Eluveitie: To Flush or Not to Flush
Several years ago, there was an explosion in folk metal. Hundreds of crappy bands using keyboards instead of authentic folk instruments were passing themselves off as “folk metal”. Most of those groups faded into obscurity and only the class acts remain. Eluveitie is one of those acts. Mixing elements of melodic death metal and authentic folk instruments, Eluveitie has released their sixth full-length album Origins which combines elements of melodic death metal with authentic folk instruments to create a truly unique sound that guides you through a journey into the old times when the land was still young.
Origins begins with the title track “Origins”. It is the gateway to our passage into the land of the Celts. The tension brews as an old man and little girl prepare us for the victorious explosion released in the next track. “The Nameless” announces it’s arrival with a triumphant blast of everything that makes Eluveitie great. The violin, flute, bagpipes, and hurdy gurdy all sing before the vocals abrasively attack. Eluveitie worship a god using modified phrases that can be found throughout many ancient texts such as the Bible. Phrases include, “Holy father in darkness, hallowed be thy name,” as well as, “You’re the primordial one who was, who is and is to come.” The track fades at the sound of thunder and enters into a jolly little tune signaling the next song.
“From Darkness” proceeds to tell us of the origins of all life from darkness. The seed sprouts from the soil where light does not reach. Midway through the song, one of the most beautiful violin solos I’ve ever heard screams it’s way across the stratosphere until the uplifting chorus returns. The song quickly comes to an end and a sudden jig sung in Gaelic (I think) begins. “Celtos” is a song about a royal family from what I can ascertain from the chorus. The lyrics aren’t online at the moment so I can’t find a translation. “Celtos” has one of the more memorable choruses from this album and the lyric pattern reminds me of something Ensiferum might have done. As the beauty of “Celtos” ends, so begins “Virunus”. A song of battle this is. A brief flute solo makes a nice contrast to the bombast brought by the guitar and lyrics that soon follow it. The song tells the tale of a man who sets out to protect his village from a great boar. The exceptional voice acting comes in as a narrator which sets up the final chorus for a triumph rather than an anticipation. The last minute of the song ends with a delightful folk medley that is like honey to the ears. The song fades into the first interlude called “Nothing (Intermezzo)”. Another excellent voice actor somberly explains a philosophical fact: Everything that is here today will be gone and forgotten; what will be will be influenced by what is around us today. A sad flute plays in the midst of a violent wind storm until a the most beautiful track of the album begins.
Anna Murphy’s incredible vocals soar out in “The Call of the Mountains”. Murphy explains a problem that still affects almost anyone in hard times, particularly many soldiers. The hope that we attain when we draw strength through the thoughts of our homes and loved one’s are sometimes all that keeps us going when faced with extreme adversity. The call of the mountains is all that gives hope to the soldiers mentioned in this song. As the sound of children singing fade the track, a hellish background opens up “Sucellos”. A deep guitar tone roars out with the sound of battle. The song tells us about the Sucellos, the Celtic God of Agriculture. If you were a farmer in that time period, Sucellos would have been your god of choice. With his great hammer, he would protect the crops of his followers. As the infernal riff chugs on, we get a great Gaelic chanting section. I found the chorus to be interesting as it is yet another reference to the Bible, specifically, Psalm 23-28 which states, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.” The song ends with the same creepy ambient piece that was presented at the beginning of the song.
“Inception”, like it’s predecessor, opens up hard with another heavy riff and bout of screaming. This song appears to be about that lack of concern that the gods place upon the humans. This song is catchy and has a great riff but it doesn’t do much to stand out and make it shine unlike so many of the other track. “Vianna” is the next track and feature’s Anna Murphy almost solely. A beauty and the beast style vocalization goes on in the chorus which works quite well to contrast the beauty of the clean singing with the harsh cruelty of the death growls. This song appears to be a reminiscent song about a woman’s child. The final chorus peacefully puts a cork on the song. “The Silver Sister” starts slow but builds up to what I like to call a “popcorn riff”. It seems to jump up and down but never really go anywhere. The lyrics are interesting as they’re aren’t too many extreme metal bands that write love songs unless it is about necrophilia. The song picks up toward the end but ends before I can start really digging it.
A wall of bad-ass beats us next with “King”. This song tells the story of King Ambicatus. He controlled the most powerful tribe in a military alliance. This is one of my favorite songs on the album. The riffs are varied enough to make it satisfying and the chorus has a sound which I can only describe as a cry of freedom. It feels as though the chorus would be used as Ambicatus’ national anthem had it been presented to him. As if this weren’t enough, halfway through the song an incredible violin solo dances about wildly. The delightful song unleashes the final chorus and heads into “The Day of Strife”. Recompense is paid out to two tyrants who were conquered.
The scathing condemnation and glorious cheer dances on until a the end where the second interlude track called “Ogmios (Intermezzo)” unleashed a magnificent quote in the vein of something Sun Tzu might say. The quote reads, “The godly tongue distills honey, mankinds tether of amber and gold. This is my verdict, for neither are kingdoms conquered by iron, nor dies the might by the spear. Men are felled by what they fall to believe in.” The final full track begins. “Carry the Torch” is entirely in another language, presumably Gaelic. After a short instrumental, a very determined sounding riff sounds. The chorus sounds glorious. It fills my mind with visions as a glorious warrior holding up a banner of victory as his horse rears on the top of a hill. Sword held high, he screams in triumph and beckons his newly freed people to return to their land. The final chorus makes me want to scream along with it. Upon it’s completion, “Eternity” comes in for one last pass. At the beginning of this song, I feel exhausted. The old man narrator returns for one final epic regaling of things that once were and are to come. The final instrumental flourish utilizes what sounds like a full-on orchestra and is so beautiful that is almost brought me to tears. It is the perfect way to end the album.
I think this is the best effort that Eluveitie has ever released. Everything is spot on. The lyrics are meaningful, the production pleases me, all of the folk instruments are played in the perfect parts and nothing feels amiss or boring. The vocals are better than ever, harsh and clean. The new violinist and guitarist stepped up and delivered what the fans of Eluveitie wanted. If you haven’t listened to Eluveitie or disliked their previous work, I urge, I beg of you to listen to this album. It is a truly beautiful piece of art that feels nearly perfect. Eluveitie has achieved their sound and have forged an album that will forever remain in my greatest folk metal of all time.
Eluveitie’s Origins gets a
Eluveitie’s Origins is out August 1st worldwide, August 4th in England, Scotland, and Ireland, and August 5th in North America.
Stream Origins here
Buy Origins here