Saturday, March 17, 2012

Review: Celtachor - In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers (2010)

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In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers

Celtachor - In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers
Emerging from the mists of Ireland, bands like Cruachan, Primordial, and Waylander awakened a style of music that blended the ferocity of black metal with the myths, legends, and melodies of the ancient Celts. Through this dialect of folk metal, Ireland's proud history has been shared the world over with music fans that might otherwise never have known the magic and mystery of the Emerald Isle's birth. Reinforcing those trailblazing bands is a new corps of Irish metallers, of which Dublin's Celtachor may well be the standard bearer. In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers, although a rough produced demo, places the band in line with the innovators of the style and strongly hints at greater things yet to come.

While the demo is certainly a measure of Celtachor's potential, it shouldn't be overlooked as nothing more than that. Fans of the Celtic style, particularly those with an intense interest in Irish mythology, will find plenty about In The Halls... to make it a worthwhile acquisition. Mainman Stephen Roche sings in a gruff, raspy style that is fairly typical for the genre but nevertheless enunciates the lyrics quite clearly. Having the ability to decipher the words to the stories, as they're retold by Roche, helps open the door for the listener to most appreciate the glory (and tragedy) of the mythology.

Aside from snarling out tales of Lugh's rise and Cian's murder, Roche infuses the album with touches of majestic atmospheres and wistful Irish melodies. He accomplishes the former through just a hint of keyboard intrusion, most notably on album intro "Nemed's Wake" but also to a lesser extent on "Riders Of The Fomor" and standout track "The Sons Of Tuireann And The Blood Fine". "Nemed's Wake" aside, Roche's keys float just beneath the surface of the mix so that they provide an adequate of a sense of foreboding without distracting from the primary instruments. His whistle, on the other hand, stands front and center when present and provides the only distinctly Irish aspect of the music. Being a part of four of the songs, the whistle is nevertheless a welcome compliment to the caustic guitar tone and crashing beats that dominate In The Halls.... Yet, Roche's whistle is also responsible for one of the album's deficiencies. While pleasant in and of themselves, the whistle melodies are most often not well-timed with the underlying instrumentation. The exception to this comes on album highlight "The Sons Of Tuireann...", where Celtachor is firing on all cylinders and the whistle blends seamlessly with the keys and buzzing riffs.

The overly raw production of In The Halls... sometimes renders the quality of the riffs difficult to discern, but six-stringer David Quinn's ability usually punches through with a groovy traditional metal style. Tremolo assaults are rare, confined mostly to "Riders Of The Fomor" and points within "The Sons Of Tuireann...", giving the rest of the album a chance to ensnare fans who prefer more of a NWOBHM touch to the riffs. Emile Quigley adds his bass to Quinn's efforts on "The Wavesweeper", weighing down the chunky guitar tone and darkening the mood. That particular track, and coincidentally the album as a whole, ends with a nicely upbeat groove and a very clear bit of bass slapping.

In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers, despite being very rough around the edges, is an exciting addition to the Celtic folk metal sub-genre. With it, Celtachor shows considerable promise and the potential to carry the flag of the next generation of Irish folk metal bands.

Track Listing
1Nemed's Wake2:26
2Rise Of Lugh5:55
3In The Halls Of Nuada5:08
4A Warning To Balor3:51
5Riders Of The Fomor5:48
6The Sons Of Tuireann And The Blood Fine6:28
7The Wavesweeper6:41
Total Runtime36:17

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