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CRUACHAN - Folk-Lore cover
3.77 | 15 ratings | 3 reviews
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Album · 2002

Filed under Folk Metal


1. Bloody Sunday (4:15)
2. The Victory Reel (1:21)
3. Death of a Gael (5:38)
4. The Rocky Road to Dublin (3:07)
5. Ossian's Return (4:44)
6. Spancill Hill (6:00)
7. The Children of Lir (5:08)
8. Ride On (4:41)
9. Susie Moran (4:11)
10. Exiles (6:36)

Total Time: 45:44

Digipack Bonus track:

11. To Invoke the Horned God (6:02)


- Karen Gilligan / Vocals, Percussion
- Keith O'Fathaigh / Vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, bodhran, mandolin, bouzouki, banjo, percussion
- John O'Fathaigh / Irish flute, Tin whistle, Low whistle, Recorder
- John Clohessy / Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- Joe Farrell / Drums, Percussion


- Shane MacGowan / Vocals on #6 & #8
- Diane O'Keefe / Cello
- Liz Keller / Fiddle, Violin
- Louise Fay / Spoken Word Vocals on #5

About this release

Released by Hammerheart Records, February 4th, 2002.

Thanks to adg211288 for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

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.
Cruachan is an Irish folk metal band and Folk-Lore is their third album, released in 2002. While some of the band’s music touches on black metal, Folk-Lore is almost entirely a folk metal album, with only a hint of the band’s black metal influences in the final track, Exiles, where male vocalist Keith Fay uses a growled style of vocals, the only time he uses his growl on the album (in contrast it features much more heavily on other albums), at other times vocals are usually handled by female vocalist Karan Gilligan or by Fay using a cleaner style. Fay also has a more middle of the road style between his over two vocal types, more extreme than his clean vocals but not really a growl either. He uses this to best effect on Ride On. Shane MacGowan of The Pogues fame also provides guest vocals on the album on the tracks Spancil Hill and Ride On (he also produced the album). This means that Folk-Lore is a very varied album in terms of vocal delivery and on first listen you really won’t know what style is coming next.

The songs on Folk-Lore fall into two categories – Cruachan originals and metal covers of traditional Irish folk songs. There are more originals than covers. Ride On is also a cover but it is not traditional. Interestingly the two covers of traditional songs, The Rocky Road to Dublin and Spancil Hill, have no known lyricist. MacGowan provides lead vocals on the latter of these. If I’m honest if there is a weak moment on Folk-Lore it is Spancil Hill, although it works very well in the context of the whole album, on its own not so much. In contrast The Rocky Road to Dublin is just a very fun song in the way that folk music can only be.

However it is their original songs that make Folk-Lore a truly great album, starting with opener Bloody Sunday (which leads straight into instrumental The Victory Reel like some sort of epic double act) right through to closer Exiles. Each track is as solid as the last and they flow together really well. Each track is able to stand on its own figurative feet, originals and covers alike. This is folk metal done at its very best and unlike some folk metal bands I’ve encountered Cruachan has produced an album that sounds very authentic. Maybe it is because they are Irish and have used their country’s folk roots with their metal influences to create their music, and this approach to folk metal just sounds so much better to me than for example a band from a country that has their own language but sings in English anyway. While these bands can be good in their own right I can’t say that I’m aware of many that have that authentic folk feel like Cruachan do, and Folk-lore is probably the best Cruachan album to introduce people to their music. Highly recommended.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)

Members reviews

The rocky road to Dublin

The pioneers of Celtic Metal unleashed their masterpiece in 2002 with Folk-Lore. Even though the Irish Folk Metal band was formed in the early 90’s and has a pre-history that spans back to the late 80’s, Folk-Lore was only their third album. And this album constituted a major improvement over the previous two.

Cruachan are a totally unique band that mixes traditional Celtic/Irish Folk music with Metal music. The styles of Metal are themselves varied and while their debut album combined Celtic Folk music with Black Metal, here it is more traditional Heavy Metal. The lead vocals are shared by Karen Gilligan and Keith Fey and are mostly clean on this album. On previous and latter albums Fey used a more aggressive vocal style that is almost entirely absent on the present album. Black Sabbath seems to be an influence as well as Symphonic Metal and electric Folk Rock. Band leader Keith Fey has stated that what Cruachan does today is what the Irish band Horslips did in the 70’s. But while Horslips mixed Irish Folk music with Jethro Tull-like Prog Rock, Cruachan mixes Irish Folk with various Metal styles. In some of their least Metal and most Folk Rock moments Cruachan remind me of the multinational, US-based Folk Rock band Tempest (which I like a lot) and they also sometimes remind slightly of the excellent female-fronted Pagan Progressive Rock band Legend (which I love).

Cruachan’s fusion of Celtic Folk and Metal is very successful and they use a number of genuine traditional Celtic wind, string and percussion instruments in addition to the traditional Rock instruments; tin whistles, flutes, bódhran, uilleann pipes, harp, bouzouki and more. They integrate the different styles much better here than on previous albums and the material is their strongest with every song being great and memorable. As a big fan of electric Folk Rock, Heavy Metal and symphonic progressive Rock, I was blown away by this brilliant band and how they fused these styles together in new and fresh ways. I’m not easily impressed and some of Cruachan’s other efforts have failed to impress me, but Folk-Lore did certainly impress me! Many Metal fans will probably prefer the more aggressive follow-up album Pagan, so don’t give up on this great band if you find Folk-Lore to be not Metal enough.

Cruachan is a much underrated band that deserves much more attention from both Metal fans and fans of Folk Rock and Prog.

Very highly recommended - a masterpiece of Folk Metal!

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