The evolution of the band Eluveitie continues with their fifth studio release Helvetios. With each release the band grows nearer to the perfect mix of their folk roots and the death metal that is their passion. While folk metal has been around quite awhile now, it is still a genre which is hard to get right and Eluveitie has come up with one of the few examples where the two worlds blend instead of collide. This concept disc is one that can be pointed to as a definition of all that is good about this form of music.
As you listen to the spoken word "Prologue" it sets a tone that allows the antiquity of what they sing about to come to the forefront. It is not hard to envision the warriors readying themselves for battle in their home land of Gaul. It is the calm before all hell breaks loose. As a tin whistle duels with an electric guitar in the title track "Helvetios" the sense of days long gone interpreted by modern music hits you full force. I think back to where it all started for me as I watched the movie The Highlander and how the music of the group Queen perfectly accented the tale of the ageless ancient warrior. So it is with the music of Eluveitie and especially on this newest release. Chief growler Chrigel Glanzmann has a vocal style that brings out the ageless quality of the music and gives the band a harshness that reflects the life of a soldier of ancient Gaul. As you go through the tale they tell it is easy to get swept up in the story and Eluveitie paints a vivid picture for you.
Electrifying is the term that comes to mind with this disc. As I listen to how perfectly they combine all the elements of the band in a song like "Luxtos" it is hard to think that this form of music can get any better. With this song you get the first taste of singer Anna Murphy who is the beauty to Glanzman's beast. Here is also Eluveitie's amazing ability to blend instruments like a Hurdygurdy and Flute with the crunch of modern guitars to make a piece of music that could only be called a headbanger's jig. It is truly creative and very habit forming.
Some of the disc is sang in the ancient language of Gaul. The haunting warrior's lament "Scorched Earth" is one where you are swept up in the moment thanks to the use of this old word linguistics. You don't need to know what he is saying to feel what he is meaning with this one. The use of the Gaulish language makes it a more powerful statement than would be otherwise. It also serves as the prelude to the clash of titans called "Meet The Enemy". Here you can almost see and feel the battle going on around you as the band cranks it up. This is musical storytelling at it's best. This band has come a long ways and have really hit the mark. They do not compromise at all and seem to relish both the music and the ability to deliver a story too. When they overwhelm you with a song like "Neverland" it is true sensory overload. They hit upon all cylinders and the results are just a magnificent piece of music that is as imaginative as anything I have heard in quite some time.
With each chapter to their tale Eluveitie opens up new and exciting ways to entertain. "A Rose For Epona" allows Anna Murphy to enthrall you with her dynamic vocal style. "Havoc" is just what the title suggest and is pure folk metal dynamite. "The Uprising" is pure metal that is an inspiring anthem like song that is sure to create one or two mosh pits. With "Hope" you get an instrumental interlude where all the olden instruments get a chance to lull you in before being crushed by the heaviness of "The Siege". Torment and a combination of light and heavy that highlights both of their singers Murphy and Glanzman is what hits you between the eyes with the powerful "Alesia" and the culmination of the disc is the astounding "Uxellodunon" that wraps up the story much in the way that the movie Braveheart did. It is all about freedom and this disc expounds on it and this final anthem will keep playing in your mind long after the album is done.
In a time when we are looking for heroes it is the past where we can find many of them. Helvetios is a disc about some of those who stood up for what they believe in and are an inspiration to all. This is one terrific album that not only brings some powerful music to your ears, it brings some hope and a sense of value to those that are willing to stand up and be counted. This one will touch the warrior in all of us!
5. Santonian Shores
6. Scorched Earth
7. Meet The Enemy
9. A Rose For Epona
11. The Uprising
13. The Siege