Eluveitie – Origins
Release Date: August 5, 2014
Eight-piece folk metal giant, Eluveitie, hit the metal scene in 2002 with a new and original sound never really heard before with this level of professionalism. In fact, thanks to the band’s success, a lot of people refer to this band as one of the original folk metal bands that really developed the sound we have all grown to know and love over the years. Eight members seems like overkill, but the band’s past member list is even larger, including instruments varying from the Irish bouzouki to the crumhorn to the hurdy gurdy, and everything in between. One of the band’s most iconic features is the fact that, yes they use keyboards and electronic elements, but a lot of their folk sound comes from actual instruments played by actual people. Though it sounds like a simple fact, it’s getting surprisingly more and more difficult to find this in the metal world.
Despite being around for 12 years, Eluveitie has completed six full length albums, with the most recent being Origins. All of their albums have been consistently strong and well-thought out, though the band set the bar very high with early releases Spirit and Slania. While Origins is no answer to either album, it is still a very well put together piece of art, and tells a wonderful story thanks to great voice acting.
The band’s current line-up includes voclaist and multi-instrumentalist Chrigel Glanzmann, drummer Merlin Sutter, guitarist Ivo Henzi, and Anna Murphy, who handles female vocals and the hurdy gurdy. All four have been with the band since its 2006 debut album. Joining the core-tet are long time members Kay Brem (bass) and Patrick Kistler (bagpipes, whistles). Joining the band for Origins are new lead guitarist, Rafael Salzman and violinist Nicole Ansperger.
The album kicks off with an intro track as their albums tend to do, and features a man speaking from the bible; “he who has ears to hear, let him hear,” which is revisited later in the album as well. The instrumentation, in true Eluveitie style, is top-notch and flows seamlessly into the next track, “The Nameless”. This track isn’t my favorite on the album, though I love the main melody from the flute in the forefront, the vocal work is weighed more-so on the melodic death metal side and just doesn’t flow for me. Immediately following are two very strong folk-driven songs “From Darkness” and “Celtos”, with catchy melodies and wonderful drumming. These songs have that traditional folk metal gallop, that brings the dancing elements out of the music.
Then comes the album single, “The Call of the Mountains” which is an undeniably gorgeous track. This song features the striking female vocals of Murphy, and contains such a large presence, it really manages to take over the album. However, to me, no matter the genre of metal, what you’re saying in a song is just as important as how you say it, and while the musical composition is great, the chorus seems to fall short for me. The song builds up so strongly through the verse, then the chorus seems to fade back with simple repetitive lyrics and “ooohs” and somewhat diminishes the strength of the song. Personally, I just feel the chorus could have been even bigger. However, the album quickly picks the melodic death metal aspect up a notch in “Sucellos” which features more themes from the bible in the lyrics. Through the beginning of the song, the drumming and guitar riffs truly drive this song, as the folk instruments take a back seat. However, towards the last half of the track, the song manages to grow even bigger with the addition of (what I believe to be) the hurdy gurdy and pipes.
The last half of the album is just as strong as the first with notable tracks, “The Silver Sister” which maintains a driving tempo with a soaring, catchy chorus, and “The Day of Strife” with a war-like feel. It’s safe to say my favorite song on the album has to be “King” that has a moderate tempo, which is where this band really shines in the blending of folk metal and melodic death metal. I could listen to the intro alone on repeat for hours, but of course when Glanzmann comes in he only makes the song stronger.
All in all, Origins is another strong release to add to the impressive Eluveitie discography. You must listen to the album from start to finish to really feel its progression and wonderful storytelling. While it’s not their strongest album, and does feature some questionable moments, it’s very enjoyable and absolutely a release to be proud of. I can’t help but wish that they would release this album in an entirely instrumental form so I could truly dive into this massive sound they have, and experience all of the skilled musicianship they have put into this. There are some moments that just sound so massive, it’s impossible to hear everything, which in no way is a bad thing!