'Ategnatos'- Eluveitie / Turned Up Louder
In 2002, vocalist, instrumentalist and all-round polymath Chrigel Glanzmann formed Eluveitie initially as a studio project with session musicians, but after the release of their debut EP Vên, they became a full band, initially with ten members and an ambitious goal of combining melodic death metal with celtic folk music. Seventeen years, seven albums and several line-up changes later, Eluveitie approach the release of their eighth studio album, Ategnatos, with a reputation as being one of the folk metal bands around; although that reputation has somewhat suffered of late thanks to the departure of long-time members Anna Murphy, Ivo Henzi and Merlin Sutter in 2016 and the subsequent release of their acoustic album Evocation II: Pantheon to mixed reviews. Ategnatos (which, rather aptly, is the Gallic word for "rebirth") seeks to get the band back on track.
The record starts in typical Eluveitie fashion, with a spoken word intro ushering in a melodic fusion of guitars, drums and folk instruments such as bagpipes and whistles before eventually crescendoing into the brutally heavy version of Eluveitie that fans have come to know and love. The title track (and second single) that starts the album is an incredible relief to anyone who was still concerned that the band's best days are behind them. The best thing about Eluveitie has always been when they have been able to fully merge both elements that make their sound unique and there are plenty of songs on Ategnatos that do this, such as Deathwalker which follows another spoken word track. Brutal riffs and curdling screams are accompanied by Michalina Malisz's hurdy-gurdy and Fabienne Erni's soaring clean vocals and enthralling solos by Niclle Ansperger on fiddles and Matteo Sisti on whistles.
Moreso than in many of their previous efforts Eluveitie make heavy use of the "Beauty and Beast" approach to their songs with Glanzmann and Erni interchanging through songs like Black Water Dawn and The Raven Hill, whereas previously there has been more of an inclination to favour individual songs where one vocalist dominates. Indeed, this an album that strikes a delicate balance between getting back to basics and exploring new avenues from the Swiss folk metallers. Though they have always been heavy, they stretch this frantic brutality even further with A Cry in the Wilderness and Mine Is The Fury, which contain some terrificly powerful rhythm work from Kay Brem and Alain Ackermann, as well as the blistering double guitars from Rafael Salzmann and Jonas Wolf.
On the other hand, the other two singles to have been released before the album, apart from the title track, are much more inclined to the melodic side. Ambiramus contains some amazing vocal work midway through the album, Rebirth at the end stands out as perhaps the strongest track on the album (not least due to Salzmann's terrific guitar solo), apart from possibly Breathe immediately before it, and is a beautiful combination of the many elements that Eluveitie have at their disposal. The two problems the album has to contend with are the fact that while there are some incredibly good songs on there, none contend with their real classics like Inis Mona or Call of the Mountains. Furthermore, while there is not a bad song on the album, it could do with losing a quarter of its songs. Those particularly towards the end of the album do not have particular value and would have improved the album's overall impact had they been left out.
Nevertheless, this does not mean that Ategnatos is anything other than a triumph. It is a great collection of their poetry and amalgamation of disperse elements into coherent and memorable songwriting and a brilliant return to form for the band ahead of their upcoming summer festival performances and tours. Considering their live prowess, the prospect of hearing this new material soon is very great indeed.
'Ategnatos' is out now via Nuclear Blast Records.
Check out the video for the album's title track, 'Ategnatos', below:
Eluveitie are heading out on an expansive touring schedule this summer, including an appearance at Bloodstock Festival and an EU tour scheduled for this winter. Full dates and links for tickets can be found at: https://www.bandsintown.com/a/7055?came_from=270