Everything Remains As It Never Was
19 February 2010
by Tom Dare
Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie attracted a certain amount of attention with their song ‘Inis Mona’, the lead single for their last album, Slania. One of the finer examples of the folk metal style, it firmly established Eluveitie as more authentically ‘folk’ than most of their peers, a position they consolidated last year with the release of their pure folk album, Evocation I- The Arcane Dominion.
However, despite Slania being a solid record, it was let down by being the type of album that had one or two colossal songs but patches of filler. With Everything Remains As It Never Was, the band has resumed the metal, but their sojourn in acoustic folk appears to have done them no end of good.
Eluveitie essentially play melodic death metal, only instead of generating melody by playing NWOBHM leads on heavily distorted guitars, these Helvetians play Celtic melodies on instruments many heavy metal fans have never heard of. The credits for the album include violin, uilleann pipes, tin whistle, mandola, bagpipes and hurdy-gurdy, amongst others. Certainly this gives Eluveitie more credibility to their folk claim than others (tell me, Turisas, when did the Vikings make use of the accordion?) but that does not necessarily mean they are anything other than a novelty.
There are one or two moments on Everything Remains… where it all does feel a tad gimmicky – certainly the intro track ‘Otherworld’ is not particularly well judged, the voice-over giving it the feel of a metal version of the Braveheart soundtrack. Thankfully, these moments are rare – other than the intro, only a brief snatch of ‘Quoth The Raven’ suffers this problem. To make amends, the rest of the album is frankly gorgeous.
Everything Remains… does not, it must be said, have an instant hit like ‘Inis Mona’ but that is because its very nature – what makes it such a strong record – makes this unlikely. This is an album of progression. That is not to say that Eluveitie have suddenly become a folk metal Dream Theater, simply that they have written songs which grow and develop and created an album that shies away from enormous hooks or catchy choruses. The guitar work- far more impressive than on previous outings and with a much bigger barrage of riffs- forms a strong base above which the folk melodies soar and dance, evoking visions of ancient hills covered in dark forests, and of fires around which fur-clad tribes celebrate the beauty of their ancestral land. The juxtaposition between Chrigel Glanzmann’s roar and the melodic female vocals perfectly encapsulates the simultaneous barbarity and beauty of a bygone age.
Watch the video to ‘Thousandfold’ by Eluveitie
Just because the show-stopping anthem is not here does not mean Everything Remains… is not packed full of top-drawer songs. From the pounding title track through the more lyrical ‘The Essence Of Ashes’ and the acoustic ‘Isara’ to the defiant ‘(do)Minion’ and the more catchy ‘Lugdonon’ before the album is brought to a mournful, longing close by the heart-rending ‘The Liminal Passage’, there is not a weak moment of music to be found. Granted, some of the guitar riffs are not the most original and would not be out of place on a long-lost At The Gates recording, but there is never a dull moment. There is always something commanding your attention.
Eluveitie’s achievement is to draw one passage into another, creating an album that may not have many instantly memorable moments but will keep you returning to experience the whole opus. They have delivered that rarest of records, particularly amongst folk metal- it keeps you interested right through to the end, and makes you wish it would keep going long after it finishes. Everything Remains As It Never Was is a wonderful, beautiful album that it would be a mistake to overlook.
Sounds like: Crimfall, Suidakra, At The Gates with bagpipe folk melodies
Top tracks: Thousandfold, Sempiternal Embers, The Liminal Passage
Eluveitie – Everything Remains As It Never Was tracklisting
Everything Remains as It Never Was
The Essence of Ashes
Kingdom Come Undone
Quoth the Raven
The Liminal Passage