Cruachan - _The Middle Kingdom_
by: Paul Schwarz (
_The Middle Kingdom_ could comfortably be dismissed as merely another misconceived attempt to combine Celtic folk music (in this case Irish) with metal (in this case black-ish) if it weren't for Cruachan's seeming belief (expressed in Hammerheart's press release) that they have created something significant and original in this sophomore effort. What _TMK_ essentially does is combine vaguely-black metal riffing with folk music -- expressed centrally by bagpipes, among other traditional instruments, along with folk-styled female singing -- in a rather clumsy fashion, which generally constitutes the mere harmonising of folk instruments and distorted guitars. Had Cruachan instead intertwined the two elements, they certainly could have emerged with quite an effective and maybe even original album. As it is, _TMK_ is mostly tediously unoffensive; though points such as the ska-like timing of "Unstabled Steeds of Macha" do try my patience somewhat, I find myself getting bored rather than frustrated when listening to _TMK_.
(article published 8/12/2000)
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