Strong Points: 'Thousandfold', 'The Essence of Ashes', the folk and metal blend.
Weak Points: a few tracks fall by the wayside, though they are still solid in and of themselves.
It's been a little over a month since Eluveitie’s album ‘Everything Remains (As It Never Was)’ has been released, and for all the piss and vinegar we were before the album dropped, we have been relatively quiet since. Don't mistake this as us tucking our tails in for hyping up an unworthy album--‘Everything Remains...' is worth the hype. Instead, I have taken this time to really acquaint myself with the record. Often with Eluveitie, the sum is greater than the whole of all its parts and some extra time is needed to soak in the (insert French accent here) ambiance. Let me stop myself here before I start to sound like the guy sipping Miller High Life in overalls at a film festival and get on with the review.
‘Everything Remains...’ starts as many folkish records do, with a short spoken word and bagpiped intro (‘Otherworld’) reminiscent of a little-known gem of a soundtrack called ‘More Music From Braveheart’. From that point, you are immediately thrown into the title track of the album, an equally heavy on folk and metal tune where it becomes clear the band has found the perfect balance between Chrigel Glanzmann’s harsh vocals and Anna Murphy’s distinctive clean ones. I am usually annoyed by (with the exception of a few) female vocals in metal, (sorry feminist movement) but Eluveitie falls with grace into the category of non-annoyance. The next track on the album is sure to be a crowd favorite, ‘Thousandfold’. It already has a video and was one of the first tracks anyone heard off of ‘Everything...’. ‘Thousandfold’ plays like a Gothenburg-esque anthem with a perfect melody and balance of traditional instruments and pure, powerful melodic-death.
The track ‘Nil’ appears next on the record, and while it's a great track, it just sort of blended in for me, not offering anything too outstanding. It will, however, remind listeners of Eluveite’s great ‘Slania’- era work. After ‘Nil’, ‘The Essence of Ashes’ takes hold of your attention as the track that almost defines the bands statement that this album would be ‘'more metal and also more folk’. An instrumental track ‘Isara’, rounds out this first half of the album splendidly with a beautiful flute melody and minimal acoustic guitar plucking. The drums coming in around the halfway mark offer modern sensibilities to an otherwise folkish track.
‘Kingdom Come Undone’ starts the second half of the album with a huge bang. We again hear elements of Gothenburg-era melodic death and traditional instruments, setting this band far apart from the rest of the ‘folk-metal pack’ but it still offers an air of familiarity that doesn't go unappreciated. ‘Quoth The Raven’ follows ‘Kingdom..’ in chronology and formula, except for the addition of Anna Murphy’s vocals, only this time less well executed. I have heard a lot of people name this track as one of their favorites on the album. For me, however, it fell by the wayside, much like the earlier track ‘Nil’ (also being named by many as a stand out track). One point on ‘Quoth...’ that did stand out, despite my reluctance about the track, was a small section near the end where you hear Murphy use harsh vocals that made me shiver with absolute delight.
‘(Do)Minion’, the next track, comes and goes without much fanfare, but is immediately followed by another grand instrumental track, ‘Setlon’. Much has been said during this review in regards to Murphy’s stand out performance on the album, but I have thus far neglected the other members of this band without whom this colossal record would not be possible. Multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Glanzmann has stepped up--not only his vocal prowess on this record, but the accented instruments he plays. Drums (Sutter), guitars (Koch, Henzi), violin (Tadic), bagpipes and whistles (Kistler) are all expertly executed in their own right, not to mention the plethora of other instruments and vocals performed by session musicians.
The final three tracks (depending on what version of the album you have), ‘Semptiternal Embers’, ‘Lugd’non’ and ‘The Liminal Passage’ are evidence, yet again, of Eluveite’s “monkey-touch-monolith’ moment. My favorite of the three is ‘Lugd’non’ which has an almost signing-off vibe to it: haunting and alternately upbeat in one fierce swoop. The final track solidifies this feeling for the end of the album, but if you’re like me, it will probably leave you wanting to start the disc again for another round.
In all, Eluveitie has created in ‘Everything Remains (As It Never Was)' an album with force and longevity. I have no trepidation whatsoever in calling it what it is: a masterpiece. In the first month alone, Eluveitie has outsold Dark Tranquillity’s highly anticipated ‘We Are The Void’--perhaps etching their place as crown holders, not only in the folk metal kingdom, but perhaps all of melodic death metal. You can pick of a copy of ‘Everything Remains (As It Never Was)' here.