CRUACHAN
Folk Metal • Ireland

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Cruachan is a Irish Celtic Metal band that was formed in 1992 after the demise of the band Minas Tirith. The name was taken from the capital of the Middle Ages Irish kingdom of Connacht, an important site in irish mythology. Cruachan are considered to be one of the earliest folk metal acts to have existed, along with Skyclad, whose first album The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth is credited as one of the biggest influences behind starting the band, as well as traditional Irish music and mythology.

Cruachan is led by guitarist Keith Fay (Keith O'Fathaigh) who at different times in the band has also held the bassist and vocalist roles, as well as also playing various folk instruments on the band's releases. Keith was the original vocalist for the band during their early years when Cruachan was more of a black metal influenced act but unsatisfied with his
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CRUACHAN Discography

CRUACHAN albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 4.29 | 10 ratings
Tuatha Na Gael
Folk Metal 1995
.. Album Cover 3.76 | 10 ratings
The Middle Kingdom
Folk Metal 2000
.. Album Cover 4.18 | 11 ratings
Folk-Lore
Folk Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 4.13 | 8 ratings
Pagan
Folk Metal 2004
.. Album Cover 3.91 | 9 ratings
The Morrigan's Call
Folk Metal 2006
.. Album Cover 3.78 | 10 ratings
Blood on the Black Robe
Folk Metal 2011
.. Album Cover 4.91 | 6 ratings
Blood for the Blood God
Folk Metal 2014

CRUACHAN EPs & splits

CRUACHAN live albums

CRUACHAN demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

.. Album Cover 3.50 | 1 ratings
Celtica
Folk Metal 1994
.. Album Cover 3.75 | 2 ratings
Promo '97
Folk Metal 1997
.. Album Cover 4.00 | 1 ratings
I Am Warrior
Folk Metal 2009

CRUACHAN boxset & compilations

.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Celtic Trilogy
Folk Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 0.00 | 0 ratings
A Celtic Legacy
Folk Metal 2007

CRUACHAN singles (2)

.. Album Cover
3.00 | 1 ratings
Ride On
Folk Metal 2001
.. Album Cover
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Very Wild Rover
Folk Metal 2006

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CRUACHAN Reviews

CRUACHAN Blood for the Blood God

Album · 2014 · Folk Metal
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666sharon666
Back around 2008 time, perhaps a little later, Irish folk metal band Cruachan made a decision about their future that I expect didn't really go down well with most of their fans. Their lead singer, Karan Gilligan, had left and the band opted not to replace her. Instead their original vocalist Keith Fay, who'd been getting increased vocal time with each album after 2000's Karan dominant The Middle Kingdom, took the helm full time again and the group made a black metal based folk metal album, Blood on the Black Robe, in 2011. Karan returned as a guest, but the album was a statement. Cruachan wanted to return to extremer pastures.

Their latest release Blood for the Blood God is quite a surprise after that last album as while this is still more black metal influenced than any of the album's with Karan, I wouldn't call it a black metal album overall. Keith continues as the lead singer but varies his vocals a lot more, which also allows the style of songs to vary as well, between black metal ones like the title track and more fully Celtic flavoured ones. There's even a lively cover of a traditional folk song. The composition is a lot stronger to my ears; I did enjoy the last album but it hasn't stood the test of time the last few years have given it and I still find myself listening to the band's first three albums a lot more than the next three. I can see that changing with Blood for the Blood God though. This is, to me, clearly their most accomplished work in quite a while and quickly became a favourite of mine for 2014.

As a bonus track the band re-recorded the song Pagan from the album of the same name released in 2004. I'm not really fond of this new version. It's better produced, Pagan as an album's biggest problem has always been a not so great production, but the guest female singer doesn't have as nice a voice as Karan, and Cruachan kept the new version faithful to the original. I think I'd have preferred to have heard them redo it with just Keith singing. It would have been more in keeping with the main album, if nothing else.

CRUACHAN Tuatha Na Gael

Album · 1995 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Tuatha Na Gael (1995) is the debut full-length album by Irish Celtic folk metal Cruachan. Tuatha Na Gael is generally considered to be one of the earliest releases of the folk metal genre, especially of the Celtic variant. I don't claim a complete knowledge of every album that's ever been made but I do believe that Tuatha Na Gael may even be the first true Celtic metal full-length album, following on from Cruachan's prior demo Celtica (1994). This is quite the historic release in my mind and with the album twenty years old to the day of this review (April 30th) I decided to give my in depth thoughts on it. I've actually reviewed it before, but decided to revisit as I was no longer completely happy with the original text.

It's odd to think though that this very nearly may have been the only Cruachan album ever released. The band ended up breaking up in 1997. I often wonder if the folk metal genre would have developed differently if Cruachan hadn't reinvented themselves and made their comeback in 2000. In my view, Cruachan are one of if not the most important act to have played folk metal. I know most like to credit Skyclad for truly starting this fusion of folk and metal and maybe some others tried it before Cruachan came along, but they're certainly the earliest band I've discovered to take the style to the next level with quite the array of authentic folk instrumentation on display. We're talking mandolins, flutes, pipes, bodhrán and more on here. Real ones, not faked with synthesisers. Compare that to say Skyclad's The Wayward Sons of Mother Earth (1991) with its violin and piccolo. Cruachan have so much more going on. I don't doubt that what Skyclad did was important to folk metal's development as well but to me at least, Tuatha Na Gael was more important and genre defining.

In terms of Cruachan's whole discography though, Tuatha Na Gael is actually the oddball album, or at least it was until the release of Blood on the Black Robe (2011). You see Tuatha Na Gael is also a black metal album, and it's a very raw sounding black metal album at that which makes the album markedly different from all the more cherry types of folk metal groups doing the rounds today. It's atmospheric, melancholic stuff that is crafted pretty damn well in my book but the raw sound may ultimately be a turn off for anyone coming to this album later having experienced some of the following work, which feature a lead female singer, Karen Gilligan, and very few black metal elements until they started to reappear on Pagan (2004) with the sound coming full circle (albeit modernized with better production) on Blood on the Black Robe, released after the Gilligan's departure and Cruachan's decision to make Keith Fay the sole vocalist again, as is also the case on Tuatha Na Gael. Even so, that album and this one are still very different beasts.

The songs on the album tend to be reasonably long with a few shorter ones. The tracks The First Battle of Moytura, Fall of Gondolin, Cúchulainn, Táin Bó Cuailgne and To Moytura We Return are all between the seven - nine minute mark. This is another thing that sets Tuatha Na Gael apart from Cruachan's later work as apart from a few exceptions, most of them on their only other black metal album Blood on the Black Robe, their songs tend towards shorter marks. The band leave a lot of room for instrumental sections. I guess I have to be fair and point out that from a technical point of view the raw black metal production job doesn't always let the details stand out as well as they could, but the album certainly makes up for that in other ways. The folk instrumentation of Cruachan has always been a particular treat and that's no different on their debut than it is on later work.

I gather than Cruachan earned most of their fans during Karen Gilligan's era so sadly Tuatha Na Gael does seem to be one of the more underrated records in their discography. I personally prefer it to a lot of their other work with the exception of Folk-Lore (2002) and Blood for the Blood God (2014). The raw sound doesn't work for every artist and it wouldn't have worked for Cruachan on their less black metal based albums, but it does on Tuatha Na Gael. Music for me is normally just that, music, but this is the sort of special album that conjures its own atmosphere. I can imagine sitting around a campfire in the woods at night, listening to stories of Celtic mythology (a well of inspiration for Cruachan's themes) and Tuatha Na Gael is the soundtrack, the music an ominous companion against the dark. Or maybe I'm just spouting drivel, but the point is Tuatha Na Gael has something in my opinion that other folk metal records don't have, which goes a good way to explain my opinion that this is actually one of the best Cruachan releases. I do prefer those other two I mentioned, Folk-Lore and Blood for the Blood God, but in terms of overall important to the genre, the winner will always be Tuatha Na Gael. The most important records aren't always the best a group ever makes or their genre goes on to produce and there's no doubt in my mind either that Tuatha Na Gael has always been a high quality debut from Cruachan. I'm going to settle on 4.5 stars.

CRUACHAN Blood for the Blood God

Album · 2014 · Folk Metal
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adg211288
Blood for the Blood God (2014) is the seventh full-length album by Irish Celtic folk metal act Cruachan. Blood for the Blood God is the second part of the band's Blood Trilogy which began with Blood on the Black Robe (2011). Things have changed in the Cruachan camp a fair bit though since the release of that last album with the departure of long standing bassist John Clohessy, who had been with the band almost as long as leader Keith Fay (vocals, guitars, etc). Drummer Colin Purcell has also parted ways with the group. Replacing them are Eric Fletcher and Mauro Frison respectively. Cruachan has also expanded themselves to a two guitar line-up by adding Kieran Ball to the band.

Despite being a follow-up to Blood on the Black Robe, Blood for the Blood God is quite a different sounding Cruachan release. Of course fans of the band will be used to hearing very different releases from the band by now. Though starting with a very raw black metal based sound to create their folk metal with their debut Tuatha Na Gael (1995) with second album The Middle Kingdom (2000) they largely dropped their black metal elements, a move which including bringing in a female vocalist, Karen Gilligan, and transformed their music completely. With fourth album Pagan (2004) the black metal elements began to increase in frequency again which, after Gilligan's departure from the band, led to Blood on the Black Robe, their most black metal orientated release since the debut. Blood for the Blood God continues down this path a little way, but varies the band's approach to it. I hear more ideas that sound influenced by the Gilligan fronted albums here than I did on the previous effort and in truth Blood for the Blood God is more blackened than actual black metal.

Keith Fay's vocals are quite varied on this album, ranging from a black metal style growling and a form of harsh vocals that aren't quite a growl but could hardly be described as clean singing either, which reminds me of his vocals on the band's third album Folk-Lore (2002). There are some clean vocals as well though, as well as some female vocals from a guest singer (not Karan Gilligan returning this time as she did on the last album, but a singer I have never heard of called Barbara Allen). Both Fay's clean singing and the female singer are heard most notably on The Marching Song of Fiach Mac Hugh which is an Irish folk song (renamed from Follow Me up to Carlow). Cruachan have done covers like this before such as The Rocky Road to Dublin on Folk-Lore and Óró sé do bheatha abhaile on The Middle Kingdom. Something like this was absent on Blood on the Black Robe and given the direction taken on that album I did actually wonder if we'd ever hear Cruachan going down that road again but Blood for the Blood God is evidence that they've had a change of heart towards the direction of the previous album and are now balancing the old with the new (or maybe that should be older as their debut was also black metal). It's for this reason I think that Blood for the Blood God quickly proves itself to be among Cruachan's best albums. Aside from the variety of approaches used the band still creates some of the most authentic sounding folk metal as you'll ever find. The title track, Beren and Luthien and The Sea Queen of Connaught are all especially good tracks. I'm also pretty fond of The Marching Song of Fiach Mac Hugh, Cruachan's takes on tracks like that are pretty fun and addictive to listen to.

Of course an album like this is bad news for fans who want Cruachan to strictly stick with the black metal based stuff, but I guess good news for anyone who wasn't so keen on Blood on the Black Robe. I personally really enjoyed it but I have to admit it is a bit one dimensional, especially when put up against what the band just delivered with Blood for the Blood God, which as an album blows it out of the water. This is easily the best mix of Cruachan's two extremes I've heard. I do still sometimes miss the lead female vocals of albums like Folk-Lore though, which remains my favourite Cruachan album and at this point I don't see much chance of it being topped. Take Folk-Lore out of the equation though and Blood for the Blood God would easily be the best thing they've ever done so for that reason I'm compelled to go with the full 5 stars for this one.

CRUACHAN Blood on the Black Robe

Album · 2011 · Folk Metal
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Warthur
Blood On the Black Robe finds Cruachan making an effort to claw things back to basics, dredging up plenty of black metal influences which somewhat mask the folk influences that are half of the band's sound. The folk-metal approach is still present, however - even in the most furious depths of the album John Ryan Will's violin is never far away. At the same time, the band still has the problem that they are marrying mildly predictable metal to mildly predictable folk to produce something which feels as if it is less than the sum of its parts. Perhaps worth dipping into if you loved their debut album but felt they softened too much on subsequent releases.

CRUACHAN Folk-Lore

Album · 2002 · Folk Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Warthur
I'd like to enjoy Cruachan's music, I really would, because on paper the idea of fusing metal with traditional Irish music is an intriguing idea. I don't know what I was expecting going into Folk-Lore - perhaps something like a harder rocking version of Clannad? - but what I got was fairly disappointing. Rather than providing a smooth blending of the two different musical traditions the band draw from, more often they seem to be playing fairly bland metal and occasionally playing fairly bland Irish folk music over it. To my ears, at least, the end result isn't a whole that's greater than the sum of its parts. Oh well; I suppose those who are particularly keen on traditional Irish music might get a bit more out of this than I did, but personally I just don't see the appeal.

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