Release Date: April 18th, 2011
I’m usually a fan of the more straight forward death metal acts, but I decided to step out of my comfort zone and give Dublin, Ireland’s Cruachan a listen. Their new album, and sixth overall, Blood on The Black Robe combines traditional black metal with celtic and irish influences. The results speak for themselves. Simply put this album is creative, fun, and inspiring, and it’s slated to become a gem in the collection of black metal and celtic metal fans alike.
Blood on the Black Robe isn’t your traditional black metal album, nor is it your traditional celtic metal album. Think Finntroll meets newer Bathory, with some hints of Celtic Frost, maybe some Enslaved, and that’s about the closest comparison that can be given. The music combines traditional heavy guitar riffing with some more exotic instrumentation, including bozouki, tin whistle, fiddle, and banjo. The musicians that play those instruments are masters at their craft as well. Founder and vocalist Keith Fay, and John Ryan Will perform multi-instrumentalist duties throughout the album. Rounding out the lineup is bassist John Clohessy and drummer Colin Purcell, as well as tin-whistler John O’Fathaigh. Female vocalist Karen Gilligan has left the band, leaving full-time vocals duties to Fay.
Particularly enjoyable on the album was the use of traditional Irish instrumentation accompanying the more traditional instruments of heavy metal. For example, tracks like the instrumental “Brian Boru’s March” features a traditional Irish style introduction, which segues into blistering guitar accompaniment. “Primeval Odium” is a more in the style of traditional black metal, but we see the fiddle make an appearance as a lead instrument, with the guitars pushed to the background. Also in the straight up black metal category on this album, “Pagan Hate” brings to mind old school Celtic Frost with added violin accents. Recording wise, the album as a whole never gets repetitive or boring – it’s rare and refreshing to find an album that’s simply damn fun to listen to.
Cruachan’s Blood on the Black Robe is a refreshing and highly entertaining dose of Celtic and black metal straight from Dublin. Fans of either of these genres of metal will enjoy this album immensely. While it’s not quite as impressive as the Primordial’s Redemption at the Puritan’s Hand, I’d eagerly recommend it to just about any open minded metal head out there simply for the sheer talent these guys possess. Definitely step out of the box and give Cruachan a listen. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing much more of these guys in the years to come.
Highlights : Brian Boru’s March, Pagan Hate, Primeval Odium
Rating : 8.3/10