Celtachor: Nine Waves From The Shore


    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.


RingMaster 29/01/2013

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Heidevolk: Batavi

With strong chest beating and red hot blood rushing through its veins the new album from Dutch folk metalers Heidevolk is a stirring and thoroughly pleasing release. With a firmer aggression and intensity then on previous releases, Batavi the fourth album from the band is an expressive force which excites and deeply satisfies. Even with the limitation for many in the fact the band sing in their home tongue the energetic intent and craft within the emotive sound and voice immerses one into the turbulence and theme that fuels the release easily.

Batavi transports the listener to a time of violent unrest as Germanic tribes waged war against the Roman Empire along the banks of the Rhine for domination of Northwest Europe. Alliances, intrigue, and betrayal were rife as the Batavians, the protagonists of the new album from Heidevolk, found themselves stuck in the middle of the conflict. Through their own brand of traditional pagan metal the Dutch band bring forth the struggle and fight of the time and people to great effect with songs that are as catchy as they are striking, and as proud as they are forceful.

Formed in 2002 in Arnhem, the band did not take long to draw acclaim and a strong following through their mesmeric intense live shows and releases. From their debut album of 2005 De strijdlust is geboren, coming after the demo Het Gelders Volkslied the year before; through to albums Walhalla Wacht and Uit oude grond of 2008 and 2010 respectively, Heidevolk with their defined sound of thundering riffs, folk veined melodies, mountainous rhythms and triumphant clean vocals explore their chosen genre to pulse racing effect. With Batavi they have stiffened up their sound and flexed broader muscles to create an album which leaves one breathless and fired up whilst basking in an instinctive sweeping dark grace.

As the towering rhythms and tense riffs of opener Een nieuw begin march through the ear alongside the enthused harmonies of dual vocalists Joris den Boghtdrincker and Mark Splintervuyscht, there is instant recognition that here is a galvanising and inciting experience waiting to flourish upon the senses. The drums of Joost den Vellenknotscher lead the way with a formidable hand whilst the bass of Rowan Roodbaert and guitars from Reamon Bomenbreker lead the battle cry. The sound reminds one of heavy metal Finnish band Stam1na more than of other folk/pagan metal bands showing that Heidevolk openly stand apart from similar genre bands.

De toekomst lonkt raises the intensity further, the song rampaging forth with a determination and willingness to engage forcibly whilst still surging with vocals that spill strength, confidence and pride. Musically Heidevolk are as accomplished and impressive as they are incessant and irrepressible but it is the vocals that set the band further apart from the likes of Tyr, Ensiferum and other pagan metal bands, they are simply soaring and glorious whilst retaining the power and might the music needs. The song sets the heart up to stand tall and confront whilst the following likes of Het verbond met Rome and Wapenbroeders only go to reinforce the inspired quickening of breath and eagerness ignited within.

Songs like Als de dood weer naar ons lacht, the thrash/folk bliss of Einde der zege, and the wonderful melancholic acoustic instrumental Veleda, show the diversity and versatility of band and album, a release that offers a varied feast on each and every slice of folk metal presented. Musically Heidevolk do not push boundaries as far as they certainly could but with sounds as easily consumable and uplifting in spirit as those on Batavi it is not a real complaint, and with such bass and baritone vocal might ripping through each song the deficiency is barely noticeable.

Batavi is stunning and an album that can only bring good things to the ear and music, Heidevolk use adrenaline and uncomplicated mastery to enflame the senses and show pagan or folk metal has no need for tricks or frivolities to be a genre with true heart and quality.

RingMaster 02/023/2012

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