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 guitars 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.
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