Cruachan - Blood On The Black Robe review
|Album:||Blood On The Black Robe|
|Release date:||April 2011|
01. To War
02. I Am Warrior
03. The Column
04. Thy Kingdom Gone
05. An Bean Sidhe
06. Blood On The Black Robe
07. Primeval Odium
08. The Voyage Of Bran
09. Brian Boru's March
10. Pagan Hate
11. The Nine Year War
Whenever I listen to Cruachan's music I get a little confused. Should I be banging my head or breaking out into a jig? Or perhaps both? In any case this album has plenty of opportunities for either.
Cruachan are one of the more familiar acts to grace us from the Emerald Isle, alongside fellow Folk metallers Primordial. While the band certainly has their own character this time around they've decided to inject some black metal influences into their music, having departed from such a style following their debut Tuatha Na Gael back in 1995.
There is no time to mourn the loss of Karen Gilligan who gave Cruachan their voice for nearly a decade. Keith Fay leads the charge this time, letting loose a torrent of anti-christian Pagan sentiment given a gritty vehemence in his harsh vocals and methodical guitar work. The folk elements within the music, while being an irreplaceable part of the band's sound, are backed by a simple yet effective tempo which drives the album on. The flow from the black metal laced riffery to these folk metal elements is well conceived, fueling some of their most efficient tracks in years. An album highlight is the melancholy and stunningly beautiful "An Bean Sidhe", surely one their finest pieces to date. The music seems to be given an aggressive edge which was absent from previous albums, such as in the thunderous "Thy Kingdom Gone" or the heated "Pagan Hate", with frenetic drumwork giving them a vicious bite. Yet all tracks are well fitted with the Celtic folk elements that are part of Cruachan's charm. They are laced effectively throughout, not ruling the roost, so to speak, but giving the aggression some well needed tempering.
What is most effective about the album is the switching between the folk elements taking precedence in one track and then falling into place behind a wall of Pagan metal in the next. Some tracks mix these two expertly, such as "The Voyage Of Bran", another standout. The Pagan riffery, whilst being clearly well practiced is nothing particularly exceptional, however, but the manner in which it is used makes for a very enjoyable listen.
Fans of folk metal should find much to like about this album, particularly those who like a subtle black metal influence about it. But for metalheads in general Cruachan are truly one of a kind, and this album is one of their finest.
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