Slania, Slania! Voice of a distant past. Ode to Helvetian and Celtic times, when the tribes ruled. As far as they could until the Romans arrived and made a mess out of it.
Yet perhaps, this may be a tad too much glorification of a time historians hardly know about. When tribes (supposedly) ruled on the land today called Switzerland. A story about people long gone and dead. And we don’t even know, if they ever existed in the way imagined. It only appears that the Romans did not have too many difficulties to conquer these people.
As the story goes, Chrigel Glanzmann, the lead singer of the Swiss band Eluveitie saw the name of this girl called Slania on an ancient slab of stone. And decided to name a song and their 2nd studio album after her. Nice story, by the way: Se non è vero, è ben trovato – as we say in Italian.
Yet, the unmistakable sound of Pagan and Folk Metal chiseled onto a granite slab of Melodic Death Metal that they so expertly mix together does tell this story, real or not. And their trademark sound really starts to take shape on Slania. Also, it looks like Eluveitie has been in the amplified history game way before others arrived on the scene.
Glanzmann is however by far much too overwhelmingly present with his ever-present death growls. There is – to my taste – too much super aggressive Pagan-infused Death Metal in this mix. Minus the melodic parts, like.
To a point, where the archaic instruments and the other contributions of his band mates almost get lost in the fray. Good talent pounded to dust on the altar of Pagan Metal purist heaven, go figure.
In addition, the guitar work is quite repetitive, and I am missing the stellar riffs that other groups so aptly deploy.
And this is a pity!
They could have made more out of this record. More of the melodic piece, not killing so many potentially good tracks with ceaselessly growling about the stage. This is growl overload all over again.
In comparison, on their follow-on Everything Remains (as it never was) the band corrected this and gave Anna Murphy a bit more room. Which again immediately showed on the quality chart.
Having said that, Slania still shines on its own. Very much in the vein of the band’s own and unique household sound. The album starts off with an intro Samon that – for once – talks to me, and is not a waste of time. Some spoken words and a nice theme melody, that’s it. I like it.
Primordial Breath starts out – well – primordial, aggressively chewed and expelled again. But with a very nice flourish at the end. You need to be in the mood for that one, but it is really good. Then follows Inis Mona sounding very much like something that I already heard in other folk songs. I remain unsure about that one and I am surely not certain where the stellar reviews came from for this track.
I like Gray Sublime Archon. Pretty cool track with a stellar chorus line to boot that will follow you around for a while. Then again interspersed with some stellar soloing and riffing, Eluveitie style.
The following few songs lost themselves in Folk Metal Purist Heaven, or have been instrumentally misguided – not worth to mention them. But then comes Slanias Song, which with Anna Murphy‘s expert contribution morphed into a very nice concoction. The text itself is perhaps a bit too heavy and heroic, but then this depends on taste, doesn’t it? The following instrumental track will bring you back down to earth nicely from the rosy heights of mighty Alpine madness.
As to the rest of the album, you be the judge. I was not overly impressed – whereas there are some catchy elements in there. Too much harsh Chrigel in there for my taste and some weird stuff as well.
Elembivos finally producing – oh surprise – a nice guitar and violin solo – dual whammy. Who would have thought this possible? Looks like the guitar man woke up towards the end. The album ends nicely with the instrumental version of the intro.
Overall, I like the album.
Yet the outcome is a tad too harsh, and too Glanzmann. Without Anna Murphy‘s contributions, Slania would be a tough cookie indeed, and sink on the harsh cliffs of a meal-laden pagan shore. With her it is bearable. On top, the stellar musicianship and overall execution of the album save the day. The record is however for sure an early stepping stone to future glory.