Released: 2014, Nuclear Blast
In a relatively short period of time Eluveite crawled it’s way to the top of the second wave of folk/pagan/viking bands. The Swiss band is very prolific and have released nine things in ten years, be it, an EP or Live albums, or compilations or reissues, or re-recorded versions…this band is all about product on the market! The pace is relentless and the band has just released their sixth studio album, simply entitled ORGINS.
The title and artwork are pretty uninspired, I much prefer the older cover art and pagan imagery of the first four albums. There are a few groups, Eluveitie included that really sort of transcened the traditional concept of a group, especially when you have six, seven, eight, nine ten members each person contributing one little part. The line-up is pretty much the same as on the last album HELVETIOS with the exception of a new violin player, Nicole Ansperger. ELUVEITIE has always been the creation of Chrigel and a cynic might ask does it really matter who played the tin-whistle or hurdy gurdy on the latest Eluveitie album?
ORIGINS is quite long, the 16 songs run just under an hour but many of those cuts are part of the narration and sound effects and so forth. The songs are still largely Gothenburg style, melodic Death Metal fully integrated with the vast multitude of traditional instruments the band have always used; fiddles, flutes, cello, and so on. The band use more narration and children’s choirs on this record, which really adds some atmosphere. Some of the cuts like’ ‘Call Of The Mountains’ are a bit of a play for a more commercial sound, with Ana Murphy on vocals and the backend of the cut loaded with the choir. Other songs such as ‘Sucellos’ with minimal instrumentation suffer from that very fact because it is the extra parts that help bring these simple songs alive. The lead vocals are still, thankfully quite harsh and the barked vocal lines help retain a sense of heaviness that is at times diminished with all the narration, clean female vocals and children’s voices. I think they found a pretty balance in the multiple vocal styles.
While I rarely let the opinions of other critics influence my reviews but I must admit I have noticed a trend that ORIGINS is not being as well received as earlier albums. In this I refer to long time fans, not the general public. In terms of mainstream attention, ORIGINS went to #1 in Switzerland, in a nation whose heavy music charts are usually dominated by hard rockers Krokus and Gotthard. The album charted well all over Europe, so it may well be the grumbling of a few older fans who don’t like the slightly mellower direction. Perhaps the excitement of the bands early sound is diminishing because there is a little evolution between records, or perhaps there is such a glut of these types of bands the market right now, that everyone is picking their favourites. I feel ORIGINS is as good as anything they have done, the narration helping bring diversity to an album that is still high quality folk/pagan Metal.