Mael Mórdha - _Cluain Tarbh_
(Karmageddon Media, 2005)
by: Pedro Azevedo (7.5 out of 10)
With a new album, titled _Gealltacht Mael Mórdha_, currently in its finishing stages and about to come out on Grau Records, Irish doomsters Mael Mórdha may very well be about to gain considerably wider recognition for their work. But in due course that will be seen; for the time being, it seems relevant to look at _Cluain Tarbh_, released last year by Karmageddon Media, in anticipation of their new effort.

Mael Mórdha brand their music Gaelic doom metal, both for their use of traditional instruments and also what the band themselves refer to as "traditional Irish laments". There is also a considerable warlike feel to much of their work. The result is reasonably distinctive; if there was indeed some risk that they might come across as some other Irish band's poor cousin somehow, they manage to avoid it. They add a layer of Irish elements to their traditional doom metal that the more doom/death oriented Mourning Beloveth do not; and their choice of doom rather than black metal as a foundation for their sound also places them in a different category from Primordial.

The music is clean sung throughout, their vocalist unafraid to take chances by mixing the mournful tinge of traditional doom metal with something of a more powerful 'epic' style and a few rougher segments when the music picks up pace. One other element that is especially prominent in their sound, accompanying the various moods and changes of pace, is the very competently played piano. Other less common instruments occasionally make their way into the music as well, but they are well integrated and never overbearing (e.g. the title track and the start of "The Man All Hate to Love").

With solid production values, there is little to be faulted in _Cluain Tarbh_. Sure, there is some sporadic inconsistency in the vocal delivery, and a few sections break the doom atmosphere somewhat, but those are far from being show stoppers. There is also the issue that some of the faster, more aggressive sections, while decently executed, bring little to the table apart from reminding the listener that Primordial do that better (albeit differently). Nevertheless, when successfully interwoven with their doom metal, some of those segments can also show that the concept is not altogether without its usefulness.

At its best, when the singing really hits its stride and the guitar and piano work show just how damn good these guys can be, _Cluain Tarbh_ leaves no doubt that great things can be expected from this band. Hopefully Mael Mórdha will continue to improve on their next effort, in order to be able to claim a place among Ireland's finest metal exports. _Cluain Tarbh_ is certainly a good start, and the most enjoyable variation on traditional doom metal I've heard in a long while.


(article published 28/7/2006)

4/5/2007 P Azevedo 8 Mael Mórdha - Gealtacht Mael Mórdha
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