The 2010 and 4th full length album Everything Remains (As it Never Was) from the Swiss Pagan Metal band Eluveitie clearly is an improvement over the already pretty good former production Slania. And yep, I know, there was Evocation I in between. But hey, time will tell if I will review that one as well.
This new record is much more melodious, but still fosters enough aggressive Melodic Death Metal underlaying its core to convince. And they deliver their tune in an improved, but still decidedly own household style and brand. On this record we can actually hear the hurdy-gurdy (hello and welcome, Anna), fiddles and the flutes. And – to my relief – not too many annoying bagpipes screech away in the background this time.
Some of their tracks may seem a bit poppy, but not overly so. And then again Eluveitie included elements in there that seem to come straight from bands like Insomnium, sometimes sounding like a mix between the former and Nightwish – of sorts.
The few tracks more reminiscent of former (and future) creations of Eluveitie are refreshingly pure, crunchy Melodic Death Metal infused Pagan Metal. Delivered aggressively, with teeth-gnashing growls to warm our cold metal hearts. And I love the switch from harsh vocals to a clear vocal chorus in some of the tracks. Really nicely executed.
Chrigel Glanzmann deserves a lot of credit to let this change happen, creating a much more fluid type of tune. He still gets off nicely with a load of harsh vocals that are quite aptly delivered. And of course the improved involvement of Anna Murphy in this whole production has certainly helped.
I particularly like the instrumentals that interlude with the more action laden songs in this record. Those add a nice counterweight to the heavier moments on Everything Remains (as it Never Was ). Isara particularly stands out from between them. A very nice tune, I love it.
Whilst better, the guitar work is still not up to par. You will be looking forever for that great fucking solo that will take your breath away, albeit there are a few attempts. On the other hand, this might not necessarily be the strength of this band neither. Well, hell’s bells! So, if this is your fancy, this is not your list of tracks to enjoy over your morning coffee.
Apart from a much more melodic approach to Eluveitie‘s metal, the record offers nothing new and surprising in style, but a successful add-on to former productions. Kind of rocketing down the stony road of Pagan Metal, but clearly developing their own trademark. And their art to mix modern and archaic instruments together in Death Metal style, well, THIS is their strength. And believe me, their music is not easy fare, you will have to listen to it for a few times to get to the nuances alright.
As to the tracks, there is indeed no really bad one on this album. The best metal contributions on the disc are: Everything Remains (as it Never Was) – the title track, Thousandfold that got itself a video. The Essence of Ashes with an insane chorus, Kingdom Come Undone, (Do) Minion and Sempiternal Embers. Very much metal, always interchanged with melodic parts, loads of screams and throwing a variety of instruments into the fray. Glorious to listen to.
Quoth the Raven is not bad neither, made palatable by the inclusion of some clear vocals from Anna with some haunting lyrics that just tightly fit. This track got quite some acclaim across the fan base. Yet, I daresay that it took me some time to really appreciate it.
In the end, Everything Remains (As it Never Was) is a great album. The record sports a much better flow and a pretty intricate track list, interchanging quieter moments – the instrumentals for instance – with insane Pagan Metal activity. All tracks delivered with a metal punch that will make their brothers in crime in the Pagan Metal world pale with envy.
This creates a slab of metal that should easily have its spot on any metal playlist, to return to often. Will the record prove to be the best in view of Eluveitie‘s future contributions to the Pagan and Folk Metal universe? Maybe so. I have mixed feelings on the follow-on productions in 2012 and 2014, mind you. But the record already establishes itself really well in the compounds of the undeniable Eluveitie sound.