CRUACHAN — Blood for the Blood God (review)

CRUACHAN — Blood for the Blood God album cover Album · 2014 · Folk Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
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.
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