Has it really been three years since the last ELUVEITIE album? Time certainly flies at points, and given that the outfit (currently at nine members) seem to have been constantly on the road since 2014’s Origins was released, it’s impossible to fathom when they’ve been able to get into a studio and record even one new song, let alone the eighteen present here. But record they have, and on Friday Evocation II: Pantheon sees the light of day, their seventh album and the follow up to 2009’s Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion.
Like its predecessor, Evocation II: Pantheon is not sung in English; rather, it is in the extinct language of Gaulish, spoken by the Celtic inhabitants of the ancient country of Gaul (today comprising of France, Belgium and Northern Italy). But whilst Gaul is usually associated today with the immensely popular Asterix comic books, you won’t find songs about magic potions and beating up Roman soldiers here. Instead, we get the stories of the ancient Gods worshipped, whose names comprise the song titles. The first thing that’s very noticeable is that this is incredibly mellow compared to the last few records: you won’t find an electric guitar anywhere on the album.
Instead, ELUVEITIE have very much embraced the folk side of their sound, with acoustic guitars, flutes and violins in abundance and giving a sense that you’ve suddenly fallen into Middle Earth post-Sauron. Cleverly, the drums are used to provide a smattering of darker moments though – Tovtatis is rumbling and foreboding, packing a lot into its 65 seconds of music whilst Catvrix, named after the God of War of the Helvetii (ancient Switzerland), is also much darker in tone and sees main frontman Chrigel Glanzmann bring his trademark snarl to the foreground. Interestingly, this is one of the few occasions that he actually provides any vocals at all; the vast majority are handled by new member Fabienne Erni, replacing long-time vocalist Anna Murphy, and it’ fair to say the latter isn’t missed. Erni has a brilliant voice on her, belting through songs like Artio and the Inis Mona-inspired Ogmios with ease and authority.
What’s also apparent is that a number of the tracks mirror the gods they’re named after. Epona, after the goddess of horses, has a very distinct galloping rhythm and even an air of a Western whistle; the penultimate number, Taranis, is frantic and fast like the god of thunder himself, whilst Belenos is a gentle, soothing instrumental that incorporates the crackle of a fire, reflecting the God of light and healing so oft likened to Apollo. Talking of instrumentals, there’s no less than six of them on here, which does seem a bit much at times, especially if you’re not used to this side of ELUVEITIE; one of them, Antvmnos, does a great job at mimicking SIMON AND GARFUNKEL‘s Scarborough Fair as well…too well.
In any event, this is a curious release for ELUVEITIE, but it’s definitely nice to see them explore their softer side and there are certainly some strong moments here. It’s not a metal record especially, but it’s got enough to keep fans satisfied for now.
Evocation II: Pantheon is set for release on August 18th via Nuclear Blast Records.
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