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'Songs From The Earth'
(Scarlet Records)
Release Date: 16th February 2015

steve goldby

furor gallico

I had a terrible, terrible nightmare the other day. It was truly terrifying as a big black shape was standing before me; a figure in black pointing at me and I wanted to turn round quick and start to run.

It all began as my slumber transported me to a far off land, a land inhabited by elves, goblins and gnomes and where spontaneous Morris dancing would break out and people would argue in a strange dialect over which verses of 'Sir Gawain's Lament' should be sung unaccompanied while drinking tankards of cider with twigs floating in them.

That wasn't the scary bit - that bit was reasonably OK. The scary bit was when the big black shape appeared and shook me from the depths of my slumber and stared at me with his piercing eyes and threw back his long black hair, held aloft the hammer of Thor and spoke with a voice of thunder.

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"Mr Göldby - I hear you have strayed from the path of True Heavy Metal...", boomed the voice. Bloody Hell! It was Joey DeMaio from Manowar and he was pissed off, like very pissed off. Now I was in real trouble...

"No, no Joey, I haven't..." I whimpered but it was too late as I noticed his eyes turning to fire as he stared at my green Arran jumper folded neatly on the chair nearby.

He raised the hammer of Thor higher and just as he was about to strike the first mighty blow, I jumped out of bed, reached out for my lute with four rusty strings and started waving it frantically at him in a pathetic attempt to fend him off.

Luckily, this made him erupt into fits of laughter and he lost the moment and disappeared back to Valhalla and all was peaceful again.

I awoke with a start in a cold sweat and realised it had all been a terrible dream brought about by the ridicule I have suffered this last few months at the hands of my MetalTalk colleagues who since I have got seriously into the phenomenon called Folk Metal have taken to telling jokes about me involving wearing bells and walking around the office saying "With a hey nonny-nonny", something I categorically deny. Mostly.

To me Folk Metal demonstrates the versatilty of our music; the fact that we are not restricted to guitar, bass and drums. You can use any instruments you like in Folk Metal and the more obscure the better and the more members you have in the band the better too.

Furor Gallico have eight members, which is about average for a modern Folk Metal outfit and they have ten different instruments listed, the most obscure being Celtic harp and bouzouki. Apparently the bouzouki is a long-necked lute developed in Greece from Turkish roots and originally six stringed.

What makes this band different is the use of multi-vocalists and different languages. They utilize growling, screaming and clear vocals combined with sounds of the harp, whistles, violin and bouzouki and there are no two songs the same on 'Songs From The Earth'.

Opener 'The Song Of The Earth' is a fast paced romp with whistles-a-whistling, violins-a-fiddling and a gruff black/death Metal lyric over the top that leaves you breathless in a joyous way which is ironic because next up is 'Nemàin's Breath', a song that appears driven by bagpipes, giving it a distinctly Scottish feel. The bagpipe player must be one of the very special guests mentioned but not listed in the press notes.

There's definite similarities between main vocalist Pagan's singing style and that of Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie and this is most evident on 'Wild Jig Of Beltaine', a song where the Celtic harp is most prominent, set against a really great guitar riff that conjures up memories of Gary Moore's heavy Celtic days.

'La Notte Dei Cento Fuochi', which translates to 'Night Of The Hundred Fires', continues with the fast pace we are now used to and has a very serious growly vocal refrain midway through, like the sound of the big black shape on the first Black Sabbath album but I don't want to talk about that any more.

Let's have some nice violins instead (sorry Joey). 'Diluvio', which means 'flood' is a gentle track with a haunting violin throughout and finishing off with a really great electric guitar solo and a Romany-esque singalong. This is great stuff!

'Squass' has an interesting tale behind it. Apparently in Italian folk tradition, in the town of Clusone there was a small elf type creature called Squass who sat on wooden trunks on the side of the road wood and would laugh at the drunkards who would return home from the market place on Monday nights. Our Head Of Album Reviews was probably one of them.

The riff on this track makes it one of the standout tracks of the whole album and it wouldn't be out of place on a Koorpiklaani album with a different vocal. It's a romp, a stomp and a jig and a hoot and it's getting played loudly in the office tomorrow whether the heathens like it or not.

They'd probably enjoy next track, 'Steam Over The Mountain', more as it's pretty Metal with a storming riff and cracking drum beat throughout. There's a couple of surprises in this track which I will not spoil for you.

The album ends with 'To The End' which contains a brilliant dual vocal which shows how death Metal and female folk voices can live in unity while 'Eremita' (hermit in Italian) has a melancholic but triumphant air to it.

'Songs From The Earth' works on many levels and is a seriously enjoyable listen. I hope I can catch the band live this year to see if they can reproduce it all on stage because that would be something to behold.

There appears to be no literal translation for 'Furor Gallico' but it is the description that the ancient Romans had given the state of blood lust that the Celtic Warriors possessed, i.e always ready to attack in battle to defend their people and their land. The band claim that they are the bards who live to pass on the legends of the now lost Celtic worlds but this may possibly not be completely true.

What is true is that this band could well make waves in the Metal scene with this release and they've already been added to the line-up of the Cernunnos Festival in Paris, France, with Moonsorrow and many others. Other prominent gigs should follow.

'Songs From The Earth' was recorded at Metropolis Studio in Milan, Italy, mixed and mastered by Alex Azzali at Alpha Omega Studio (Behemoth, Carcass) and the cover artwork is by Kris Verwimp (Absu, Arch Enemy, Marduk).

So there you go. Death to false folk music and with a nickety, nackety, noo, noo, noo, it's a hey, nonny, nonny.

Did I really just say that? No, of course I didn't, if Mr DeMaio enquires...

The Song Of The Earth
Nemàin's Breath
Wild Jig Of Beltaine
La Notte Dei Cento Fuochi
Steam Over The Mountain
To The End

Furor Gallico are:
Davide Cicalese (Pagan) - Vocals
Stefano Centineo (Ste) - Guitar, Backing Vocals
Oldhan - Guitar
Fabio - Bass
Simone Sgarella (Simo) - Drums
Laura Brancorsini (Laura) - Violin
Elisabetta Rossi (Becky) - Celtic Harp
Paolo - Tin/Low Whistle, Bouzouki


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