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Celtachor | ‘Fiannaíocht’

One thing Celtachor have never been short of is ambition.

With every single release they’ve grown the scale of their sound.

So it should be no surprise that ‘Fiannaíocht’ continues the trend. It’s bigger, farther reaching and certainly more polished than even the excellent ‘Nuada’.

Yet it does see the band taking a notably different approach, in as much as its an album with a decidedly furrowed brow.

The winsome celtic flute and guitar that opens it all sets that melancholic, pastoral tone. It’s the biting speed that comes out of nowhere though that’s more impressive: almost Arkona-like in its whip.

So ‘Sons Of Morna’ opens it all with a bang. I like that the vocals have taken a harsher bent here, as well as that bridge riff being very, very unorthadox for a band like Celtachor (if anything I was reminded of the liminal guitar atmospherics of Corr Mhona).

The tum-tee-tum narration on ‘King Of Tara’ gives a bit of a Cruachan feel to it – you just beg for them to jump out of that narrative swing – and indeed they do with some more welcome speed. Top marks.

Being totally honest I’m not sure that the electric violin in ‘Tuiren’ works – there’s just something odd about the note it hits – and yet it’s strangely satisfying in its oddity.

That build though. Wow. If it isn’t clear by now, Anais’ drumming really is the propellant behind the Celtachor sound, as this track surges forward. It’s easily the album’s best.

There’s something absolutely hyperboreal about it all, and for all the celtcism of it, there are moments that it sounds far, far more high Northern European than anything from our shores.

I guess thats down to a lot of the influences they’ve been absorbing on their new label and on the road.

‘The Search For Sadbh’, an acoustic crooner, is dull and passes by unremarkably, but its only a brief lull – and, I suppose, the same could be said with what feels like a slightly time wasting instrumental in ‘Great Ships Came From Over The Waves’.

As the album moves to a close through the back end tracks, some unorthodox guitar melodies help it all out, while the strange choices of note on the electric violin also weave an atmosphere far from the celtic metal norm.

The harmonized licks at the end of ‘The Battle On The Shore’ scream Abigor – I wish there was more of them throughout the album.

I like that they’re taking alternative paths through whats obviously a well hackneyed genre at this point, and there is no doubt that this album shows a sound all of their own within that.

To a certain extent I’m almost too tired of celtic metal to care about it at this point; but Celtachor do so well here in injecting difference and an identity of their own that they really do force attention.

And it’s hard to give a bigger credit than that, no matter what genre.

Dark, unorthadox and plaintive, it’s a more than credible atmospheric pagan / celtic banger that offers many musical depths to savour, when you’re in the right mood.

During the summer party heatwave of 2018, perhaps less so – but I’ll certainly be dragging this one out come the autumn.

3.9 / 5 – Earl Grey ::: 01/07/18

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