Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Cnoc An Tursa – The Giants Of Auld
One of the coolest things about writing these reviews is that once in a while you come across something you wouldn't ordinarily listen to that just really grabs your attention. Of course, you have to keep an open mind for that to happen, and you have to listen to a LOT of music that you wish you hadn't heard. The whole goal here at The Ripple Effect is that we only write about music we really like or love, and just as in life, sometimes things we love creep up on us, we gain an appreciation for them and realize what they mean to us. And then there is also the famed “love at first sight”. This release is more of that variety for me.
This is oft spoken of “pagan/folk metal”, which usually makes me turn right around and head in the opposite direction. But there were a couple of things that made me listen. The band is Scottish, and I have a love for Scottish folk music. And dude from Winterfylleth is a big fan, and I love those guys, so I gave it a spin. Is it still cool to use that phrase, in this digital age, when we just press play?
If all pagan metal was like this I would love it. One of my chief complaints with the genre is that it is very heavy handed musically, with just crushing death or black metal passages suddenly coming to a stop and then all manner of traditional instruments bleat on for a few minutes. It all seems a little contrived as well, what with bands wearing furs and shit on stage.
Cnoc An Tursa get it absolutely right in my opinion, because they actually BLEND the traditional instruments within their pulsing, driving metal. This is music that would be right at home on the soundtrack to Braveheart (my favorite movie of all time, if you want to know). The metal riffs are heavy and pounding, but they are also lightened by the inclusion of melodies, sometimes along with the riffs, sometimes in counterpoint, and it is all just awesome. I mentioned that I like Scottish folk music, it is beautiful and has a haunting quality to it as well, which just blends so well with metal.
My favorite tracks from the album are “The Lion Of Scotland”, “Ettrick Forest In November”, and “The Spellbound Knight”. On these songs in particular the blend of blasting and folk come together to create something magical, and you can hear why bands want to do this particular combination of music. It all makes sense when it is done right and done well. Really though, all of the tracks are epic and intense. They are all drawn from Scottish poetry. This band manages to do for Scottish poetry and folklore what Amon Amarth do for Norse mythology.
If you are into pagan/folk metal, this is an album you don't want to miss. Even if you aren't, you really should check this one out. It made a believer out of me, which is no easy thing to do. It is well worth your time, and I'm sure you will find yourself, as I did, giving this multiple listens.