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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Eluveitie- Spirit

The artwork for "Spirit".
Source: Wikipedia

 Band:  Eluveitie

Album:  Spirit

Year: 2006

Score:  98/100

“Their Masterpiece”

Eluveitie have made several good albums since they were formed, but none of them are as good as “Spirit”.  It is simply their most diverse and (along with their “Ven” EP) their rawest and heaviest work.  “Spirit”, essentially, takes everything that was good about their aforementioned EP and expands on it.  There is hardly any filler to be found here, and most of the songs present a wonderful combination of folk and melodic death metal.

Instrumentally, “Spirit” is somewhat similar to most of Eluveitie’s albums.  The guitars generally play a rhythmic role in the songs.  They have a greater presence on “Spirit”, which really leads to my enjoyment of the album.  There are a few more lead guitar lines scattered throughout this release than on others by the band.   The only downfall to the guitars is that they are still fairly simplistic and they also sound a bit sloppy on this release.  Sometimes this is hardly noticeable, but it is evident enough on some of the songs to be mentioned.  Occasionally, the sloppiness plays to the album’s advantage and adds to the charm.  The bass is existent, but does not play an important role in the songs.  It’s not really needed, nor is it missed.  The drums are well done.  They are speedier on this one, more reminiscent of death metal.  I’ve always thought Eluveitie’s drummer is pretty good, and this album is no exception. The drumwork did improve later on, but it’s certainly not disappointing on “Spirit”.  Vocally, the album is very good also.  I’ve always been a fan of Chrigel’s growls; he has a good texture to his voice that sets him apart from other vocalists.  There are also some female vocals on some of the tracks.  These improved on their later albums with the addition of a new vocalist, but they are still well done here.  These vocals mostly serve the purpose of enhancing the diversity and authenticity of the album.  As usual with Eluveitie, the folk instruments are well done.  They are especially atmospheric on “Spirit”, and really add a lot to the songs.  The hooks and melodies to each of the songs are primarily done on the folk instruments.

In comparison to their later work, “Spirit” sounds more authentic.  The guitars are harder and the folk instrumentation provides a much greater sense of atmosphere.  In fact, “Spirit” is easily the most atmospheric of all Eluveitie releases.  Where the atmosphere on their later work was destroyed by a polished production job, the rawness of this album brings out the atmosphere in all of the compositions.  The songs can be mostly divided into two different styles- folk metal songs and interludes (there are only 3 of these, but still…).  Of the fully metal songs, some are more creative than others.  Songs such as “Siraxta” and “The Endless Knot” offer a different take on the style utilizing clean vocals and more complex structures, while others such as “Your Gaulish War” are fairly standard melodeath songs with added folk instrumentation that hint at Eluveitie’s future style.  The instrumentals are rather well done, perhaps better than on any other Eluveitie album.  The closing song, “Andro”, is my favorite of these as the melody is immensely catchy.  I have also noticed that there are cleaner, folkier parts within the metal songs than on later releases.  For example, several songs have clean intros to them.  This adds variety to the album, and sometimes helps the less impressive songs out.

On an individual basis, most of the songs have something unique to offer.  “Uis Elveti” is the first real song on the album, and it sets the stage for the rest of the album with a bang.  The vocal delivery is quite unique, with rhythmic growling during the verses and a chanted chorus.  Notable is the use of Gaulish lyrics in the song, something the band is famous for.  It remains one of my favorites from the band.  The next song, “Your Gaulish War”, sounds a lot like the songs on “Slania”.  This being said, it is very good but not as unique as the previous songs.  It’s as catchy as it can be, but the metal components of the song are not very exciting and the vocal structure and delivery is very predictable.  There’s some good guitar riffing a bit over halfway through the song, which leads into more of an atmospheric part complete with battle sounds.  “Of Fire, Wind and Wisdom” comes next, and this is easily one of my all time favorite Eluveitie songs.  The main melody of the song is absolutely infectious, and it has some of the best guitar riffing on the whole album.  The chorus, as well as the verse, is phenomenal.  Additionally, I love the spoken part at the beginning- right before the song fully kicks into gear.  “Aidu” follows, it’s an atmospheric folk piece with some female vocals added.  Personally, I think this particular song could have benefited if the vocals had not been included.   Essentially, it’s worth a listen but it’s definitely not one of the best on the whole album. 

The second half of the album begins with “The Song of Life”.  It’s more in the vein of “Your Gaulish War”, although the chorus is better than on that song.  It’s also got some very happy sounding folk melodies.  Not a bad song by any means.  “Tegernako” is another similar song, although it’s got a bit more diversity to it.  I particularly love the folk instruments in this one; they are well utilized and blend very well with each other and the guitars.  I think “Tegernako” is superior to “The Song of Life”.  Coming up next is “Siraxta”.  This one took a while to grow on me, but it turned out to be one of my favorites from the album.  This is a good example of the more creative and progressive style of the album.  The masterful combination of female vocals and death growls makes the song very good.  It also flirts more heavily with contrasting (soft to heavy) parts than any of the other songs on the album.  It turns into a full-fledged metal song near the end, just before concluding with a soft folk portion.  “The Dance of Victory” is closer to “Tegernako” and “Your Gaulish War” than anything else.  It is well performed, but not as memorable as songs like “Uis Elveti” and “Siraxta”.  Still, there are few complaints that I have with it.  “The Endless Knot” is the last non-instrumental song on the album.  This one might just be my favorite of the whole album.  It is more instrumentally driven than most of the songs on the album.  It also has some fantastic changes in pace.  The chorus combines male chanting and female vocals.  It is also one of the longest songs on the entire release, coming in at almost seven minutes (rather long for an Eluveitie song).  All in all it’s a beautiful piece, and a fitting end to the album.  The album closes with the instrumental, “Andro”.  It’s a great folk metal song with a good melody.

Overall, “Spirit” is a phenomenal folk metal album.  It is easily one of the best from its genre, as well as the best and most intriguing Eluveitie album.  It’s harsh and atmospheric with interesting and catchy songs.  In my eyes, it is the most unique thing Eluveitie has ever created.  It is really set apart from their other work.  Although I love many of their later albums, “Spirit” will always be my favorite.  I recommend it to fans of folk metal, though most will have heard it.  Finding a copy is very hard these days, but it is worth a thorough listen.  To anyone who likes this album the follow-up, “Slania”, is nearly as good.

Best songs:  “The Endless Knot”, “Of Fire, Wind and Wisdom”, “Uis Elveti”, “Siraxta”, “Tegernako”, “Your Gaulish War”, “The Dance of Victory”, “The Song of Life”, and “Andro”.

Thanks for reading, be sure to comment!

Read my other Eluveitie reviews:
Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion

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