Cruachan - Nine Years Of Blood review


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Band: Cruachan
Album: Nine Years Of Blood
Release date: April 2018

01. I Am Tuan
02. Hugh O'Neill - Earl Of Tyrone
03. Blood And Victory
04. Queen Of War
05. The Battle Of The Yellow Ford
06. Cath Na Brioscai
07. The Calf, The Lion, The Dragon And The Sword
08. An Ale Before Battle
09. Nine Years Of Blood
10. The Siege Of Kinsale
11. Flight Of The Earls
12. Back Home In Derry

Ever read Irish history? A barrel of laughs it ain't. This particular chapter deals with the Nine Years' War, the 1593-1603 rebellion against English rule led by a coalition of Irish nobles, which at one point dealt the English their greatest military defeat in Ireland, but ultimately led to the expansion of English power and the exodus of many Irish nobles (the famous Flight of the Earls). The music of Cruachan, one of the earliest progenitors of folk metal, is correspondingly grim. String-led reels and jigs may be found in tracks like "Cath Na Brioscaí" and "The Harp, The Lion, The Dragon, And The Sword," in accordance with what most audiences would expect on seeing the "folk metal" label, but only after braving the icy, bloody march through the album's first several tracks, a blackened and inhospitable series of dark battlefield narratives.

The early part of Nine Years Of Blood presents a determinedly harsh-sounding Cruachan. Here, the band isn't prone to using traditional instruments or elements as a melodic crutch; the emphasis remains decidedly on the bleak, grating black/heavy metal, with fiddles, banjos, mandolins, whistles, and other instruments forming part of the support structure. Neither does Cruachan shy away from a powerful, blood-boiling melody, however, as can be heard in the chanting of "Hugh O'Neill" and in album highlight "Queen Of War," a song seemingly too bleak and ragged to be as catchy as it is. Keith Fay makes frequent use of common black metal shrieking to weave tales of war, bloodshed, and hatred, but balances out his raw screams with clean choruses that convey a similar aesthetic.

Cruachan's songwriting talents reach their apex in "The Battle Of The Yellow Ford," a track that melds the harshness of the preceding songs with the slowly intensifying folk presence. From this point on, Nine Years Of Blood becomes less dark and intense, beginning immediately with the considerably more upbeat "Cath Na Brioscaí"; the succeeding tracks edge away from black metal and into more conventional, folk-based heavy jaunts, culminating in the familiarly hummable "Back Home In Derry." The final segment of "The Harp, The Lion, The Dragon, And The Sword" treats us to an extreme metal successor to Horslips's "Sword Of Light," and we have in the title track a brief but weighty and appropriate instrumental folk piece. "The Siege Of Kinsale" is still quite brutal, only steeped in the more open and inviting textures of the band's melodic concessions.

Nine Years Of Blood has an engaging story to tell and is a well-composed album, and moreover one falling under the unfortunately under-utilized banner of dark Celtic folk metal. It is apparent that, their status as folk metal forefathers aside, Cruachan have more facility with black metal, and for that reason the first several tracks, which lean on that style heavily, are the album's strongest. The band has a loose, slightly haphazard and unfinished sound that emphasizes the chaotic, violent elements in the lyrics; that means the performances may not come together well enough to attract some listeners, and Fay's clean vocals stray towards the category of "acquired taste," but Nine Years Of Blood has a dramatic entrance, a catchy finale, and an adventurous middle, and tracks like "Hugh O'Neill - Earl Of Tyrone," "Queen Of War," "The Battle Of The Yellow Ford," and "The Siege Of Kinsale" make this album a release no folk or black metal fans should miss.

Rating breakdown
Performance: 8
Songwriting: 9
Originality: 7
Production: 7


Written on 22.04.2018 by I'm the reviewer, and that means my opinion is correct.


Comments: 4   Visited by: 122 users
23.04.2018 - 14:46
Bad English
Sames goes primordial, Irish history and culture soon we can lable it as.. well let it be. Nice album it will be, waiting for it really I am, single was so promising, interesting history, I mean songs based on history, story, good lyrics, such lyrics always makes you check out album.
Life is to short for LOVE, there is many great things to do online !!!

Stormtroopers of Death - ''Speak English or Die''

I better die, because I never will learn speek english, so I choose dieing
28.04.2018 - 00:49
First listen and sound very good.
01.05.2018 - 14:15
The first two sentences here are the best intro to a review I've ever seen.

Great review, made me really eager to listen to the album and I hated having to wait for it. IMHO Cruachan's music is getting more mature with each release and the more black metal they, the more I enjoy their stuff.
World won't end today - it's already tomorrow in Australia.
08.05.2018 - 07:48
^Agreed. Though my favorite part was the use of the word "inhospitable."

I look very, very forward to hearing this.
"A life all mine
Is what I choose
At the end of my days"
--The Gathering "A Life All Mine" from Souvenirs

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