In 2002, Chrigel Glanzmann founded Eluveitie in Switzerland as a studio project which in time became a full band. While still relative newcomers, they released their first major label recording Slania in which would later be heralded as one of the most important reasons for the band’s break-through. Describing themselves as ‘The new wave of folk metal’ their blend of traditional instruments and elements of Celtic folk music with melodic death metal gave rise to international success and a surge in the genre.
The album differed from many folk metal releases in that the lead instruments which include flutes, pipes and hurdy gurdy supplement the melodies that would typically be played on electric guitars. The guitars add the depth, heaviness and girth of the metal aspect.
With lyrics predominantly in English with a smattering of ancient Gaul (effectively an extinct language) it gives a more haunting and ethereal touch. Admittedly it could be elvish or the ‘Hopelandic’ of Sigur Ros for my ignorance. The name originated from an inscription on the tombstone of girl buried some 2500 years ago which Glanzmann came across during his research.
The album is themed around the concept of ‘The Great Wheel’ or the wheel of the year in Celtic mythology (which incorporates the four seasons and the solstices). There are four main times of feasting and celebration within this annual cycle and for each of these there is an instrumental track on the album.
Mastermind Chrigel Glanzmann comments:
“How time flies – hard to believe that it‘s already 10 years since we‘ve released this album! These last ten years have been incredibly intense, they led us through many a trial and brought us a myriad of blessings. They‘ve led us to countless places all around this earth. And all through the years, the songs of this album were with us and we‘re still playing them live today!
So we’re proud of “Slania” and we’re really happy with this re-release and also pretty excited about the bonus goodies it comes with! We hope you’ll enjoy as much as we do! Cheers!”
This release features an additional interview and additional demo versions of five tracks (including Inis Mona).
Samon introduces the theme with the wind whispering, a solitary voice speaks while embers crackle setting an atmosphere which is somewhat chilling, but the primitive safety of the fire adds a magical sense of otherworldly security. Primordial Breath powers up with guitars, woodwind and gruff vocals in a powerfully exhilarating anthem.
Inis Mona is a gloriously passionate driving heavy folk anthem with haunting pipes, time signature changes and an ethereal flute solo which elevates this beyond expectations. Gray Sublimecomes in harder, with a breakdown unlike any other while Antagantios with prominent hurdy gurdy and gentle vocals by Anna Murphy (now Cellar Darling) is a wistful melancholy instrumental that resets and allows reflection as our wheel spins ever onward.
Bloodstained Gound is hard, heavy and at a frenetic pace to invigorate and enchant. The Somber Lay with its delightful double guitars adds an element of NWOBHM, while the addition of tin whistles takes what might have been a very melodic death metal track into the stratosphere. Slania’s Song is a beautiful tribute to the unknown girl beyond the tombstone, with dual vocals from Murphy and Galzmann it has an epic feel.
Thunder introduces Giamonios, an impassioned flute and bodhran interlude, then the crashing of Tarvos with brutal guitar riffs and vocals and spiralling wind instruents. Calling The Rain is a glorious gallop which could rouse the dead. Elembivos marches us onwards with invigorating chanting and whimsical hury gurdy even an impassioned guitar solo as the endless wheel continues to rotate.
Returning us to our beginnings with an accoustic version of Samon.
Beyond the grave, radio Eluveitie offers an Interview With Slania, a decade on conducted in the language of the ancients but fortunately with translation. It’s considerably less contrived than you may imagine and is a great addition for fans of both Eluveitie and celtic language. The remaining five tracks are ‘demo’ versions of Samon, Primordial Breath, Inis Mona, Bloodstained Ground and Tarvos. Each offers a different perspective on the originals and while these are glorious in their own right, the true joy may originate in the contrast of the familiarity of the originals. Other than difference in resolution of the balance.
If you are unfamiliar with Eluveitie and you are a fan of pagan/ Viking/ Celtic/ folk or even melodic death metal and you are curious to broaden your horizons, give this a spin. Especially if you enjoy thrash guitars, blast beats and ethereal instrumentation. Existing fans should be delighted with the new additions.
- Primordial Breath
- Inis Mona
- Grey Sublime Archon
- Bloodstained Ground
- The Somber Lay
- Slanias Song
- Calling The Rain
- Samon (Acoustic Version)
- Interview With Slania
- Samon (Demo)
- Primordial Breath (Demo)
- Inis Mona (Demo)
- Bloodstained Ground (Demo)
- Tarvos (Demo)
Eluveitie‘ s Slania is available for purchase now here
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