Ah thank you, oh Helvetian Ones! You just have to love the drummer on steroids that the Swiss band Eluveitie (apparently the old pagan name of today’s Switzerland) employs. This guy seems to work himself from one nervous breakdown frenzy to another on his drums.
Combined with the savvy mix of modern-day and archaic instruments, AND again together with the usual growls and rumblings, Helvetios becomes an astonishing piece of Pagan Melodic Death Metal or Folk Metal. Good work from the band around Chrigel Glanzmann.
Helvetios is a concept album of sorts, too. And tells a story of pagan wars in Gallic times. And for this theme, the Eluveitie sound is perfectly suited.
The purists may lament (as they always do..) that there is too much mainstream that crept into the record. But then at least some style change is good. Just applying Death Metal riffs, ripping songs into pieces played by good instruments, overlay them with exaggerated growls is just a waste of good musical talent.
However and to the purists’ credit (I mean the ever-whining purists…), A Rose for Epona or Alesia – both expertly interpreted by Anna Murphy and Chrigel Glanzmann mind you – are just sub-par heaps of pop culture waste. Of lesser quality, to the point of rendering them boring (even for my taste and I am flexible..).
And if Eluveitie could get rid of the intros and outros in there, this would help greatly. After all, this needless talk is a waste of good disc space that could be used up by some quality metal. Also, the pipes and flutes are sometimes a bit overwhelming in there. To the point that compression almost renders the other archaic instruments invisible. So, in the midst of all this increased growling and hollering, I sometimes wish I had the mystics of Slania back. But hey, all of that disappeared in the haze of past history. Right?
Melodic Death Metal, ahem no, sorry, Folk Metal fans will be very pleased with tracks like Havoc, The Uprising or The Siege. All of those are all aggressively displayed, chewed and spit out. Not bad at all, with the archaic instruments that just this portion of spice to keep things nice and hot.
Yet, the best track in this album is definitely Neverland. A great mix of Melodeath and Folk influences. Even more surprising is that all of a sudden the howling and rumbling stops and on come traditional folk tracks like Hope.
Very much in the groove of good Folk Metal are Helvetios, Luxtos and Santonian Shores. Definitely worthy for recommendation. This apart from Scorched Earth, which sounds like the psychedelic bullshit other pagan folk bands concoct when they are on one of the (counter-)productive horror trips. Good gracious.
So, here we are. Helvetios is really tough to rate. There is a lot of good, bad and ugly together. Same as its close brother Origins that released in 2014, Eluveitie put together a hefty piece of work. Maybe not as good as the new one, but still remarkable.
Get my drift?
[Editorial note: The review made it successfully onto the first ever Intermittent Best Of of the RockmusicRaider blog. Congrats!]