Eluveitie - SlaniaMonsieur Axl Rosenberg said it best when he stated that Switzerland’s Eluveitie are like In Flames only sexier; I’d add to that “only decidedly more medieval.” While it’s true that Slania might remind us of the best of In Flames from time to time, to make that comparison would be to rob Slania of its originality. With violins, bagpipes, a hurdy gurdy, and flute juxtaposed with death metal growls and classic twin-lead guitars, Eluveitie have created a near seamless blend of Celtic folk and Gothenburg metal. If a non-metal friend of mine asked me what the fuck Pagan Metal is I might just play them this album, and I might just don my knight armor for affect. “Primordial Breath” is the perfect album opener, both brutal and truly pagan-riffic in composition. First single “Inis Mona” (video here) makes me want to head to the hills of Scotland for a frosty pint in an old bar on a cobblestone lined street. The non-English female vocal lead in “Slania’s Song” courtesy of hurdy-gurdyist Anna Murphy fits perfectly, complimenting the brutal guitars and growls in a way that’s not corny in the slightest. The violin and Gregorian chant that comprise all 3+ minutes of “Anagantios” are a chilling, haunting, and perfectly beautiful match for the brutal metal you know is lurking right around the corner in “Bloodstained Ground.” And there it is, like a sledgehammer of thrash waiting to pummel you into sensibility before opening into a surprisingly brutal flute-led chorus (who knew there could be such a thing?) that leads into a syncopated cacaphony of orchestral goodness. And it’s this mix of orchestral goodness with neo-classical death metal that makes me feel like I’m galloping on my horse, spear in hand, shield raised high, charging towards an angry herd of invading barbarians. Or at least I’m at a Renaissance festival full of people who like to play dress-up on the weekends. But either way, boy is it fucking fun, and shit, this album absolutely slays — dragons, that is.


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(four out of five horns)

Slania comes out today on Nuclear Blast. Be sure to catch Eluveite this Spring on the Paganfest USA tour. Full dates are listed here.

[Eluveitie on MySpace]

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