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The Middle Kingdom
Woah, now this was a welcome surprise! When I first saw Cruachan’s album in my mailbox, I took one look at the cover and assumed that the band was just another power metal band clamoring for attention. One listen to the first track on the album proved me dead wrong! From Ireland, Cruachan play a stirring mix of metal and traditional Irish folk. The metal side of the equation is indeed made up of a number of power metal elements, but there is some black metal styling in there as well.
The album opens with a 4-minute bagpipe instrumental, “A Celtic Mourning”. Now, I like to think of myself as a pretty open-minded listener, but bagpipes are not something that I would put on for personal enjoyment. It’s a tribute to the band’s talents that I not only listened to the song, but like it as well! Anyway, most of the rest of the album feature the lovely vocals of Karen Gillligan, who reminds me slightly of Sharen Den Adel from Within Temptation. Most of the songs also highlight the use of Irish flute blended in with the guitars. On some songs, like “Celtica”, the flute is used as another voice to join with Karen’s. The effect is very cool and somehow uplifting.
The whole album bounds along like this until track seven, “The Middle Kingdom”, when guitarist Keith interjects his black vocals into the fray. For this song, it works, but for some reason, Karen is not heard from again on the album.
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