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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Eluveitie- Slania

Source: Wikipedia

Album: Slania

Artist:  Eluveitie

Year: 2008

Score:  96/100

“An Excellent Folk Metal Album”

Eluveitie have always been one of my favorite folk metal bands.  While they’ve had some mediocre work over the years, I’ve found the bulk of their material to be very enjoyable.  Their blend of melodic death metal and folk music is generally impressive, though the metal part of their music is lacking on certain releases.  “Slania” is their third release, and their second full length album.  It’s about on par with “Spirit”, though maybe a little less inspired.  It certainly tops “Ven” and “Everything Remains (As It Never Was)”.  This being established, “Slania” is one of my favorite Eluveitie releases.

The majority of the songs on “Slania” are catchy and follow a similar formula.  Normally, this might hinder a release, but Eluveitie are just so good at what they do.  Despite the similar structure of the songs, there are little things that set them apart.  Compare the subdued chorus of “Gray Sublime Archon” to the harshness of “Bloodstained Ground” to the beauty of “Slanias Song” and it’s easy to see the diversity of the album.  This is something that I didn’t even pick up the first time I listened to it, but it’s much clearer after having listened to it over a period of time.  Surprisingly for this band, the instrumentals are placed rather well.  I enjoy both the beginning and the ending instrumental pieces (especially the ending one).  However, “Anagantios” goes on too long for its own good and “Giamonios” seems a little pointless.  Like I said though, they are placed well in the album and they don’t interrupt it too much.  Much of the appeal in the album is through the excellent songwriting.

Instrumentally, the album is at least decent.  The guitars, while generic, are certainly enjoyable.  They’re definitely better than on the release that follows, and there are a few good bits and pieces.  Most of the songs are driven by the folk melodies, something this band is generally good at.  I enjoy all of the folk instruments on the album; they mix them in perfectly with the guitars and growls.  Another thing that I’m particularly impressed by is the drums.  They’re actually quite good, and the subtle changes in the drum work really propel the songs forward.  As always, I love Chrigel Glanzmann’s growls.  He’s got a very unique harsh vocal style, and he goes from a lower voice to a higher growl with ease.  I also enjoy the female vocals on “Slanias Song”.  Anna Murphy sounds very good on this song, in particular.  She doesn’t try to do anything fancy with her voice, and thus the vocals sound very pure.  They suit this style of music very well.

Nearly all of the songs are enjoyable.  “Primordial Breath” is a standard Eluveitie song, and it’s quite good for what it is.  It’s a great introduction to the album, and one of my favorites.  “Primordial Breath” also features some furious riffing towards the beginning.  “Bloodstained Ground” is a highlight for sure, with one of the best Eluveitie choruses of all time.  During said chorus, the folk instruments are mixed perfectly with the vocals and guitars.  This particular song is very aggressive, especially during the verses.  There is some good double-bass work on the drums.  “Gray Sublime Archon” has some memorable guitar work, and a very relaxed sounding chorus.  It’s always been one of my favorites from the release.  “Slanias Song” might just be my absolute favorite from the album.  Even though it’s sung completely in Gaulish, it’s very catchy and memorable.  I’ve always enjoyed the riff under the harsh vocals in this one, it’s pretty good.  The majority of “Slanias Song” is sung by Anna, and the change in vocal style really makes it stand out from the rest of the songs.  Despite being the hit song, “Inis Mona” is nowhere near being the best song on the album.  It’s definitely catchy and entertaining, but it’s nothing special when compared to the rest of the work on the album.  “Calling the Rain” is another one of my personal favorites from “Slania”, it’s got some good folk instrumentation as well as one of the best Eluveitie choruses.  “Tarvos” and “The Somber Lay” are, again, standard Eluveitie songs.  Both of these are rather harsh songs, with great vocals.  The album bows out with the instrumental, “Elembivos”.  Although it’s six and a half minutes long, it doesn’t get boring.  The guitar solo during this song, while generic, is definitely a highlight of the album.

I would say that “Slania” is pretty essential for fans of the folk metal genre.  “Spirit” might be a little more unique, but it’s so hard to find these days that new listeners will probably want to go with this one instead.  “Slania” is so much better than “Everything Remains (As it never was)”, and I strongly advise new listeners to give this one a shot first.  “Slania” is a great album filled with outstanding vocals, and memorable melodies.  I’m glad to find that the new album, “Helvetios”, is nearly on par with this.

Best songs:  “Primordial Breath”, “Gray Sublime Archon”, “Bloodstained Ground”, “The Somber Lay”, “Slanias Song”, “Tarvos”, “Calling the Rain”, and “Elembivos”.

Negatives/Worst Songs:  “Anagantios” and “Giamonios”.

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