Guest Review: Eluveitie – Everything Remains as it Never Was

Eluveitie - Everything Remains as it Never WasWhat once started off as what many believed to be a fad–dressing up in armor, singing of the days of your ancestors and incorporating obscure instruments alongside death growls and blast beats–has recently proven that it’s here to stay. Folk metal now has two annual tours, Paganfest and Heathenfest, along with the innumerable horde of fans growing at every show.

And leading the pack of what they call the ‘new wave of folk metal’ is Swiss octet Eluveitie (pronounced El-Whitey). Making just a ripple in the metallic waters with their first two efforts, 2008’s Slania and a tour alongside fan favorites Ensiferum, established their credibility as one of the most talented bands in the genre.

Crushing MeloDeath riffs reminiscent of the old-school Gothenburg days hold the foundations for the melodious tones of the band’s traditional instruments which are more distinct than ever in Everything Remains. The pieces themselves for the most part are wondrous–I can’t imagine how much work goes into constructing a track that contains at least 8 different instrument voicings–and no doubt jaw-dropping to those unfamiliar with the band. Their Gaulish subtext is an odd choice, but every folk metal band needs a unique identity. They know exactly what folk metal fans are looking for: melodic heaviness that gets stuck in your head and is as complex as it is danceable.

And while the tracks “Thousandfold,” “Kingdome Come Undone,” and “Quoth the Raven” are instant classics, the rest of the album descends into mid-tempo obscurity. As one intimately familiar with the band’s seminal 2008 release, it’s hard to say that this album promotes any growth for the band (I refuse to acknowledge their abysmal 2009 acoustic effort). Beginning and ending with slow instrumental pieces, two more of these snooze-inducing lullabies are found breaking up the flow of the record – exactly as in Slania. The song structures and vocal techniques are unassuming while the excessive production leaves nothing to the imagination. My guess is that their previous success has made them nervous to branch out from their already distinct sound. This lack of momentum is understandable but, without taking chances, all art risks stagnation.

With the extremely apt title of Everything Remains, the band has showcased that it’s a driving force in the now established genre, even if they are unwilling to change their sound.

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