Friday, March 2, 2012

Eluveitie - Helvetios Review!

Check out my review of Eluveitie's fantastic new album, Helvetios, featured at The Metal Pit!

I used to hate harsh vocals.  I still try to tell myself that I don’t like them.  But when I heard Folk Metal band Eluveitie’s new album, Helvetios, I finally accepted that I actually love harsh vocals.  Even in the almost-metalcore vocal offerings on “The Siege,” I was enthralled.  I punched my steering wheel and wanted to kill things.  It was utterly badass.  And then, out of nowhere, in the middle of the song comes a beautiful violin solo which then builds back into the face-melting nearly metalcore thrashing.  That’s why I love Eluveitie.  There’s just so much depth and variety in every single album, and they keep getting better.

Besides the expected epic metal guitars and crazy awesome drums, there are bagpipes, whistles, crazy violin solos—the instrumentation and musicianship of this band is just mind-boggling.  And vocals!  In Helvetios, hurdy-gurdy player Anna Murphy’s beautifully sweet vocals show up on multiple songs.  Chrigel’s passionate, emotional screams still make orgasms happen in my ears, and now there’s the sweet voice of Anna to make my ears orgasm TWICE.  She truly shines in “A Rose for Epona,” a beautifully emotional song that proves that she’s a seriously good singer, damn it, and then she sings on many more songs on the album in case you didn’t get the message.  I just can’t get over how much awesome variety there is in this album. 

At a whopping 17 tracks, the album can roughly be summed up as follows:

Prologue:  Spoken, beautifully written story about Helvetios.  I can’t ever skip it even though there’s no music, and it makes the next song (and the whole album) that much more epic.
Helvetios:  Epic.  Just epic.  Blew my mind first listen.
Luxtos:  Feels like a second part of “Helvetios.”  Continues with epic-ness and has an awesomely catchy and folkish chorus.  Makes me bounce.
Home:  Eases off on the epic-ness and turns down the Folk dial a bit.  Sounds a bit generic when compared to the previous two songs.
Santonian Shores:  Turns the Folk dial back up a bit, but still not as impressive as “Helvetios” and “Luxtos.”
Scorched Earth:  Lovely,  soft lamentation sung in Gaulish by guest vocalist Christoph Pelgen. 
Meet the Enemy:  Punches you in the face after you’ve been lulled into a dreamy countryside by “Scorched Earth.”  A la “Quoth the Raven,” Anna has a nice mid-song scream in here.
Neverland:  Continues to pummel you with Metal, and features a nice, catchy chorus.  Great Metal/Folk balance in this song.
A Rose for Epona:  Another epic song.  I could seriously listen to this gorgeous song on repeat for hours and never get bored.  Beautiful. 
Havoc:  Opens with a great violin solo and is a pretty epic song that showcases Eluveitie’s incredibly awesome Metal/Folk balance.  Like “Meet the Enemy,” but more Folk. 
The Uprising:  In the vein of “Meet the Enemy” and “Havoc,” but with a great spoken bit by the narrator from the prologue.
Hope:  Aptly-named Folk instrumental. 
The Siege:  So brutal that it’s almost metalcore in places.  Anna’s screams in this are chillingly awesome.  This whole song is chillingly awesome.  It’s one of the best on the whole album.
Alesia:  Gives both listeners and Helvetians a break in this gorgeous song that again showcases Anna’s lovely vocals (but with more Chrigel than “Epona”).
Tullianum:  Heart-breaking spoken words by Anna.  It’s only 20-ish seconds long.
Uxellodunon:  Great final song.  Chrigel’s screams of “we will never forget” really bring this one home.
Epilogue:  Narrator brings the story full circle, followed by a sad/hopeful instrumental.  And there’s a choir!  Yes. 

This album is truly wonderful.  The great story, raw emotion, and pure awesomeness of the songs make this album one of my favorite Folk Metal releases—perhaps even of all Metal releases—of 2012.  It’s only March, but I doubt this one can be topped.

Songs that I thought were especially awesome:  Helvetios, Luxtos, A Rose for Epona, Havoc, The Siege, Alesia, Uxellodunon.

Rating:  9.5/10 

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