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Cruachan | ‘Folklore’


Although I am a relative newcomer to Cruachan, I have slipped into an appreciation of their style very quickly as my review of their recent single may have shown.

It would surpirise an awful lot of people to know how big this band actually is outside of their home town, a bit like Jesus really. Lined up for the summer they are playing no less than Russia and Asia! How many irish musical exports can say that? They also sit very high in the Hammerheart ascendancy, enjoying some of the labels best sales. And with good reason.

So varied is this cd that in truth “Metal” might be the wrong description. Of course Metal does get a hefty look in, but maybe not to the extent of their previous albums, and they are aiming at a new more general breed of fan.

From the off it is obvious that this cd is just huge, and somehow sounds even longer than its 45minutes. I mentioned variety, and with the amount of genuine Irish instrumentation utilised in the compositions there is no shortage of explorations available to the listener.

Indeed Cruachan have easily equalled Nile in giving their music cultural significance, with explanations of the songs even included in the booklet. But above all, this authenticity is evocative and atmospheric – none more so than on the Shane McGowan led “Spancill Hill”.

This track, midway through the album serves as a reflective and sad pause from the more bouyant surrounding material. From the simple reciting of an old poem, it gradually crescendos into a doom dirge that is inherently and undeniably celtic and tinged with utter misery.

Other tracks are instantly recognisable as Cruachan – the staccato vocal and jig of “The Children of Lir”, the traditional and upbeat “Rocky Road to Dublin”, and the bona fide anthem that comes in the form of their take on “Ride On”, reviewed elsewhere.

While the rock is all present and correct, the thing that impresses me most about “Folklore” is its atmosphere. Not once on this cd do I even sniff contrivance, because this is the genuine article. From simple tools, that truth be told do sometimes sound primitive, Cruachan have imbued almost every track on this cd with an inherent misery, a sadness…. like the feeling of old memories returning to weigh heavy on the listeners shoulders.

A single tear, if you will. Tracks like “Susie Moran” just use the standard celtic musical vocabulary to deliver more than what should be the sum of its parts, ultimately proving addictive. Closer “Exiles” is a welcome return to power and brutal vocals, and yet once again the bodhrán,tin whistles and even what sounds like a harpsichord conspire to create some of the best atmospherics going in the underground.

Essential.

4.5 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 3/2/02


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