Eluveitie - Helvetios
Nuclear Blast
Folk Metal
17 songs (59:08)
Release year: 2012
Eluveitie, Nuclear Blast
Reviewed by Leah

For those of us who are big into the Folk Metal scene, there is one band that sticks out above the rest, the one that claims themselves to be a part of the “New Wave of Folk Metal”; Switzerland’s Eluveitie. When you hear Eluveitie for the first time, there is no mistake that you have stumbled across something quite new in the world of Folk Metal. They have eight members in the band, which play between them the standard drums and guitars, yes, but also whistles, bagpipes, other assorted woodwinds, a violin and of course the hurdy-gurdy.

Yes, they have a hurdy-gurdy. The instrument most popularly played during the Renaissance.

They released their first full-length album, Spirit, through Fear Dark Records in 2005, and have come a long way since then. After extensive touring, recording and releasing three more successful albums (Slania in 2008, Evocation I in 2009 and Everything Remains in 2010), they hit the studio again to record this year’s Helvetios.

Eluveitie’s latest release is a concept album about their native ancestors. The word “Helvetios” refers to a Celtic tribe that lived in Switzerland during the 1st century BCE. This tribe was the beginning of the Swiss people, and Eluveitie shows pride in their heritage by paying homage to the ancient songs and melodies of the Helvetii.

“When I reminisce about all those years, I see many things.”

The album begins with a spoken prologue that sets the mood for the album and tells a story; the story of a beautiful land, of bloodshed and loss, of celebration and song. These are the ideas that Eluveitie brings into their music with every album, but especially so in Helvetios.

The first song on the album is the title track, and it gets straight to the point. Eluveitie’s signature blend of woodwinds and pipes introduces the fast paced anthem to the Helvetian people. The opening melody of the bagpipes, played by Patrick Kistler, instantly gets you bobbing your head.

“’Cause we’re born free/Cause we’re born wild . . . We are one/We are Helvetios”

Helvetios is a great first track because it sets the stage for the rest of the album. The somber introductory tale gives way to a pummeling force of song that hits you with what Eluveitie is trying to achieve with this album. From the get-go, the album very clearly says “This is who we are. This is where we came from. We are proud, and we want to share it with you.”

The rest of the album will please new Eluveitie listeners and old-school fans alike. Track three, Luxtos, has some of the Gaulish lyrics we have come be fond of through older tracks like Slania’s Song and Primordial Breath on 2008’s release, Slania. The head-bobbing, dance-around-like-you’re-at-a-Renaissance-Fair melodies of Santonian Shores are instantly memorable and you’ll find yourself whistling the tune before you realize it. Track 10, titled Havoc, is easily Eluveitie’s new mosh song and having seen it performed live, I can tell you that the crowd immediately knows it is too. For fans of hurdy-gurdy player Anna Murphy, the slower paced song A Rose for Epona features her vocals exclusively while Alesia brings Anna and harsh vocalist Chrigel together.

Some fans may say that this album is more of the same, or that it has lost some of its uniqueness and originality; I disagree. Eluveitie has their own style and sound that has yet to be matched or copied in the Folk Metal scene. With Helvetios, they bring the history, beliefs and emotions they’ve expressed through all of their albums into a singular concept that makes listeners truly aware of the ideas that make them who they are.

Killing Songs :
Luxtos, Santonian Shores, Havoc
Leah quoted 82 / 100
Other albums by Eluveitie that we have reviewed:
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
Eluveitie - Slania reviewed by James and quoted 84 / 100
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