Eluveitie - Vn

Fear Dark Records

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Now THIS is what I'm talkin' about!!  Hailing from Helvetia (Switzerland), Eluveitie is a 10 (yes 10!!) piece band that plays an absolutely stunning brand of Celtic folk-influenced pagan metal.
 
Why do they need ten members you may ask?  Well, aside from your standard electric guitars, drums, and bass, the band also incorporates the acoustic guitar, fiddle, tin/low whistles, Irish bagpipes, Irish flute, Hurdygurdy, Bouzouki, Bodhrn, and Helvetic bagpipes.  Now I won't even pretend to know what a few of those instruments are, or even what they sound like.  But the Helvetic bagpipes was actually an instrument that died out during the middle ages, but according to the band was rediscovered in the last 30 years.  Supposedly, there are only about ten of them in the world.
 
What is even cooler about this band is that some of the songs are written and sung in a reconstructed form of the more or less forgotten language: Helvetic Gaulish.   The band's name even comes from the language and means "I am Helvetian".  The band was actually formed in 2002 as a studio project only, but after the MCD release of their Vn album they received such a great response that they went in search of more permanent members.  Now the band has signed to Fear Dark Records and is re-releasing this completely re-mastered version of Vn.
 
Enough about the band's background already.  What everyone is more curious about is the music.  And believe me, the music does not disappoint.  The emotion and passion involved in making this disc is evident in each and every song.  The album starts off with the track "D'Vri Agge D'Bitu".  The song starts calmly with soft beats and some cool chanting before the heavier guitars and flutes (and some of the other instruments that I don't recognize by ear) join in to finish the song.  The second song "Uis Elveti" picks the pace up somewhat with a more powerful, crunchy guitar sound.  The vocals on the album range from from a slight death growl, to a throaty/yelled/chanted vocal style.  This song also incorporates some clean female vocals and hoarse whispered male vocals that sound fantastic with the interesting pronunciation of the Gaulish language.

"r" is the third song and is a short instrumental.  The sound of thunder rumbling and wind whistling in the background as bagpipes play has a very calming effect.  "Lament" is up next and is one of only two English sung songs on the album.  The opening fiddles make you think the song will be a slow tune, but the brutal guitars, intense drumming, and growled vocals break up the tranquil opening.  The fiddles show up often throughout the rest of the song along with the harsh guitars and blastbeats.

"Druid" is another very heavy song with an interesting intro of flutes, grim guitars, and blasting.  The song is quite extreme, but finds ways to incorporate more flutes, choirs, and fiddles into the mix.  "Jzag"  closes the album with another great instrumental that leaves you wishing that Eluveitie would hurry up and complete the full length that they are supposedly hard at work on.

Production and packaging are fabulous on this disc.  The CD booklet has some great artwork and photos.  It includes a cool black and white full band photo and lyrics to all songs.  Speaking of lyrics, the songs seem to be pretty neutral and according to the band are about the celtic clan of the Helvetians and celtic topics in general.

All in all, I absolutely love this disc.  This is a fabulous effort by a very talented band that you be crazy to overlook.  (Review by Matt)
 

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