Blood On The Black Robe

Written by: PP on 19/04/2011 19:20:59

Celtic folk metallers Cruachan, who are often credited as one of the founders of folk metal back in early 90s, have spent the last four and a half years away from writing new material in order to attempt and match the sales success of their previous album "The Morrigan's Call" from 2006. It was an interesting folk metal album combining the femme-metal approach by having an angelic, high-pitched female vocalist leading the way, while the rest of the band was decidedly folk in every possible meaning of the word. Instruments like the fiddle, violin, bodhran, mandolin, tin whistle, banjo, and bouzouki were a regular appearance, unsurprisingly leading to a sound that was slightly brighter and more positive-sounding than many of their more extreme folk metal peers.

For their new album "Blood On The Black Robe", some changes have taken place behind the scenes. First of all, their longtime female vocalist Karen Gilligan left the band in 2008, and Cruachan decided to soldier on without recruiting another female warrior. Instead, the vocal duties were assumed by former backup vocalist Keith Fay, whose black metal-esque growl automatically lends itself for a much more extreme and brutal approach to the genre, much like their material from the 90s. The added black metal vibes on their demo caught Candlelight Records' interest, and so here we are, with Cruachan releasing a new album that's considerably heavier and more experimental than their past efforts. There has been a clear-cut attempt at twisting the band's previously bright folk metal into a darker direction, which is evident especially on the thrashy "Thy Kingdom Gone" as well as the lengthy progressive opus "The Column". While these songs still integrate plenty of traditional celtic instrumentation, the sound is decidedly more....evil, for the lack of a better expression. So much for the folk metal anthems of the past, eh?

Though the change should come as no surprise to people who have followed Cruachan's career from the beginning. The band likes to push the envelope of folk metal in all directions possible. Sometimes it means softer and happier songs, and elsewhere it results into brooding, dark records like "Blood On The Black Robe". It's merely a preference question which one you'll enjoy more, because there's no denying that Cruachan are entirely decent in their genre, even if their days of writing 'classics' are almost certainly over.

Download: I Am Warrior, The Voyage Of Bran
For the fans of: Waylander, Fejd, Asmegin
Listen: Soundcloud

Release date 18.04.2011
Candlelight Records

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