Mag Mell - _Revival_
(Goda Mjod, 2009)
by: Quentin Kalis (6 out of 10)
Despite hailing from the decidedly un-Gaelic land of Minnesota, USA, Mag Mell is no less Irish than a pint of Guinness. Determined to prove that he can jig with the best Eire has to offer, a complete folk orchestra from bodhran to bouzouki (note to fellow pedants: the bouzouki is technically a Greek instrument, but has become comfortably established within Irish folk) is provided with a twist: all are played by just one man, sole member Séaghdha Aodhán. Which is probably not the name on his passport.

The only instrument not played by him are some keys on one track, but everything else, including traditional metal instruments and vocals, is. As he draws upon the same mystic well of Gaelic legends and mythology as transatlantic compatriots Cruachan and Waylander, comparisons are inevitable, despite sounding rawer and more primal than Cruachan ever where. Combined with an inadequate production -- which is probably due to a lack of adequate facilities rather than a misplaced desire to sound raw or inept -- the result is an incongruent mix of jaunty folk melodies and frost-bitten riffs. Decent moments can be found scattered throughout and it is his credit that he does not feel the need to provide an up-tempo metal version of a sombre Irish ballad, but unless the shrill tones are downgraded, those located in the Celtic lands will not be facing any serious competition from the New World.


(article published 16/8/2009)

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