Eluveitie - _Spirit_
(Fear Dark Records, 2006)
by: Alexandra Erickson (7 out of 10)
There seems to be a wave of folk metal rising across the globe with the epicenter nestled from central Europe to Russia. I think most metal listeners can agree on folk metal, regardless of their home sub-genre, from the grimmest black metal to the campiest power metal Sweden can throw at us. There is something innately fetching about metal rooted in traditional music. Maybe it is the bridge between our past and where we are today. Maybe it is the strong sense of history and cultural pride metal seems to harbor, with folk metal as simply a nod to our various histories. Whatever the reason for it, it's on the rise and the Swiss ensemble Eluveitie have honed the sound beautifully.

_Spirit_ is the eight-member band's first studio album. They have a remarkable sound, even for folk-metal. They have the metal benchmark instruments, as well as the folk metal standards: fiddles, bagpipes, flutes and violins. However, Eluveitie exhibit a vanguard in even folk metal, bringing mandolins and a bodhràn (traditional Celtic frame drum) and even a hurdy gurdy. Yes, a hurdy gurdy. How bizarre it can seem to someone who hasn't heard this band, but it works. The contrast of mild folk instruments and soft female vocals, melodic and enchanting, to the deep death metal inspired vocals from both strong male vocalists Chrigel Glanzmann and Sevan Kirder (both of whom find the ability to play various pipes and whistles while performing live).

The individual tracks on _Spirit_ are as varied as the band's make-up. "Aidu" is a showcase of both female vocalists' range, purely a folk song with sirenic melodies paired with the flutes, low drums and dancing acoustic guitar work. Contrasted with the very next track "The Song of Life" that tears almost immediately into raging, heavily distorted electric guitar work and strident drums with screaming, substantial male vocals. Within itself though, "The Song of Life" contrasts with soft, almost delicate flute work. Nearly every track opens with melodic and stirring interludes from the myriad of instruments, and almost all delve deep into the cacophonous influence of death metal. Some of the tracks can wander into progressive metal territory at points, almost sounding like Greek pop music with flutes. That pseudo-prog, we could do without. But even with that said, _Spirit_ and the band's first EP _Vên_ (2003, Fear Dark Records) and the newest addition to their resume, _Slania_ (2008, Nuclear Blast) carry the band's stark dedication to finding the balance and beauty, complete artistry if nothing else in their ability to pair melodic death metal with very traditional and nearly extinct instruments.

Maybe it's the chemistry that opposites have always been complimentary in nature. Night and day, inherently evil and pure. Eluveitie makes folk metal work, and they do it well for the most part. For any fan of Korpiklaani, in the unlikely even that you haven't heard Eluveitie yet, get on board. They call themselves the new wave of folk metal, and if they are a sign of things to come, folk metal fans worldwide can celebrate. They are about to embark on a US tour and that one venture speaks volumes in testament to the rise that this sub-genre is on. Enjoy, Americans, for it is a beautiful thing that we can't often revel in.

Contact: http://www.eluveitie.ch/

(article published 16/2/2008)

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