Cruachan - _The Morrigan's Call_
(AFM Records, 2006)
by: Yiannis Stefanis (
Looking back at the history of the Irish folk metal outfit Cruachan, and all the misfortunes that this band had to suffer since the release of their debut album _Tuatha Na Gael_, one should justifiably be surprised by the fact that this quintet is still capable of recording music. The latest setback was with regards the release of their latest album _The Morrigan's Call_, which was originally scheduled to be released through the now defunct label Black Lotus, and which finally managed to see the light of day after AFM Records' decisive intervention.This whole situation did not affect the quality of _The Morrigan's Call_ one bit, seeing as it not only shows a steady improvement in terms of compositional skills but also in terms of production, which was by far the main problem behind the general presentation of the band's previous release _Pagan_ (2004).Most of the Irish metal bands that I know were always willing to add folk elements into their music, but no band has done it to the extent Cruachan has, and that is also the reason why some people find it difficult to relate to this band's music. I have to admit that some traditional Irish songs sound too joyful to operate in the same musical environment with Keith Fay's heavy guitars and death metal vocals -- perfect example being the opening track "Shelob", "Ungoliant" and the traditional anthem "Teir Abhaile Riu", whose lyrics are written in Gaelic.On the other hand, when the band decides to incorporate these elements in a darker and more atmospheric way, using more epic sounding melodies, the result is simply mind-blowing. Take for instance songs like "The Brown Bull of Colley" and "Cucullain" -- both of which are clearly influenced by the music of Skyclad and whose lyrical themes are based on Celtic mythology. Instead of taking a leading role in the compositions, the beautifully performed fiddle and violin tunes support the main rhythmic guitar themes, thus creating a powerful vibe and atmosphere to the compositions.Karen Gilligan's vocals have always been a main feature in Cruachan's music, and her performance in the tragic opus "The Great Hunger" proves how important her contribution is in the creation of this release. Finally, allow yourselves to enjoy the medieval-sounding tunes of the title track and the traditional catchy tunes of "The Very Wild Rover" -- both of which are quite rewarding to the ears. I believe that it is safe to say that the style of music that Cruachan chose to play does not leave much room for innovations, but _The Morrigan's Call_ is a clear indication of the band's musical progression throughout the years and of their ability to write well-balanced epic compositions, capable of arousing the interest of not only the devoted supporters of the genre, but of a wider metal audience. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger? It looks like that is indeed the case!
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