either genre could really appreciate. The middle of the song breaks down acoustically before gaining back the speed and Metal to help close out the song. Up next is the longest song on the album, Where Mountains Pierce The Sky. The song starts off with a great Folk/Bluegrass feel that really makes you feel like you are on the countryside just as it hits sundown. This does not last when the band finally kicks in at the 1:26 mark. Instead of kicking into full on Black Metal mode, it stays very midtempo and somewhat matches the Bluegrass in the beginning of the song. at the 3:36 mark it hits one of the most beautiful metal moments on the album where all the harmonies and melodies hit together and create a very surreal moment. Throughout the rest of the song it keeps up a faster tempo and adds a good atmospheric feel. At the very end of the song it leads into an acoustic guitar/fiddle riff that leads into the next song. That next song is called The Long Road, which is separated into three tracks, The Long Road I. One Last Fire is a campfire style song that focuses on the bluegrass instruments (Fiddle, Banjo, Acoustic Guitar, etc). This instrumental makes up the entire track that leads into The Long Road II. Capricious Miles, which starts with a ferocious drum intro and leads into one of the best riffs in the album. The track goes through many different variances in tempo and instrumentation. In the middle of the track, it gets quite ethereal. It almost feels like a section right out of Opeth's album, Damnation. This also continues until almost right near the end where the blast beats come back and lead onto the final tack of the song, The Long Road III. The Sigh Of Summer. This starts off very Post Rockish and ethereal. At the 3:00 mark it picks back up somewhat with the Black Metal feel, but still continues on the ethereal Post Rock in the background. A little over the half way mark it gets a bit into a early day In Flames type riff before unleashing a fantastic guitar solo filled with killer double bass and leading back into an incredible Black Metal/Bluegrass riff. The song ends with a tribal background with some marching soundclips to close things out. Norwegian Nights is the next song and it is a 3 minute killer Bluegrass song that oddly enough has some clean vocals. Very acoustic paced and a nice break from Metal. From out of nowhere, In Silence comes and is easily the heaviest opening on the entire album. It almost feels likes like a Brutal death Metal riff with atmospheric guitars and fiddle outlays. After the brutality, it goes into somewhat of a Post Rock feel again with Black Metal screams. This leads back into a rollercoaster of dynamics between Post Rock and Black Metal throughout the rest of the song. Near the end of the song it goes a bit lo-fi on the drums while the Bluegrass section takes over again before one final blast of brutality to close things out. The final tack on this album is Chase The Grain, which arguably may be the finest song from Panopticon to date. While the Metal section is doing a killer Atmospheric Black Metal riff, the Bluegrass section is over top doing amazing leads and adding real emotion that tugs at you. The entire song has this great feeling of epic emotions that can make you close your eyes, slowly raise your fist and nod your head slowly. at the 3:07 mark it breaks down into an acoustic passage. It kicks back into Black Metal mode shortly after, but in a nice left turn, things get very symphonic with a dark and eerie sound that leads into a sinister Symphonic Black Metal segment. Right before the end of the album things get back into a nearly normal state where it plays somewhat of a reprise of the first riff of the song before closing off with an acoustic guitar that fades away to finish of Roads To The North.
Roads To The North, much like it's predecessor, Kentucky, is a spellbinding album. It's enchanting and hypnotizing. If you give it a real shot, the mixture of Black Metal and Folk and Bluegrass is something that hasn't really been captured before in a memorable way. This could be the breakthrough album for Panopticon that could lead them into possible Deafheaven territory, where taking Black Metal into a new light can get some real recognition. This is not an album to miss out on, be sure to pick this up and enjoy every second of it!
Panopticon- Roads To The North available August 1st via Bindrune Recordings and Nordvis
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
Novembers Doom is a criminally underrated band that sadly doesn't get the amount of love that they should. For those unfamiliar with the band, Novembers Doom is a great blend of Doom (who'd guess by the by name, haha) Death, Progressive, and Folk Metal. On their latest album, Bled White the band expands even further in their sound and reaches what could possibly be their best work yet.
The album starts off with the title track, Bled White, And it is in traditional Novembers Doom style. Great dark riffing with the right amount of death growls and clean vocals (vocalist, Paul Kuhr is a master at both styles, which is hard to accomplish in this style). The next track is Heartfelt, and it showcases musically what Novembers Doom is best at, faster, but still midtempo, destruction of the soul. Just Breathe follows next and is a very dark song. Slow moving and a bit uneasy. The mid way point of the song is picks up the pace all while Kuhr keeps up is haunting clean vocals. The song changes variances a couple more times before closing out. Scorpius is a short acoustic guitar interlude that matches the theme of the album perfectly, then from out of nowhere comes Unrest. Unrest is a a nice, heavy, unrelenting song. Just overall awesome Novembers Doom goodness. The Memory Room is a bit of a different kind of track for the band. While the riff sounds similar to the song, Buried, off their last album Aphotic, it doesn't get entirely too heavy on this one. It is as if Novembers Doom was listening to the style of Alice In Chains. It's a nice change of pace as well. The Brave Pawn is one of the heaviest songs on the album and easily the fastest. Pure unadulterated chaos. Clear is another haunting somber song. It is another song that features Kuhr's cleans done properly. Mid tempo and done right. The Grand Circle is another slower song, much in the vein of Clear, but more vocally driven and does have growls in it as well. Animus starts off with a chilling clean guitar riff that just blasts into brutality shortly after. The whole song has the Death/Doom sound that Novembers Doom can master like no one else. The album ends with the longest song on the album, The Silent Dark. This 9:29 epic of a song starts off with haunting sounds with clean vocals. It's not until 2:42 where things up up and the song get heavy. The whole song has that feel that all good longer songs have where it's meant to be this long and doesn't get old. A great send off to a beautiful, heavy, and somber album. I wouldn't want a Novembers Doom album any other way.
Bled White may be the band's finest work to date and that really says a lot considering their back catalog. It is filled with some of the most tasteful guitar solos you will hear in the genre, masterful drumming, the perfect combination of clean and death vocals. If you haven't heard of the band yet, this is the perfect album to start with. If you have, this will be the best one you hear.
Novembers Doom- Bled White available NOW via The End Records
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)
As many of you reading this know, I am very fortuneate to be able a lot of the band who come to the Twin Cities area. Unfortunately due to this show being the day of touring, an interview was not possible, but it was still a spectacular night for any Agalloch fan.
The first band up was Blood and Sun, they describe themselves as a Heathen Folk band. They were Acoustic Guitar, Cello, Violin (on half the set and Timpini (with a suspended cymbal). They were indeed as they described. to me it became to monotonous after a couple songs and with their possible and questional, hateful background (that's all the farther I will go into the topic) it made their set not enjoyable for me.
Next up was Obsidian Tongue. They are a 2 man Atmospheric Black Metal band. Just guitar/vocals and Drums. They are absolutely mindblowing live. Both of the guys know how to whip the crowd into a frenzy druing the fast sections and calm them down during the mellow passages. I do not know any of the songs they played as it was my first time seeing them and I had just discovered them, but I highly recommend checking these guys out both live and on record. It's a real treat for any Atmospheric Black metal fan.
Finally the night ended with Agalloch. It was their first time in Minnesota, to which they even said a couple songs in was a huge mistake on their part not playing here sooner. Agalloch mainly stuck to their two last albums, which to me is not disappointing as I love both of them. They did play some deepr cuts off albums like Pale Folklore and The Mantle as well, which were some of the biggest highlights to me. The biggest highlight of all was when they played Into A Painted Grey, the first song I ever heard from the band. The only disappointing factor in the show was a very annoying couple that was standing next to my girlfriend and myself. My girlfriend named them Douche Bro and Tits Magee. Both were drunk the whole Agalloch set, Tits being the bigger fan kept bumping into my girlfriend with said thingees and was cheering waaaaaaay too loudly for even the biggest Agalloch fan. Douche Bro was being what his name implied and was shouting for songs in between songs, but in stereotypical fashion it was songs like Free Bird, ...And Justice For All, and Nailed to The Cross. At one point John Hauhgm said "Sorry we don't play Free Bird anymore" but did play a riff from AJFA. Overall they put on a spectacular set. I would even dare venture to say those who don't enjoy the latest album from Agalloch, The Serpent & The Sphere, may be won over by the songs live. I know a lot of people bagging on the album before their set were won over afterwards.
Merch had a few shirts for $15, a longsleeve for $25, Vinyl for $30, CDs for 20-25 (Depending on what you got) A logo patch for $5 and a back patch for $10. I picked myself up an Agalloch shirt which I am currently wearing.
All in all if this is coming anywhere by you, I highly advise going. And get to the show early because tickets may be sold out by the time Agalloch hit the stage.