ELUVEITIE – Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion (2009)

Eluveitie - Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion While my initial review of Eluveitie’s last album was mildly positive, as the year wore on, it grew on me (especially after seeing their blistering live show at PaganFest that summer), and it wound up becoming one of my favorite metal albums of last year. So when I found out that they’d be releasing not one, but two new albums this year, it took all my strength to resist the urge to build a sun wheel and play the hurdy gurdy in front of it whilst dancing to celebrate the arrival of Samhain (even though it wasn’t November…yet). Imagine my surprise when I discovered that Evocation I (and presumably, Evocation II as well) wasn’t a metal album at all.

For those of you unfamiliar with Eluveitie, allow me to fill you in: the band (who hail from Switzerland), play folk metal, mixing traditional Celtic/Gaulish instruments and themes into black metal songs. Now, there’s lots of folk metal bands; some of the more notable ones would be Finntroll, Primordial and Korpiklaani. But, aside from the occasional interlude, most folk metal bands have never stripped the “metal” out of their sound, and dedicated an album’s worth of material to the folk aspects that remain. But that’s what Eluveitie do here. If there’s a midpoint between Dead Can Dance and Sol Invictus, Evocation I resides there.

Given that the album is, conceptually, delves more deeply into Gaulish mythology than any of the band’s previous work, going acoustic here makes sense, but unfortunately, the album wears thinner and thinner as it goes on. Worse yet, some odd stylistic choices, such as randomly including black metal shrieks in a few of the songs, totally ruin the atmosphere the band were going for.

Still, Evocation I is not without its high points. But there’s less of them here than on any of the band’s previous albums, and the band’s creation of a purely folk album isn’t by any means a failure, it certainly is the weakest entry in their catalog to date. Perhaps it’ll feel more complete when Evocation II is released later this year. We’ll have to wait and see now, won’t we? Now, where’s my sun wheel?


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