So what's this - a second album from Eluveitie within the same year? Delve further into Celtic Folk Metal, past Viking Metal and you will find Pagan Metal, with this year seeing the band's 10th anniversary. With it, the band bring gifts of their latest studio effort, 'Helvetios', released earlier in the year (February 10th read the review here) and the soon to be released 'The Early Years', a two in one!
As the album title suggests, this compiles material from the band's early history featuring a modern re-recording of the entire rare first EP, 'Vên', and a remastered version of the band's debut, 'Spirit'.
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So let's start at the beginning. The six tracks of 'Vên' have been re-recorded to get a new dimension with the 2012 line-up, without losing any of the original and historical value. Unfortunately I'm unable to compare to the original material, which originally sold out within six months back in 2003, so I have to try and imagine what I might have thought hearing this back then.
After the fall out of Nu-Metal and the rise of Metalcore, how would Pagan Metal have faired? Well I do remember around that time Turisas emerging but not quite taking the world by storm, but personally I enjoyed it. So it's fair to say the Swiss may have made a small impression had they ventured past Gaul and Brittany.
'Verja Urit An Bitus' acts as an introduction leading to 'Uis Elveti', starting with a bit of rain, accordion and pipes swiftly kicking into chugs in a 3/4 beat.
Now I love a good chug; this one is quite a smooth chug rather than typically heavy or fast but is made so groovy with the time signature, until the accordion solo that is, picking up some pace and into 4/4. A quick acoustic breakdown and back into the main rhythm of the song... definitely give this track a listen with headphones as the panning is awesome.
'Oro' acts as an interlude between tracks, 'Lament' is a more heavy track with the Heavy Metal fiddle doing well to keep up and featuring a snippet of Black Metal towards the end. 'Druid' then starts in Black Metal mode before a complete 180 into folk acoustic and switching back again; what fun!
It even features a big sing along chorus with some death Meal stylings and a heavy breakdown. Finally, 'Jezaig', is a slow ending and pretty much an instrumental. On the original release I think it would have sit better as track five but as this version stands, it acts as a good barrier between sections.
Part Two: 'Spirit'
The first (title) track again acts as an introduction and again into 'Uis Elveti', which I guess is technically v2.5, (with the former being v3). I don't mind the same track being on the album twice, it's a pretty awesome track and it stands as an example to prove the differences from the early line-up to the modern.
Musically they pretty much can't be told apart but vocally the older version sounds a little dull and the modern version is much more vibrant, the female vocals in particular sounding far better.
'Your Gaulish War' displays band leader Chrigel Glanzmann's influence of melodic Death Metal whilst 'Of Fire Wind And Wisdom' briefly kicks off with death Metal then into a more heavy rock folk and you start to see at this point that where folk Metal can get pretty repetitive. Eluveitie manage to avoid this monotony by fusing elements of other styles. 'Aidu' even starts off with arabesque singing! Although at three minutes long it comes across as an acoustic interlude.
The rest of the album continues with these styles and influences, apart from 'Siraxta'. A massive change in style and tone, more like some kind of Mediterranean rock band!
'The Endless Knot' manages to fit in a bit of everything and easily done at a whopping seven minutes long, leaving the acoustic conclusion, 'An Dro'.
So for Eluveitie fans then there's no doubt that you should get this album and those who are fond of folk Metal but get easily bored, this could be the band for you!