Eluveitie - Slania
Nuclear Blast
12 songs (48:42)
Release year: 0
Eluveitie, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by James

Melodeath. Every week it seems like there's a new raft of bands with slick, shiny, soulless cover art, a slick, shiny, soulless production job, and an album's worth of unused In Flames and At The Gates riffs. Swiss band Eluveitie aim to stand out from the melodeath masses by blending it with erm, folk elements. Folk metal seems to be equally overcrowded at the moment, so I suppose you could say originality is not Eluveitie's strong point.

While the concept of fusing traditional Helvetian instrumentation and melodeath sounds like an absolute mess on paper, here, somehow, it works. While it would have been easy to have the folk instrumentation overpower the rest of the music, and utilize it solely as a novelty, Eluveite use them in a way that most bands use keyboards, adding a little extra melody to the sound without completely saturating it (although we do have some pure folk interlude tracks like Angantios and Giamonos). The folk isn't used in a fun, jaunty, way like for example, Finntroll. The arrangements tend to be fairly somber, certainly not something you'd dance a jig or raise a horn of mead aloft to.

The metal element of this album really is fairly standard melodic death metal. There's nothing anyone with even a passing interest in melodeath hasn't heard before (I'll be honest with you, I don't generally listen to this sort of music at all, and even I could tell there wasn't any new ground being broken here). A good chunk of Bloodstained Ground is so reminiscent of Blinded By Fear, I was sorely tempted to bark “THE FACE OF ALL OF YOUR FEARS!!!” all over it. Still, the combination of growls and blastbeats with Iron Maiden-esque melodic widdly bits is a thrilling one when done properly, and tracks like The Somber Lay and particular highlight Tarvos are massively enjoyable headbangers.

Slania's Song is probably the best example of what the band were trying to go for here. It's here that the band do a proper attempt at mixing folk and melodic death metal, with the bagpipes and hurdy-gurdys feeling like an integral part of the music, rather than merely an addition to it. It's also a true nod to the band's roots, being sung entirely in Helvetian. The duet between male and female vocals has a nice effect (luckily I've matured to a point where I don't spontaneously vomit at the sound of female vocals) and on top of all this, it manages to be catchy. Hit-single catchy, even.

Yes, you could argue that there really is nothing new under the sun here, and that the band are merely using the folk elements to cover up generic melodeath, and these are both legitimate criticisms of the album. But I don't know, it all somehow comes together. I'll admit that I'd have liked it all to have been a bit heavier (my taste leans more towards Deimilich than Dark Tranquility), but I like how it all sounds so much more organic than most melodeath bands, who's music more often than not sounds like it was made by robots (and not in that cool Meshuggah way, either). Despite it's flaws, and the fact that you could argue that it's all a contrived attempt to appeal to both romanticist pagan types and those who might pick this up along with a copy of A Sense Of Purpose, here we have a massively enjoyable slice of metal. Ones to watch.

Killing Songs :
The Somber Lay, Slania's Song, Tarvos
James quoted 84 / 100
Other albums by Eluveitie that we have reviewed:
Eluveitie - Helvetios reviewed by Leah and quoted 82 / 100
Eluveitie - Spirit reviewed by Elias and quoted 95 / 100
Eluveitie - Everything Remains As It Never Was reviewed by Khelek and quoted 85 / 100
Eluveitie - Evocation I - The Arcane Dominion reviewed by Khelek and quoted 83 / 100
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