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Friday, March 30, 2012

Eluveitie- Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion

Source: Wikipedia
Album:  “Evocation I:  The Arcane Dominion”

Artist:  Eluveitie

Year:  2009

Score:  80/100

“An Interesting Acoustic Folk Metal Release”

If I was pressured to summarize “Evocation I” in just a few words, I would say that it’s a poppy acoustic folk metal album.  I highlight the metal part of this description, because this is essentially a collection of brief folk metal songs played acoustically.  Songs like “Brictom” and “Omnos” would’ve been great on any other Eluveitie album, had they been enhanced with the usual electric guitars.  In fact, I’m pretty sure there’s a metal version of “Omnos” that the band recorded.  With all of this being said, it is important to recognize that this is an acoustic album.  For this reason, I have scored it very objectively.  It is definitely a good album for what it is, but it’s not something I’ll listen to frequently because of its lack of metallic elements.  Nevertheless, I do enjoy it when I give it a listen.

There’s not much to speak of instrumentally.  The traditional folk instruments are the primary sounds that grace the album.  Because of this, the melodies are amongst the most enchanting the band has ever done.  The guitars, when used, are generally acoustic.  They are most often limited to strumming basic chords.  The main function of the guitars is seemingly to add a little extra punch to the music.  There’s a small acoustic solo at the end of “Voveso in Mori”, and it’s a very refreshing change from the folk instruments in the rest of the songs.

In terms of the actual songs, there are hits and misses.  Some of them are full length songs with clearly defined structures, while others are merely short instrumentals.  Ten of the fifteen songs are under four minutes, and five of these are under three minutes.  Most of the vocals are done by Anna Murphy, which is a strong departure from Eluveitie’s characteristic growls.  There are still a few grunts scattered about the songs, which is interesting considering the acoustic music.  Additionally, the female vocals are unconventional in some places which adds to the feeling of the music.  The lyrics are nearly entirely in Gaulish, a dead language.  I have always loved the Eluveitie songs done in Gaulish, as it is a beautiful sounding language.  One issue that is oftentimes present on Eluveitie albums is that the songs do blur together after a while.  On “Evocation I”, this is not too prominent; however, I still feel that it’s worth mentioning.

I can’t exactly pinpoint a favorite song, though I’d probably say “Brictom” if I was asked.  The song has many hypnotic folk melodies and some of the most prominent guitar portions on the album.  I also enjoy the layered vocals during the chorus.  It is quite simple and poppy, but it does its job very well.  If the band ever redid this as a metal song, I would be eager to hear it.  “Omnos” is the big hit of the album, and it’s much like “Brictom”.  However, it lacks the darker feel of that song and it’s much more mainstream sounding.  I believe “Omnos” was originally intended to be a metal song, and there’s a version in which the song has heavy guitars and a few growls.  “Carnutian Forest” is a beautiful instrumental piece (there’s singing towards the end, but it’s mostly instrumental).  There’s some whispering in the background of the song, which really adds to the mood.  It’s one of the better songs, for sure.  “Dessumiis Luge” is one of the most haunting songs on the album. The vocals are creepy as well as the aggressive nature of the music.  The opening song, “Sacrapos- At First Glance” has some of the strangest narrations I’ve ever heard in a song.  “The Arcane Dominion” is another notable song, as it features both harsh and clean vocals.  It’s also the longest on the album.  “The Cauldron of Renascence” is also very good for what it is.  It’s quite happy sounding, reminding me almost of a Korpiklaani instrumental.  “Voveso in Mori” is the song that oddly sounds most like a ballad.  The guitar solo is beautiful, though a little generic.  I think it’s one of the key songs of the album, though not necessarily one of the best.

Overall, “Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion” is a good release when one looks at what the purpose of the album was.  People expecting crushing guitars and growls will not enjoy this.  Structurally, many of the songs would have done well with guitars and other instrumentation but they do work well in acoustic form.  For these reasons I would only recommend “Evocation I” to die-hard Eluveitie fans.  My score of 80/100 is mainly objective, as the album is not the most enjoyable to me but I cannot deny that it is a solid release.  In terms of effort and songwriting, it sits right in the middle of Eluveitie’s discography.  It can get monotonous at times, but it listens fairly well throughout the course of the album.

Thanks for reading!  Comments are always appreciated!

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