|Release Date||5 April 2019|
|Record Label||Nuclear Blast|
In more than a decade of making folk metal, Eluveitie have never released a record that I didn’t like. Some are definitely worse than others, with 2017’s Evocation II – Pantheon being on the bottom of my list, but even it is a good album. So, it should come as no surprise that their eighth album, Ategnatos, is pretty fucking solid.
As usual, Eluveitie’s many musicians produce a rich sound that’s full to the brim with different elements. Their mix of clean and harsh vocals, crunchy guitars, traditional instruments, and killer drumming accommodates heavy blast beats as well as vibrant folk melodies. While there’s not a single player that is less than excellent, female vocalist (and harper/mandola-er) Fabienne Erni is the highlight for me. This is her second album with the group after she replaced Anna Murphy (who left to form Cellar Darling) in 2017. While both are great vocalists, I do prefer Erni; she projects a bit more power than Murphy and I think she suits Eluveitie better.
One minor thing that I really, really enjoy is the chorus that’s introduced in the beginning of the titular track and then returns in the closers, ‘Rebirth’, and ‘Eclipse’ (although, ‘Eclipse’ is just an atmospheric vocal extension of ‘Rebirth’). It’s a small point, but it’s not very often that a metal album will have a recurring melody, so it’s a nice touch. It’s also catchy as all hell and I haven’t been able to get it out of my head for a day and a half.
Ategnatos is incredibly fluid. Each track transitions perfectly into the next, sometimes assisted by a short instrumental track (‘Ancus’, ‘The Silvern Glow’, ‘Trinoxtion’). It’s also very dynamic, with most songs containing everything from furious blast beats, folk instrumentals, and pulled back sections. The only borderline-mediocre track on the album is ‘Breathe’, which is basically a typical alt metal track. Other than that, they all go together quite well.
Ok, I know I literally just said that all of the songs go together, which they do, but there are a couple that are especially distinct from the rest. The first (also my favourite) is ‘Ambiramus’, which is easily the funnest track on the album. The flute melody is uplifting, the beat is bouncy, and the whole thing is just a blast. The second would be the aforementioned ‘Eclipse’. Erni leads this vocal feature with a stunning, mournful beauty and shamelessly shows off her versatile chops. ‘Eclipse’ may only be the same repeated chorus over some wind and distant chords, but she still manages to accomplish so much with it.
Portraying nothing but fantastic folkery, Ategnatos has definitely made it into my top Eluveitie albums. Its pounding highs and foreboding lows create a unique, reflective atmosphere. On the flip side, the lively instrumentals and choruses could easily be danced to. This juxtaposition is typical of Eluveitie, but they’re damn good at it. Make sure to listen to this one next month!
Originally written for metal-observer.com
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