Monday, 25 March 2013

Celtachor - Nine Waves From The Shore

Self Released 2012
1.The Landing: Amergin's Conquest 2.The Battle Of Tailtin
3.The Kingdom Of Bodh Dearg 4.Sorrow Of The Dagda 5.Tar Eis An Sidhe
6.Conn Of The Hundred Battles 7.Annan: Ermme's Daughter
As opening track 'The Landing: Amergin's Conquest' slowly gathers momentum the pacey black metal leads the track, with not much of the bands folk element to be heard so far. When Stephen's harsh screamed black metal vocals are added, this only takes the bands sound further into the melodic, yet harsh black metal sound. It's only with the introduction of the whistles further into the track that you can begin to appreciate the other side to the band, namely their folk and Celtic musical inspirations which really sit comfortably amongst the heavy black metal music. There's a massive hint of groove in the guitar work as well which really gets the head nodding, especially when the haunting sound of the whistles are added. It builds quite a unique atmosphere. It's good that the band has decided to use the whistles sparingly, not over-burdening the song. 'The Battle Of Tailtin' begins in similar fashion to the opener, heavy yet melodic guitar riffs really give the start to this song an epic feel. It's almost like you could ride into battle listening to this, sword aloft charging at the enemy. The song does actually break out into a whistle and drum interlude with the sounds of battle in the background, swords clashing and warriors screaming. Very short, but very apt given that the song the returns to the epic sound heard earlier. Tempo wise, its slow to mid-paced which suits the overall sound and groove to the guitars. Blast beats just wouldn't do the music justice at all. 'The Kingship Of The Bodh Dearg' is a little different, beginning with a whistle and drum introduction. This is where the Celtic/Folk element to the band is undoubtedly in full flow and this theme is continued throughout much of the track, especially the whistles which tend to take a leading role here, being used as leads almost (where most metal bands would use lead guitars/solos). For the most, a slower pace is utilised well and again, the groove to the heavier rhythm guitars remains black metal, but set to a slower, almost doom like pace. This pace is also well suited when the whistles are introduced, allowing them to build the haunting and enchanting atmospheres.
Acoustic guitars introduce 'Sorrow Of The Dagda', building the tension of the song nicely which allows the heavier black metal styles to come bellowing in brilliantly. Musically, this track is as Black Metal as the band has sounded so far, there seems to be a real harshness to the riffing and the vocals are definitely delivered with more spite, anger and hatred in them. This also works well when the whistles are added sporadically, very different musical entities being brought together very well. As before, the pace is again slowed right down and as before, this slower paces works well, adding a really epic feel to proceedings. There is almost a sense of despair, a sense of loss and grief to this track, definitely one of the more sombre moments to this album. 'Tar Eis An Sidhe' acts as a melodic interlude, acoustic guitars taking the lead and being accompanied by the whistles every now and again. As a stand alone piece of music it works very well, providing something slightly different from the rest of the album. However, when brought into context, as a song on this album, due to the stripped back nature and simplicity, it lasts for a very long time (nearly six minutes), maybe a bit too long.
'Conn Of The Hundred Battles' is a very groove laden affair, some of the guitar riffs having an almost 70's rock sound to them which might not sit too comfortably with black/folk metal fans but to be fair,the groovier sections do sit well in amongst the more black and folk metal orientated guitar work. And the screamed vocals obviously ensure that the song does remain extreme. Closing the album is 'Anaan: Ermnes Daughter' which is a really epic sounding track and a great way to end proceedings. The pace upped slightly to give this final track a real sense of urgency. And even when the band drops off the pace, the epic nature of the music keeps your attention. Celtachor have certainly succeed in mixing paces and styles brilliantly, moving from the faster mid-paced sections to the slower, more epic doom sounding styles well and this makes for an extremely entertaining album. There are as many folk elements to this album as was expected, whistles are used throughout but in just enough measure so as not to over-power the songs and take the attention away from the bands brand of black metal. Folk metal may not be to everyones taste, but Celtachor keep their music well into the melodic black metal genre and thus will not alienate fans of black metal with the 'Folk' tag. Nine Waves From The Shore proves itself to be an extremely well written, well played black/folk metal album which is packed full of atmosphere and emotion. An enjoyable listen which should be considered if you're 'after something familiar, but also a bit different', it comes well recommended.
8 out of 10

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