3/27/2009 - Review by: Raising Iron
Suidakra return with their 9th studio effort, Croghacht (meaning--bravery), and continue their tradition of high-caliber releases melding all of sorts of styles into their folk-infused premise. Now in SPV's highly regarded stable of acts, maybe they'll get some much needed notice for their years of tireless song craft.
For this outing we get another concept album, this time based on old Irish mythology. Certainly, the music these guys create has lent itself well to the idea of creating concept albums (see 2002's Emprise to Avalon), and though many now find the idea tiresome and overused, when done correctly and with conviction, it's still very enjoyable.
The album opens with a near two minute instrumental, "Slan", which uses bagpipes to build into the first song proper, "Conlaoch". This is a hell of a speedy track, charging at full gallop, melody strong and to the fore with founder/singer/guitarist Arkadius using his vocal style to maximum effect. He is, incidentally, the full time singer now as his former, longtime band mate and clean vocal singer/guitarist Marcel Schoenen has left the group. Next up is the epic "Isle of Skye", the second longest track and pure sonic bliss, destined to become a live staple. Once more, various tempos, all at high speed, are of the essence, with a slowed down movement into a choral bridge section that is signature Suidakra. "Scathach" follows, bagpipes reappearing at the onset, establishing its insistent melody, then giving way to more blackened guitar progressions followed by the chant-styled singing, again, another mark of Suidakra's signature sound. Things then delve directly into traditional acoustic folk flairs with the song "Feats of War", sung by guest vocalist Tina Stabel; an infectious melody to be sure. "Shattering Swords" continues with the same acoustic melody, but quickly changes to more of the fast-paced guitar structures which are the overtly prevalent style to be found here, and is another song likely to make its way to the stage. "Ar Nasc Fola" is an acoustic instrumental that follows, traditional melodies again carrying the listener to other worlds in other times. "Gilded Oars" is the second to last track, punctuated by the folk-styled chanting come the middle of the song that is another trademark of these troubadours. The album concludes its short 41 minute journey with another epic called "Baile's Strand", covering a lot of ground stylistically speaking, and the traditional folk melodies continue to palpitate vibrantly.
One can say that for a genre that is seeing a huge insurgence of bands due to its rising popularity – that being folk/pagan/viking metal (or some variation thereof) – there seems to be no lack of creativity, and it's yet to become stale. These Germans have been doing this as long as or longer than most, and better than many, so here's hoping they can finally get some wider recognition for their ever excellent and expanding repertoire.
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