Friday, 29 July 2011

Celtachor - In The Halls of Our Ancient Fathers [2010]

1. Nemed's Wake
2. Rise of Lugh
3. In the Halls of Nuada
4. A Warning to Balor
5. Riders of the Fomor
6. The Sons of Tuireann and the Blood Fine
7. The Wavesweeper

Celtachor have been a rising star and dominating force in Ireland's underground metal scene. Blending black metal with Irish flute medleys, Celtachor have created their own unique take on Irish myth, folklore and history.

The eerie and grim sounds of "Nemed's Wake" begin the demo, combined with a tribal-styled drum beat and haunting choir vocals. The orchestration that follows is epic and grand, whilst being a mood lifter at the same time. The second track, "Rise Of Lugh", starts with a slow-paced but heavy guitar riff that increases in tempo when the vocals burst in. The drums are savagely played and the Irish flute medleys speak to the soul in a hypnotic and enchanting manner. The vocals are raw and aggressive, sort of like the black metal version of a banshee's scream. The flute-only break in the second half of the track is just genius. The song comes to an epic end.

"In The Halls of Nuada" begins with a wonderful and melodic flute riff. The guitars sneak their way onto the track before making a loud and thunderous roar alongside the drums and vocals. The song certainly favours raw and brutal aggression over the Celtic medleys in the two previous tracks - though there is nothing wrong with this, unless you prefer flutes over guitars. Halfway through the demo comes "A Warning To Balor" which begins with a classic rock styled intro in terms of drums and guitars, though the vocals have that raw, angry style to them. This track contains no flute medleys, favouring a driving metal style over a Celtic feel. "A Warning To Balor" stays very classic rock sound throughout its entirety, which is interesting considering how well the music blends with the vocals.

The intro "Rider's Of The Fomor" is very bass dominated, though the guitars do make an appearance eventually. The flute makes its sagaic return to this track as well, giving it a very mythic and epic feel. The song is certainly one of the more aggressive songs on the demo. The second to last song "The Sons of Turieann and the Blood Fine" has a slow, solemn Celtic sound to begin with which is soon replaced by the raw and feral guitars and drum work. The vocals seem more hateful, violent and bloodthirsty as well - Which is a brilliant thing as it makes the track that much more brutal. Some of the riffs are slightly melodic which is a good addition.

The demo ends with "The Wavesweeper". The intro is slow but heavy, building up a very tense atmosphere. As the track progresses, it gets heavier and more vicious. The vocals, still raw and bloodthirsty, add a new dynamic to the track, making it more enjoyable to listen to. The use of somewhat melodic riffs makes up for the lack of flutes medleys on the track. Overall, there isn't a fault with the track at all - Unless you count the lack of flutes.

If Celtachor were around in the pre-Christian days of Ireland, they would have no doubt have been bards amongst the Irish tribes as "In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers" is a monumental demo and a brilliant way to tell the tales of the days gone by in Ireland. Celtachor clearly have got what it takes to be a force to be reckoned with on the international extreme metal scene.


Nico Davidson

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Northsong - Winter's Dominion

  1. Prelude
  2. Mountains Of Madness
  3. Heathen War
  4. Desperation
  5. Winter's Dominion
  6. Let Death Be Our Pride (Windrider Cover)
"Northsong" is the solo project of American folk metal musician Cortland Runyon. The debut release "Winter's Dominion" was released earlier this year for free download, consisting of five original tracks and a cover of a WINDRIDER song.

The opening track, entitled "Prelude", starts with the sound of wind, followed by the rhythmic banging of drums, epic orchestration and strong guitar riffs. The orchestration helps give the song a very grand, majestic and noble sound whilst keeping it solemn at the same time. "Mountains Of Madness" continues from where "Prelude" finished, keeping a consistent flow. The guitar work is acute and somewhat melodic, whilst the drums are precise to the beat and the vocals are feral, demonic and full of rage. The keyboard sections are reminiscent of the Gladiator soundtrack.

"Heathen War" starts more angrily and aggressive than the last two songs. The vocals seem more hateful and bloodthirsty as well, mixing well with the barbaric ferocity of the guitars and drums. The keyboard riffs blend in awesomely with the rest of the song, bringing a whole new dynamic to both the track and the EP. The symphonic interlude halfway through is grand and sagaic, sounding slightly classically influenced in terms of its composition. The track does turn turn violent again towards the end before becoming orchestrated again. "Desperation" has a very Amon Amarth feel to the intro riff. the keyboard sections stand out the most on this track however, as do some of the guitar riffs. The vocals in some parts seem quite distorted, as well as being almost overpowered by the guitars.

Nearing the end comes the title track "Winter's Dominion". It begins very orchestrated, creating a dignified and immense atmosphere and sound. The guitars and drum work help add to the atmosphere later on in the track, though the orchestration seems to be the most interesting and entertaining aspect of the track. Disappointingly, there are no vocals, which is unfortunate for those who enjoy harsh, death metal grunts and growls. The track finishes the same way that "Prelude" begun, with the sound of wind. The EP is finished with the cover of Windrider's "Let Death Be Our Pride". It eerily sounds exactly like the original, except for the vocals. Northsong has certainly done a good job at the cover, staying true to the original though the only downside to it is that it doesn't seem to have a Northsong element to it as such.

"Winter's Dominion" is an interesting EP. It shows clear signs of different musical influences on its composition whilst keeping its own sound at the same time. Judging by this EP, Northsong could possibly be the next Skyclad. So, sit back with a jug of mead and enjoy this masterpiece.


Nico Davidson

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