A fresh, crunchy wind blows into today’s somewhat stale folk metal scene. Coming up from the South, no less!
The Italian band Kanseil just published their debut album Doin Earde (meaning ‘your land’ in Cimbrian dialect) a few days ago. Arguably their tune is still in need of some more polish and improvement. But frankly, the way innovation, energy, drive, and delivery goes, their tune is not bad at all.
I have been following them around for a while already and I do like their refreshing style, mixing different medieval, archaic, and contemporary instruments into their metal stew.
Kanseil bring enough variation to their tune to avoid having it descend into a meaningless jumble of musical ingredients. Then add a goodly portion of the crazy German storytellers Antyra into the fray and you’ll get an idea on where this is headed. AND there is a rough, untamed edge and some needle-sharp points to their music. Not the super-whitewashed bullshit we sometimes get to hear these days.
The music gorges with character and surprises. Always a sign of authenticity is the fact that the tracks have varying lengths, none hovering on purpose at the – some say magic – three-minute mark to satisfy statistics and maximize sales. Those are elements that make up a good production. Well done!
Big names like Eluveitie also come to mind when delving into their tune. Albeit that Kanseil display a more melodious and different style and do not just rip their songs apart with their growls that is pretty much the trademark of the former. Skyforger – the Vikings from the North – also appears on this radar of mine in a sense, of course, being kind of a different genre.
So, what is their style? I have seen it described as Folk Metal. But they have many medieval elements included in their tune that you usually find in the traditional Medieval and Pagan Folk scene. Albeit some Death Metal elements find themselves on Doin Earde, too. And did I just detect some Black Metal rasps and tremolo picking? Those nicely increase aggression, without descending into cross-burning debauchery.
I specifically like it that their songs come in their native language or ancient dialect and speak about (or are inspired by) their history-laden home area. Ais un Snea is one of these tracks presented in dialect, very interesting.
Kanseil hail from Fregona in the Italian Veneto, embedded in a very nice landscape with a rich history. The area is not very far from Venice, by the way. You can imagine the material and inspiration they are able to find for their songs. Lore, sagas, and myths galore.
The record also maintains speed and energy as the songs progress, all sails set, topgallants abroad. Very unlike productions from other gigs that often lose their juice completely about halfway down their sorry corridor of tracks.
Doin Earde starts – well – with an intro and I usually don’t like intros. But this one is actually pretty well done. But then, all misgivings go out the door. With the second track Ciada Delàmis (a legend about Cansiglio) this piece starts gathering some serious speed. Full, scratchy metal going down with a monologue in the middle, no less. One of my favorites.
And just listen to Panevìn. At first, I had no idea where this was heading. Then it turns Heavy Metal on ye. Then again their tune switches to a weird mix of Death Metal and Medieval Folk Metal on you. Very well done, and surprising as hell. I like it.
Bus de la Lùm (hole of the lights) features an amazing friggin’ solo towards the end. You need some patience to get over the dire beginnings, but then it takes off. The song speaks about a local landmark with a kind of sad recent history. Tzimbar Bint (Cimbrian wind) has been around for a while but is always a pleasure to listen to.
I enjoyed La Sera – a simple, soft ballad about night’s peace and things that may come afterward. Kind of unplugged and in clear voice. The last track highlights the Vajont disaster. A landslide hitting a nearby reservoir in 1963 that caused thousands of casualties. You can find the story online. Again, a complex production with many elements that will require some patience from you to enjoy.
As usual, there are also negatives. For starters, Doin Earde sounds awfully compressed and part of that might stem from the fact that I am listening to an MP3 version, but this is striking. The tracks are not as crisp as you would usually like them. I am missing the spice in the tune somewhat and the precision of delivery will need (a lot of) emphasis.
But having said that, this is a good, very complex, and varied record. Folk, medieval, and pagan elements mixed with a variety of metal styles including Heavy Metal style solo. Doin Earde features an earthy Medieval Folk Metal sound that is really quite unique and in my view talks to the band’s origins very well.
Well done for a debut album. Kanseil have promise. I will continue to watch out for more stuff they produce and might even attend a concert or two.
Ed’s note: The review made it onto the first ever Intermittent Best Of.