Nuclear Blast Records
Melodic Death/Folk Metal
Eluveitie was one of the first bands that got me hooked onto the melodic death metal style of folk metal, with Slania being the first album that I listened to. Unfortunately, over the years as the band’s style of music evolved, my interest in the band dipped similarly. While the acoustic folk-rock album Evocation I was still bearable and unique in itself, their return to extreme metal grounds with 2010’s Everything Remains as it Never Was was a disappointing album, sounding like an uninspired, watered-down melodic death metal album.
This year marks the release of the band’s follow up to Everything Remains as it Never Was with Helvetios, and out of nostalgia’s sake I decided to have a listen to the album. The epic and heroic feel that the band has always incorporated in their music is still present, first with the dramatic spoken introductory track, Prologue, sounding like the narrating of the opening chapter of the album and this definitely helps in building the anticipation for the journey that is to come. As title track Helvetios begins, the familiar folk instrumentations and arrangements immediately greet the listener, building the tension in the air. First listens certainly sound good, and there is the potential that the band has returned to their original form or even better, with the smooth progression of the tracks, and the perfect fusion of brutality through the gruff, death vocals and the melodies that the folk instruments provide.
Some of the most charming moments on the album are the heavy usage of folk elements compared to the previous release, and this is certainly a welcome move considering this was what made Eluveitie such an enjoyable band personally in the first place. The usage of the female vocals also add a nice dynamic and contrast to the gruff lead vocals, and the singing style gives a somewhat tribal feel to the music as well, instantly transporting the listener into the middle of a battlefield, and it is these folk elements that help to make the music catchy and keep the listener constantly interested.
Unfortunately, the band falls in terms of the metal instrumentations. The downtuned guitar, the beefy tone of the guitars and the chugging style that the band constantly utilises throughout the album may sound refreshing and suitably aggressive at first, but as the album drags on it almost starts to sound somewhat nu-metallish, and this particular so if one imagines the songs on the album without the folk instruments, especially on tracks like Helvetios. In fact, removing the folk instrumentations on the album, Helvetios would probably come across as yet another of those uninspired melodic death metal records, with the flat-sounding guitars and the boring riffs that are filled almost solely with power chords and little innovation attempted.
As already mentioned, the saving grace of Helvetios are the brilliant folk and acoustic arrangements that are present on the album. While I am all for bands attempting progress in their musical styles, in such an instance it would have been nice to see the band revert back to the style they had created on albums like Slania and Spirit instead. That said though, this album is still an improvement over the band’s previous output, Everything Remains as it Never Was and is perhaps a step in the right direction for Eluveitie once more.