Eluveitie – Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion Review

Originally written by Ross Main.

Nothing says you’re Swiss like a small note on your website reading “Eluveitie consider themselves a neutral band on topics [such] as politics and religion!” So assuming crypto-fascist enlightenment isn’t on the cards, where does this band source their lyrical inspiration? Archaeological excavated pottery with impossible to translate writings? Good guess.

Eluveitie have made some pretty bold statements about themselves, boasting uniquity and responsibility for the apparent “New Wave of Folk Metal.” They’re maybe being slightly bedazzled, but every good word spoken of their folk-fused Gothenburg-metal sound is true, and they are most definitely one of the brighter flames emitting from the crowded pagan/folk metal campfire. An 8-strong army of multifaceted musicians and vocalists, they’re one member short of being the Celtic Slipknot; the only band that could really make you JUMP DA FOLK UP.

However, in favor of the exciting direction of 2006’s Spirit and 2008’s Slania comes this no-metal all-acoustic relic of a third album. I hate seeing bands being punished for moving directions on previous success, so Evocation I – The Arcane is only bending my bow just now because it’s just not very entertaining. I’m not entirely sure I’ve come across a shrinker before – a shrinker being the opposite of a grower – but the more I listen, the less I understand its real purpose.

Having recently reviewed Elvenking’s distressing attempt at an acoustic album, Eluveitie at least deserve praise for producing a record that is held together very well by a strong theme and a consistent musicality. The Celtic sounds brought to table from the weird and wonderful instrumentation of the band, and extensive list of guest musicians, serves up the told tale of Gaulish mythology as the genuine article, with an almost academic level of research and understanding behind it.

The nomination for Most Pain-Staking Measures Taken to Ensure Authenticity was really clinched by the use of ancient Gaulish lyrics, sung brightly by Anna Murphy, in between the drone-riffing of her Hurdy Gurdy. But, unlike the natural sounding lingual dabblings of bands like Orphaned Land, there is an obtuse frustration and lack of affinity to the lyrical sounds, possibly routed in a few tacky Euro-pop moments – but they can offer some unique opportunities for involvement. Singing along to a track like “Omnos”, in a language spoken 2000 years ago in Western Europe, is an absorbing experience and a true demonstration of the song’s melodic strength.

The detail gone into this record is impressive, but you can’t help but feel Eluveitie have made something better suited for a library shelf than a CD collection. The stronger tracks like “Gobanno,” “Memento” and “Brictom” are the impulsive folk jams; tapping feet and reacting with musical chemistry, not the slow spiritual-sounding fillers, which trip up momentum around every second corner. The occasional fond-and-familiar poking of Christian “Chrigel” Glanzmann’s gnarling growls are the only aggressive link to their previous sound, and whilst fans of the folk metal scene will geek over the Irish tones of Alan Averill’s (Primordial) monologue on album opener “Sacrapos – At First Glance,” the less said about his numbed wailing on “Nata”, the better.

Great albums based on mythology and history are everywhere, but whilst the themes on Evocation I… are rock solid, they are not easily accessible and make little effort to meet the listener half way, leaving this record to indulge too far in it’s own interest. I’m sure this will hit the mark with a select group, but for a Nuclear Blast squad member, Evocation II should hopefully be more “musical hook” and less audiobook.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

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