Eluveitie - Helvetios

Eluveitie - Helvetios

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(CD, Nuclear Blast, 2012)

I think we all agree on the fact that ELUVEITIE is a hard working band and has been building a kind strong reputation through constant touring and, of course, album releasing. So, two years after the pretty good “Everything Remains As It Never Was”, ELUVEITIE are back with what I consider a heavy album. You see, I had some difficulties dealing with the soft side they introduced us with their previous two albums, with more than the average catchy tunes and the additional mellow female vocals. I understand that they are trying to change things a little, since Folk Metal can be sometimes self-restrictive and hence, predictable to the level of boredom.

This time ELUVEITIE with “Helvetios” produce a concept album telling stories about how the Helvetians were battling the Romanian empire and this musically reflects to the heavier sound I was talking about in the intro. I am very happy to welcome the additional guitar work and the riff-based song structure, bringing the Metal profile of the band one step forward. The enhanced heaviness has left the band’s folk side intact by giving it the space to shine and do its thing, adding the multiple melody layers we all learned to love in ELUVEITIE. Ok, I’d like some guitar solo action in the mix since the absence might reveal a minor deviation towards mainstream paths and eventually deleting the traditional term in ELUVEITIE’s musical profile description. And sure, this almost Metalcore character pops up here in there as Chrigel’s vocals try to follow the faster tempos or as the groovy breaks and the down-tuned riffs mesh with the folk atmosphere. What I really like here is the distinct SKYCLAD references that come to live via the violin and the multiple vocal harmonies in songs like “Santonian Shores” or “Luxtos” (pay close attention to the main groove). Of course, there is the hurdy gurdy sound, introducing that extra folk feeling, while the flutes and whistles get that primal atmosphere on top of everything.

As a story telling album, “Helvetios” works absolutely great without using pointless interludes that most of the times spoil the listening experience. The album flows smoothly and with the addition of the amazing almost mourning “Scorched Earth”, the flute driven “Hope” and the intro and outro, the listener gets the movie soundtrack treat without feeling bored eager  to press the skip button and return to the music. As I expected, Anna Murphy has more air-time in this album since her vocals fit well in the music and add more points towards music diversity without sounded cheesy or too mellow for the metalhead’s taste. So, “A Rose For Epona” and the semi-ballad “Alesia” (the guitar riffs put the pedal to the Metal at some point) are powerful songs with most expressional vocals (especially the latter).

I happen to consider this sound dangerously restrictive when a band does not dare to make changes and try different things. It is true that ELUVEITIE might be using the safe and destined-to-succeed recipes, but I also think with this concept they did challenge themselves and actually have produced a very good album. Pay close attention to the fast and heavy “The Siege” that will get you in the frontline rushing towards the enemies’ lines in hunt for blood. I am just wondering who is doing the extreme vocals in this one that work amazingly well.

Yeah, “Helvetios” is better than the previous ELUVEITIE album and for me there are more tracks to revisit after a couple of months. I think this album has the songs/hits that were missing in the last couple ELUVEITIE releases. It’s really interesting how they will evolve the use of Anna’s vocals.

8/10



Links:

www.Eluveitie.Ch
www.MySpace.Com/Eluveitie
www.FaceBook.Com/Eluveitie
Twitter.Com/#!/Eluveitie


Tracklist:

01. Prologue
02. Helvetios
03. Luxtos
04. Home
05. Santonian Shores
06. Scorched Earth
07. Meet The Enemy
08. Neverland
09. A Rose For Epona
10. Havoc
11. The Uprising
12. Hope
13. The Siege
14. Alesia
15. Tullianum
16. Uxellodunon
17. Epilogue


Lineup:

Chrigel Glanzmann - Vocals, Acoustic guitars, Mandolin, Uilleann pipes, Bodhrán, Tin and low whistles, Gaita
Meri Tadic - Fiddle, Vocals
Merlin Sutter - Drums
Ivo Henzi - Guitars
Sime Koch - Guitars, Vocals
Anna Murphy - Hurdy Gurdy, Vocals
Päde Kistler - Bagpipes, Whistles
Kay Brem - Bass