04 August 2014
Eluveitie have been quietly but confidently building a fanbase in their corner of folk metal for twelve years now. As an eight-strong group featuring archaic instruments and a penchant for mid-European Dark Age origin stories, their tale was practically primed for obscurity. However, their winning of a prize at the 2014 Swiss Music Awards for their live show proves that their brand of eclectic, heavy Celt-metal isn’t just another hilarious gimmicky oddity, devoid of meaning or content.
It’s quite the opposite, actually. Eluveitie have such a rich, dense interest in the mythological themes and patches of tribes that swept across early medieval Europe, and their music is the tangible outcome of this fascination. The barbarism of the grating, thundering death metal plays counterpoint to the beautiful strains of the tin whistle and the earthy, mythic yaw of the hurdy-gurdy.
Its predecessor, Helvetios, garnered a ton of praise for its startling depth, and Origins will likely do the same. So intent on the narrative of each of their albums, Eluveitie bookmark either end of the album in softly spoken tributes to the stories contained within. Although their albums are filled with pride at the strength and determination of their forebears, Eluveitie pitch each release in an attempt to marry the music with their historical narrative; in this way, you’re rarely in danger of thinking that this Swiss band are writing material to fit their country’s isolationist politics. The music and themes are too deftly handled to be thought of as cheeky origin stories with a crass Aryan, anti-immigration feel, as their country moves towards complete insularity.
Yet for all of Origins’ depth and focus on storytelling, it occasionally feels a little lost. So dramatic are the leaps between out-and-out death metal and the heavily poppy likes of radio-ready ‘The Call of the Mountains’ that it seems like Eluveitie are trying to do a little too much with this album. At a chunky sixteen songs in length, it’s also got its fair share of filler, like the innocuous ‘The Silver Sister’. Then again, they make up for it almost instantly with the barraging roistering of ‘King’.
Eluveitie are a band whose infectious love for their medium and history are a rare commodity in a world of clickbait musicians. It might not be perfect, but Origins is so dense and huge in its scope, that it’s difficult to see how it’ll do anything other than accelerate this band’s rightful rise.
Sounds Like: The heartbeat of Dark Age Germania
Standout Tracks: The Nameless, King