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Cruachan
Blood on the Black Robe

Company: Candlelight Records
Release: 2011
Genre: Blackened folk
Reviewer: Ravana

  • Their strongest release in quite some time



  • "Blood on the Black Robe" marks Cruachan's sixth full-length studio release; it also marks a new chapter for the band, as it is their first album in some time without female vocalist Karen Gilligan (you'll have to go back to their 1995 debut Tuatha Na Gael). Band leader/guitarist/vocalist Keith Fay handles the bulk of the vocals, with a session female vocalist popping up here and there; his harsh, blackened style combined with a slight shift in musical direction make "Robe" Cruachan's most extreme record since their debut. It's also their strongest release in quite some time.

    Consistent with Gilligan's departure, Cruachan shy away from the softer folkier, sing-along segments that dominated portions of The Middle Kingdom, Folk-Lore, Pagan, and The Morrigan's Call. While the former albums successfully juxtaposed heavier, more black metal-oriented songs and segments with folk melodies and interludes, they rarely blended the two; they would, instead, stand side-by-side in a formula that was unconventional but for the most part worked. The latter two attempted a blend, and this approach did not always work for Cruachan. Now, with Gilligan gone and male harsh vocals dominating Cruachan's sound, they were pushed to write an album that can truly be called a folk/black hybrid, with violins, flutes, and pipes establishing a backing atmosphere to Fay's unrelenting riffing.

    The album's strongest points come when, during songs such as "Thy Kingdom Gone," Fay and his rhythm section establish a solid extreme metal foundation which is then embellished by a folkier melody that comes in during the song's chorus courtesy of fiddle, flute, or traditional strings (such as a mandolin or bouzouki). "Primeval Odium" is another excellent example of this approach. Fay's powerful vocals are quite haunting here and are only upstaged by the eerie violin, which hangs around in the background before coming to the forefront for an outro. The reverse is also true: the first several minutes of "An Bean Sidhe" are soft and feature some truly beautiful female vocals. Then, around the two-and-a-half minute mark, Fay's voice and guitar come in and transform the track into an epic blackened folk anthem.

    Overall, there is not a single bad or lacking track on this album. Cruachan fans who have perhaps been disappointed with the band's recent releases: do not let the memory of "The Morrigan's Call" and "Pagan" cloud your judgement and purchase "Blood on the Black Robe"! In fact, anyone who is remotely into folk or extreme metal should give it a shot; it is likely that there will be much here for you to enjoy.


    Maximum Metal Rating Legend - Click for Full Details
    5 Excellent - Buy it and say a prayer to the metal gods that you were tuned on to this masterpiece. A classic.
    4-4.5 Great - Almost perfect records but there's probably a clunker or a lacking somewhere to keep it from perfection. You won't feel bad about dropping some bones on these.
    3.5 Good - Most of the record is good, but there may be some filler. This is the OK range where you'd search for the record on sale or used.
    3 Average - Some good songs, some bad ones at about a half/half ratio. Could show skills but be dull overall. Redeeming qualities for indy bands are effort and passion. Majors that don't try or suck outright end up here.
    2-2.5 Fair - Worth a listen, but best obtained by collectors. There is much better metal out there.
    1-1.5 Bad - Major problems with music, lyrics, production, etc.
    0 Terrible or an otherwise waste of your life and time.

    Note: Reviews are graded from 0-5, anything higher or not showing is from our old style. Scores, however, do not reveal the important features. The written review that accompanies the ratings is the best source of information regarding the music on our site. Reviewing is opinionated, not a qualitative science, so scores are personal to the reviewer and could reflect anything from being technically brilliant to gloriously cheesy fun.

    Demos and independent releases get some slack since the bands are often spent broke supporting themselves and trying to improve. Major releases usually have big financial backing, so they may be judged by a heavier hand. All scores can be eventually adjusted up or down by comparison of subsequent releases by the same band. We attempt to keep biases out of reviews and be advocates of the consumer without the undo influence of any band, label, management, promoter, etc.

    The best way to determine how much you may like certain music is to listen to it yourself.



    ALL FULL REVIEWS FOR: CRUACHAN
    CD
    TITLE BAND
    DOR
    REVIEWER DATE
    Blood on the Black RobeCruachan
    2011
    Ravana5/13/2011
    The Morrigan's CallCruachan
    2007
    Etiam9/28/2007


    ALL SUMMARY REVIEWS FOR: CRUACHAN

    No Summary reviews currently exist for them.


    ALL INTERVIEWS FOR: CRUACHAN
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