Founded in 1994, the prolific German Celtic metal SuidAkrA’s thirteenth studio album is to be released On November 16th. Renowned for their bombastic melodic, folky, pagan, death metal style, ‘Cimbric Yarns‘ is a far departure from their norm. It’s a glorious soundscape of symphonic, ACOUSTIC FOLK music. Before you drop your reading device, this isn’t finger in the ear sea shanties or the choice for Arran jumpered, bearded, welly wearers. Think more folk tale. Think Led Zeppelin’s acoustic odes to the Lord of The Rings (Ramble On, The Battle of Evermore, there’s some dispute about the one with the Tolkien line All that is gold does not glitter ..) but with deeper, gruffer vocals and more orchestral. Think glorious landscapes, epic battles for survival, sacrifice and heroism. More Game of Thrones than sheep dog trials. But feel free to wear a flat cap and smoke a pipe while listening!
Continuing (in the form of a prequel) the legend of Odoric as devised by painter Kris Verwimp and Arkadius Antonik for ‘Realms of Odoric’ and is more of a soundtrack to a majestic vision. Belgian artist Verwimp (the creative head for the lyrical concept and artwork) explains it:
“Continuing the ‘Realms of Odoric’ saga, ‘Cimbric Yarns’ harks back to where it all began. Thousands of years before Odoric’s time, there existed an advanced civilisation that perished in a great cosmic cataclysm. ‘Cimbric Yarns’ is an attempt at recreating its mythology, inspired by ancient Celtic texts and megalithic sites from all over the world. It weaves a fine thread between history and fantasy, chronicling the fate of its main characters Cruàc, Arma and Aenea in 10 compelling acoustic songs.”
It is the first acoustic album in the band’s history and its biggest collaboration with musicians all over the world.
Echtra opens with strummed deep strings, drums akin to something you would hear in the Mines of Moria, gongs and bowed strings before a canter takes us out onwards to this adventure- complete with spoken word introduction. Serpentine Origins has an almost medieval quality and the epic unfolds serenely.
There is little more rousing than a well-played frame drum. Are those bodhrains? In the background? Do let me know. Celestial piano tinkles meet sensual vocals and sublimely picked acoustic guitars, haunting flutes and melancholy electric bass, double bass and cello for this Ode to Arma a beautiful ballad. Cleverly it manages to incorporate a banjo without causing hysterics. A Day And Forever is more a more pensive track, sung by Tina Stabel with further ethereal storytelling.
Black Dawn is probably the ‘heaviest’ track with a driving bassline comprising bowed cellos, plucked bass and an explosion. The mood lightens with the impassioned At Nine Light Night, revere the stones, there’s almost a military tattoo aspect as we march onward to Snakehenge. Even the chant of ‘Snake’… ‘Henge’ cannot put me off. Dramatic, dark and somewhat elating. Do check it out here
Birth And Despair is how I imagine a medieval New Model Army (the band, not the army) could have interpreted All Along The Watchtower in an alternative universe. A very alternative universe. Impassioned and emotive, with a rousing chorus and Bowie-esque vocals fading out. My interpretations are entirely my own, apologise for any undue stress I may cause.
Assault On Urlár hints at exhaustion and desperation, but also pride and hope as our penultimate track delivers us closer to the journeys end. Caoine Cruác concludes our odyssey a reassuring manner.
I have a confession, other than Prince of The Poverty Line (Skyclad), I am not a huge fan of folk metal (they blew my mind live in 1994). Post-punk folk (New Model Army, Pogues, Levellers, Violent Femmes, Oysterband) folk rock (Thin Lizzy, Renaissance, Horslips, Lindisfarne, Fairport and of course Tyrannosaurus Rex) and the original folk revivalists Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Bob Dylan etc. even the pop-folk-rock of Del Amitri I love.
A truly magical adventure, feed your head with acoustic folk metal. This has been a mind opener for me and I will be sure to check out SuidArkA’s back catalogue. In a perfect world this album will be animated, become a blockbuster and loved by all.
02 Serpentine Origins
03 Ode To Arma
04 A Day And Forever
05 Black Dawn
06 At Nine Light Night
08 Birth And Despair
09 Assault On Urlár
10 Caoine Cruác
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