Released: 2007, Grau Records
Reviewer: J. Campbell
First and foremost, Mael Mordha absolutely kills live. My initial exposure to their Gaelic Doom Metal was at Heathen Crusade II, where they stole the show in the same roof-tearing fashion that their country mates Primordial had the year before. Clad in flowing robes and blue war paint, they completely dominated the stage and rocked the entire crowd from wall to wall. Following their raucous performance, I found myself among the sweaty mob of scavengers who assaulted the merch table and depleted their supply of CLUAIN TARBH, the Irishmen’s full-length. While the recording paled in comparison to their stage sound (per usual), it was a hell of a showcase for their power as well as their potential.
Their latest, GEALTACHT MAEL MORDHA, doesn’t stray from the formula laid out by the aforementioned album. This is a deliberate, crisp variety of doom not unlike that of Grand Magus, with speedier, stomping passages akin to Amon Amarth’s battle marches. What sets this band apart is the Irish soil embedded under their fingernails, and the blood of their ancestors that pulses to the tips of their fingers. These hands mold raw energy into heavy metal that is Gaelic in spirit, not just in form; there’s no gimmickry to be found here. While flourishes of piano and tin whistle glide in and out of the background, it spawns an atmosphere that is overwhelming in both its honesty and its purity,entirely free of excess.
Unavoidably, comparisons to Primordial will arise, especially in regards to Roibeard O Bogail’s towering, lecturing vocal delivery…but that’s just because they’re so bloody Irish. His performance is the brightest highlight of GAELTACHT MAEL MORDHA, without question, and shines through the album’s dry production. If for no other reason, this thing is worth the price of admission for his vocals alone.
Grau Records is becoming an excellent little European doom label, and Mael Mordha is an ideal fit for their roster. Hopefully they get them on the road soon, because that is where their true strength lies…and every metalhead across the globe should be awarded the experience of doom dancing Gaelic style. In all honesty, I’m a bigger fan of this band than I am of this album. This not the earth-shattering event I had hoped, but it’s still friggin’ mandatory.