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 ·
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.
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more than 2 years ago
Most bonus tracks are pointless. They'd be given pride of place on the main album if they were that good.
adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
I didn't know about that rerecording until my CD copy arrived today (I was streaming this from Spotify previously, who don't have the bonus track). I agree, didn't think much of it. Seemed a pointless exercise to me.

The album sounds better than ever to listen on a proper CD though!

666sharon666 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Great review. This ended up being one of my favourites from last year. I enjoyed Blood on the Black Robe too but this surpasses it in pretty much every way.

Didn't like the bonus rerecording of Pagan though. The guest female singer isn't as good as Karan.

adg211288 wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Glad you liked it. If this is your first time listening to them then you should also try Folk-Lore. Very different record but some of the best folk metal I've ever heard.
Nightfly wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Was inspired to check them out on the strength of your review. Nice one! What a great album! On order.


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