ELUVEITIE — Ategnatos (review)

ELUVEITIE — Ategnatos album cover Album · 2019 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
DippoMagoo
There have been a lot of metal bands making an impressive resurgence in recent years, following either long periods of inactivity, or a big lineup change that initially seemed like a major setback. One such band to enter a new era recently is Swiss folk/melodeath band Eluveitie, who had released six great to excellent albums during their first twelve years of existence, before announcing some huge lineup changes in 2016, the biggest of which being the departure of Anna Murphy (Vocals, Hurdy Gurdy) and the addition of Fabienne Erni (Vocals, Mandola, Harp.) One year later, the band would release Evocation II – Pantheon, the long-anticipated sequel to their first ever acoustic folk release. However, while I found that album is enjoyable enough, it left me desperately wanting to hear how their new lineup would sound on a heavier album, so when the band’s eighth full-length release, Ategnatos, was announced, I was excited to hear how it would turn out. Now that it is here, it has not only exceeded my expectations: it has become by far my favorite Eluveitie album to date, and one that represents all aspects of their music perfectly, while also showing small signs of evolution.

Eluveitie essentially has two main aspects to their music: The heavy, melodeath infused sections where frontman Chrigel Glanzmann leads the way with his epic, varied growls, and the softer, more epic and melodic folk passages. The two often intersect on many tracks, and I generally find these tracks to be the band’s best works, with the mix between harsh and clean vocals, along with the heavy guitar work and extensive folk melodies, coming from many different unique instruments, all coming together to create something special. Stylistically, Ategnatos delivers more of what any fan of the band would want, with many straight-forward, hard-hitting melodeath passages, a fair amount of softer passages where Fabienne steals the show with her light, yet very powerful and emotional vocals, and a ton of sections where the two styles come together for something truly amazing. There are also some sections where the guitar work goes a bit into metalcore territory, though this is handled very well, and adds an extra level of intensity, without taking things too far, and there are also a ton of nice softer sections, as well as a couple of more danceable, somewhat pop-ish tracks, where Fabienne really gets to shine. Performances are strong across the board, as always, with Chrigel and all musicians, both old and new, doing a great job, while Fabienne really gets to shine in her first full album (Evocation II was very light on vocals) and proves to be an excellent addition to the band. The production is also top-notch, with all the different elements coming together perfectly, and it all sounds wonderful together.

As great as everything sounds, the most impressive part of the album is how the songwriting manages to be both incredibly varied and extremely consistent, with some of Eluveitie’s most dynamic songwriting to date, as well as some of their catchiest, most satisfying songs in quite some time. The title track (which also serves as the lead single) kicks things off in typical fashion, with a brief narrative section, which introduces the album’s overarching theme of rebirth (a very fitting theme, considering the band’s circumstances) and then there’s an extended sequence of folk instrumentation and choral vocals, before the guitars eventually take over and the band charges ahead with their classic melodeath sound, as Chrigel mixes high and low growls together wonderfully during some fun verses, and Fabienne joins along during a fun, soft chorus. It’s a very nice track and does a great job of alternating between speedy, intense melodeath passages, and more melodic folk sections. It’s an excellent indication of what to expect from the album.

I’ll divide the rest of the album into three categories, starting with the heavier, more melodeath focused tracks. First up, we have “A Cry in the Wilderness”, which starts out with nice folk instrumentation and percussion, before speeding ahead during some intense, fast-paced verses. It has a nice combination of folk instrumentation and heavy guitar work, and is a very heavy and fun track, with Chrigel delivering some epic growls, especially during the chorus. The most intense track, though, is “Mine is the Fury”, a short but absolutely brutal track, which has the most frantic, hardest hitting verses, as well as an intense, somewhat groove infused middle section. It does make use of some great folk melodies, but it’s a very hard hitting track, overall, and quite the fun one as well. A couple of tracks later is “Worship”, a track which has some epic folk melodies as well as some narration and it’s probably the most melodic of the Chrigel dominated tracks, but it’s still fast and very heavy at points, especially during the verses, while the chorus is more melodic, though Chrigel still delivers some very powerful, lower pitched growls, which work great. Lastly, we have “Threefold Death”, which has some beautiful vocals from Fabienne during soft passages at the beginning and near the end, but for the rest of its duration it’s rapid-fire, pulverizing melodeath track, with more very heavy guitar work, and epic growls from Chrigel.

On the softer side, there are three nice interludes throughout the album, which are mostly pure Celtic folk, and transition nicely between full-length songs. The first softer full-length song is “The Raven Hill”, which is one of the purest folk metal tracks on the album, with some nice Celtic folk melodies laying the backdrops for a more relaxing, though still intense track. Chrigel growls during the verses, while Fabienne delivers some nice vocals during the chorus, as well as during the intro, and it’s a very melodic, very beautiful track overall, with some especially great folk instrumentation throughout the track. One particularly unique track is “Ambiramus”, a fun, more pop-ish track with some very danceable melodies, as the folk instruments have a catchy, almost electronic sound to them, that is only really noticeable on this track. it’s a soft track, with slow verses and a very upbeat, extremely catchy chorus where Fabienne delivers some of her most powerful and inspired vocals on the entire album. It was definitely a great choice for a single and is one of the best songs on the album. Near the end of the album, “Breathe”, is another very beautiful track with a heavy focus on folk melodies. It does have some heavy guitar work, especially during the instrumental section in the second half, but it’s a slower paced, very melodic track overall, where Fabienne really gets to showcase her smooth and beautiful, yet very powerful voice. It could end up being one of the less liked tracks on the album, but it’s actually one of my personal favorites, due to how relaxing and catchy it is, as well as how amazing the vocals are throughout. Lastly, the album closes off with Eclipse”, a soft outro type track, which takes the main melody and lyrics from the previous track, “Rebirth”, and allows Fabienne to run with it, resulting in another stunning vocal showcase.

While both the heavier and softer tracks are amazing, the tracks that strike a balance between the two tend to be among my favorites. First up, following the title track and an interlude, is “Deathwalker”, a track which has some very heavy, slightly metalcore infused guitar work during the verses, while still having some beautiful folk melodies, as well as a very fun, upbeat chorus where both vocalists work together wonderfully. Similarly, “Black Water Dawn”, does an excellent job of alternating between heavy and softer passages, especially during the chorus, while the verses move along a decent, but not an overly fast pace, and have some intense growls. The chorus, though, is very melodic and gives Fabienne some room to work with, while the instrumental section in the second half is heavy, intense and really cool. On the softer side, but still having some intense growled sections is “The Slumber”, which has some more excellent folk melodies throughout, and it’s a slower, very calm track overall, with some heavy growled parts during the verses, and some beautiful, soft melodies during the chorus, which is dominated by clean vocals. The last full-length song on the album is “Rebirth”, which is the first song releases from the track, but it came out about a year and a half ago, so it’s hard to really call it a lead single. If anything, it initially served more like a tease at what fans could expect to hear from the band in the future. Either way, it’s an absolute stunner of a track, and probably my favorite on the album, again alternating wonderfully between speedy melodeath sections, with a slight touch of metalcore during some slower, pounding sections, as well as a very melodic chorus, where Fabienne gets to shine. The instrumental section in the second half is absolutely epic and spectacular, while the ending is also perfect and serves as a great lead into the aforementioned closing track, which ends the album wonderfully.

When Eluveitie announced their major lineup changes a few years ago I was concerned, and wondered whether they would be able to retain their high quality, but now that I’ve heard Ategnatos, I’m very pleased to say the band has stormed back in a wonderful way, producing possibly their best, most dynamic release to date! It strikes a perfect balance between their classic melodeath elements, as well as their epic Celtic folk sound, and it serves as an excellent full debut for new vocalist Fabienne Enri, while still allowing frontman Chrigel Glanzmann to shine as much as ever before. Longtime fans of the band should be pleased with the album, while fans of either folk or melodeath are highly recommended to give it a listen, as it’s likely to be among the best albums from either genre released this year.

originally written for myglobalmind.com: https://myglobalmind.com/2019/04/06/eluveitie-ategnatos-review/
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