Darkest Era – Severance

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Taking the inventive promise and striking quality of their acclaimed debut album to another creative level, Northern Ireland band Darkest Era unveil their sophomore release Severance. It is a weighty and potently persuasive encounter sure to replicate and intensify the reception and success of its predecessor, eight tracks which spark the imagination with persistently captivating and distinctive Celtic infused heavy metal. Musically the album has a slightly lighter climate than before but still the emotive fire and melodic passion of the band comes in a fusion with raw textures and imposing intensity. It is a compelling mix which never leaves a minute of sound lacking in punch and inventive voracity.

The seeds of Darkest Era began in 2005 with when teenage school friends, guitarists Ade Mulgrew and Sarah Wieghell. Starting to write together, the pair linked up with vocalist Krum as their songs, taking inspiration from the historical and mythological tales from ancient Ireland, emerged with a Celtic essence. The following year a demo appeared under the name of Nemesis which soon held the attention of the European metal underground. 2007 saw Darkest Era step forward, a change made in relation to the darker presence and voice of their evolving music. Across the next three years, the band released a couple of EPs and played plenty of shows including festivals appearances in Germany, Greece, the UK, and Italy. Debut album The Last Caress Of Light was released in 2011 via Metal Blade Records to strong and eager responses from fans and media alike. The years between releases has seen Darkest Era undertake European and UK tours with bands such as Alestorm, Arkona, and Gloryhammer alongside their own shows and the creation of Severance.

With a line-up completed by bassist Daniel O’Toole and drummer Cameron Åhslund-Glass, the Belfast based quintet recorded their new DarkestEra_coverCruz Del Sur Music released album with producer Chris Fielding. It is a proposition which makes an instant impact as opening track Sorrow’s Boundless Realm seduces ears and senses from its opening caress of guitar as throaty bass bred shadows lurk in the background. It is an intrigue lit coaxing which soon unveils rhythmic sinews and richer sonic colour which only reinforces the initial lure of the song. A rampant urgency is careering through ears from there as the outstanding voice of Krum parades the narrative of the song. Fully expanded, the song is a fiery and caressing mix of energy and enterprise veined by gripping bass and drum intimidation and a sonic weave of seduction from the guitars. It is not a song which startles and has jaws dropping but with every twist and turn of sound and ideation, the track as the album captivates and lights thoughts along with emotions.

There is also an enveloping emotion and drama to every aspect of the song which is swiftly emulated by the following Songs Of Gods And Men. Its entrance also makes a gentle touch but takes less time to open the cage to ravenous riffing and rhythmic stalking. Krum is again masterful as he rides the sonic flames pushing the walls of the song, his voice backed as potently by the rest of the band within the anthemic stride and expressive premise of the encounter. There is a melancholic air to the song, an essence permeating each track in varying degrees, which graces the melodic elegance and grandeur of the song and casts an enthralling hue for the vocals and lyrics to colour their emotions with. It is a vibrant captivation which in its distinct way The Serpent And The Shadow repeats but with a darker and more rapacious presence. There is a deeper snarl to the bass and stronger rigorousness to the riffs setting a coarse and hungry tone to the heart of the song, a predation which intimidates but is a perfect foil and instigator for the dynamic fire of sonic flames and vocal adventure which burn and roar respectively across the song.

The following Beyond The Grey Veil is an evocative ballad with its own specific dark shadows and intimate emotional reflection, a song which croons with vocal majesty and melodic seducing whilst still managing to bring a predacious intent to certainly the breath-taking latter part of its enthralling body. It is fair to say that many of the songs are slow burners in finding their fullest persuasion, this definitely one but it is a song emerging as one of the most impressive and impacting. Its successor Trapped In The Hourglass is another to need more examinations than others and though it fails to live up to the previous track again makes a convincing and enjoyable proposition.

The Scavenger has little difficulty in grabbing attention and appetite, its early grooves leading to an intensive gallop of rhythmic tenacity upon which hooks and melodic enticement catch ears and thoughts at every flexing of the song’s spine and inventive ideation. A blaze of creative fertility and contagious power metal like vivacity, it is a tremendous exploit straight away matched by the equally powerful emprise of A Thousand Screaming Souls. As the song before, the listener feels like a warrior riding on a nostril flaring steed as a spellbinding landscape opens up and engulfs the imagination. The two songs encapsulate everything potent and riveting about Darkest Era and their music, emotionally epic and inventively broad but a companion which is intimate within the larger tales it spawns.

The album closes with the towering and melodically pungent Blood, Sand And Stone, an intensely evocative croon within climactic tempestuous scenery. It is a great conclusion to an impressive and skilfully presented album, a release which reinforces Darkest Era as one of the increasingly potent melodic metal bands in Europe. There is very little if anything to hold up against the undeniably fine album but personally it is honest to say that Severance did not leave passions as excited as hoped and expected. Individually there are songs which ignite a real hunger and as a whole the album is an engrossing and strongly pleasing experience, but somewhere we missed that fuse to the strongest reactions. Most will not have that issue though we suspect so it is very easy to recommend Severance to all.

Severance is available in digital, CD, and Vinyl options via Cruz Del Sur Music now in the US and from June 13th in Europe.

http://www.darkestera.net

8/10

RingMaster 04/06/2014

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Celtachor: Nine Waves From The Shore

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    Celtachor is a band whose name we had come across plenty of times without making a concentrated effort to seriously check out their sounds. The release of their debut album Nine Waves From The Shore has given us the opportunity to amend that slackness and with ease the Irish blackened folk metallers impress. Their album is a refreshing and potent blend of Celtic folk and black metal with a passion and heart for its inspiration and a sound which shares those same intensive traits; an aggressive and melodic enchantment which leaves one smitten.

From an established idea in 2007 to a realised and working band in 2010, Dubliners Celtachor have announced themselves as the ‘the narrators of Irish Mythology’ with the purpose of bringing to life their vision of the stories which live vibrantly within that history. Since forming the band has earned a strong reputation through their live shows which has found them alongside bands such as Skyforger, Primordial, Heidevolk, Suidakra, Cruachan, Wolfchant, Alestorm, Darkest Era, and many more, and their previous self recorded demo In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers of 2010. The newly self-released Nine Waves From The Shore was recorded across 2011 and 2012; the time and intense attention spent on its craft and realisation obvious in presence within the release and its perfect blend of two arguably opposing yet conducive genres. The seamless and instinctive merger of the venomous and uncompromising essences of black metal and the contagious and epic glory of folk metal is an impressively accomplished and sculpted weave, a balance which could be difficult and precarious for most achieved with skilled imagination here. Probably the release does not have the swagger of the best folk/pagan metal albums but the seriousness which comes from their obvious attention to detail and the potent shadows which line the vision inspiring tales, makes the release just as compelling.

As the building waves of intensity in opener The Landing: Amergin’s Conquest envelop the ear to make way for the fiery Celtachor-–-Nine-Waves-From-The-Shoreguitars and smouldering atmosphere thereafter there is an immediate immersion into the powerful presence of the song. The vocals of Stephen Roche are a rasping squall which storm from within the blanket of tempest sourced sounds whilst the glorious persuasions of the whistle and passion directing rhythms hold a firm and hypnotic grip. Epic, aggressive, and challenging in sound and within its tale, the track is a towering fortress of incendiary forces and primal instinct.

The following track, The Battle of Tailtin takes over from the ten minute colossus with a similarly driven assault, though only after igniting the senses with an excellent rhythmic intro which calls the body to arms ready for the bruising encounter. Again as the vocals spill their expressive spite the guitars of David Quinn and Fionn Staffort ignite the expanses of melodic enterprise and unrelenting brutality whilst the bass of Emile Quigley (who has since left the band to be replaced by Oliver Deegan) adds an irresistible darkness to the track which is as inviting as it is intimidating. Mid-way the riotous sounds recede to open up the vision of the battlefield framed by the continually impressive beats of Anaïs Chareyre and the fiery impassioned incitement of the whistle. Overall it is another full on expansive storm in intensity and length, the song a companion to its predecessor in more ways and one and leaves by its departing consumption of ravenous metal, an exhausted listener behind.

The acoustic beckoning of The Kingship Of Bodb Dearg with again stunning melodic caresses from the whistles instantly has one smouldering in pleasure and when the heavier yet enthused bassline and energising drums enter there is  an immediate submission before its majesty. Soon though the song unveils its sinews and stomps across the ear with an energetic muscular infectious whilst again the vocals of Roche skilfully removes the protective layers between his caustic delivery and the senses. The track is a varied and adventurous episode in the theme of the album with again a superbly crafted meld of dark and light in all aspects whilst the following Sorrow Of The Dagda again teases and kisses the ear with a delicious acoustic entrance before crushing the air and ear with a tremendous onslaught of rhythms and intense hostility. The track is a rampaging furnace of invention and passion which travels the lengths of sonic extremes with real craft. As impressive though it is it does find itself overshadowed by its successor the gorgeous instrumental Tar éis an Sidhe. A heated breeze of golden warm melodic shards and enrapturing beauty the song is a sublime and emotive glory.

The album closes by returning to the ferocity of before with the tribal mayhem of the excellent Conn Of The Hundred Battles and the equally combative Anann: Ermne’s Daughter. Both are heart pounding encounters which ignite the passions and with the moment of reflective peace before ensures that the album ends on its greatest plateau. Nine Waves From The Shore is a fully absorbing and thrilling release though not without a niggle, the vocals needing more clarity within the rich expanse of sound and possible a little diversity too, but it only inspires one to feel the band is destined for greatness. Do not wait until then though Celtachor deserves your recognition now.

http://www.celtachor.com/

RingMaster 29/01/2013

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