Nuclear Blast
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

1. Ategnatos
2. Ancus
3. Deathwalker
4. Black Water Down
5. A Cry in the Wilderness
6. The Raven Hill
7. The Silvern Glow
8. Ambiramus
9. Mine Is The Fury
10. The Slumber
11. Worship
12. Trinoxtion
13. Threefold Death
14. Breathe
15. Rebirth
16. Eclipse

A decade ago, as folk metal enjoyed its somewhat expected commercial explosion in Europe, the genre tag swiftly became synonymous with a kind of semi-comedic party metal. Not that there is anything wrong with TURISAS, FINNTROLL or even the relentlessly daft KORPIKLAANI, but there was always more to the folk metal formula than its more cartoonish exponents alluded to. Firmly at the heart of the genre's creative maelstrom since 2002, ELUVEITIE have dared to dream of a more expansive and adventurous form of folk metal, and the Swiss band's steady rise to prominence suggests that a lot of people share in that artistic reverie.

It is almost certainly coincidental that CELLAR DARLING, three former members of ELUVEITIE, have themselves released a monumentally great album in 2019. "Ategnatos" is plainly not a response to that, but it says a lot about this band's inspirational qualities that we now have two bands from the same inspirational wellspring hitting peak form at the same time. On first listen, ELUVEITIE's eighth studio album is very obviously their most absorbing and rounded effort: the melodies leap from the speakers, the arrangements sparkle with imagination and vitality and, most importantly, the melodic death metal spine that has always set the band apart from their peers is more robust and unbending than ever. Both the opening title track and the fiddle-driven "Deathwalker" point to a sharpening of songwriting blades. In the latter, there's a confidence and looseness in the ensemble's delivery that is genuinely startling and not a little joyous. And it's that celebratory vibe that persists throughout these 60 vibrant minutes. With numerous riffs and grooves nodding pointedly back to the straight-ahead clatter of ELUVEITIE's first two albums, cynics might suggest that the band are simply delivering the goods with a bigger budget, but such has been the evolution of their overall sonic approach that even the most brutish moments on "Ategnatos" feel fuller, darker and more meticulously realized than before. "A Cry in the Wilderness" is a case in point. Erupting in full-on Gothenburg mode, it's a strident, melodic headbanger, but one with countless subtle embellishments that bring the whole thing vividly to life. At this point, ELUVEITIE have much more in common with AMORPHIS than anything more frivolous, and in the likes of "The Slumber" and "Breathe" they have self-evidently sidled into the progressive metal realm here too. Best of the lot are "Worship" and "Rebirth", two theatrical but murderous slices of otherworldly dark metal, replete with pitiless blast beats, orchestral flourishes—further proof that the accordion is a genuinely sinister instrument—and commanding performances from vocalists Chrigel Glanzmann and Fabienne Erni.

Production-wise, "Ategnatos" is big and bold but much more organic and live sounding than ELUVEITIE's most recent works. A demonstration of maturity rather than a leap into the unknown, this is full of everything that fans have come to love and expect from the band, but the folk metal tag is nowhere near broad enough to contain an album as intrinsically wide-eyed and widescreen as this.

Author: Dom Lawson
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • reddit
  • email

Comments Disclaimer And Information

BLABBERMOUTH.NET uses the Facebook Comments plugin to let people comment on content on the site using their Facebook account. The comments reside on Facebook servers and are not stored on BLABBERMOUTH.NET. To comment on a BLABBERMOUTH.NET story or review, you must be logged in to an active personal account on Facebook. Once you're logged in, you will be able to comment. User comments or postings do not reflect the viewpoint of BLABBERMOUTH.NET and BLABBERMOUTH.NET does not endorse, or guarantee the accuracy of, any user comment. To report spam or any abusive, obscene, defamatory, racist, homophobic or threatening comments, or anything that may violate any applicable laws, use the "Report to Facebook" and "Mark as spam" links that appear next to the comments themselves. To do so, click the downward arrow on the top-right corner of the Facebook comment (the arrow is invisible until you roll over it) and select the appropriate action. You can also send an e-mail to blabbermouthinbox(@)gmail.com with pertinent details. BLABBERMOUTH.NET reserves the right to "hide" comments that may be considered offensive, illegal or inappropriate and to "ban" users that violate the site's Terms Of Service. Hidden comments will still appear to the user and to the user's Facebook friends. If a new comment is published from a "banned" user or contains a blacklisted word, this comment will automatically have limited visibility (the "banned" user's comments will only be visible to the user and the user's Facebook friends).