Formed in Germany in 1994, first known as Gloyfication, SuidAkrA changed their name by spelling the name of their vocalist (Arkadius) backwards. Shortly after they released their demo 'Dawn' in 1995. While hipster journalists would have you believe folk metal is a ‘fad posed to die out soon’, fast-forward 14 years to present day and SuidAkrA stands strong with eight full length albums and a ‘greatest hits collection’ they show no sign of slowing down. Their latest work, Crógacht, is a concept record. It's a musical tale of the hero Cuchulainn, and his journey to the Isle of Sky where he seeks to know the art of war. Big as the story sounds, the record captures the essence of a Celtic journey and a battle tale to mythical proportions.
From the first pull of the harp to the final push of the bagpipes, Crógacht makes use of traditional Celtic instruments alongside traditional bass, guitar, and drum arrangements without fault. Slán, the first track, is ethereal and atmospheric, building to epic and powerful and then slowing back down again, it’s a perfect mood-setting instrumental beginning, setting pace for the rest of the album. For me, the best song of the first half of the album was the melodic and alternately brutal ‘Scáthach. I found the only low point in the first half of the album, was ‘Feats of War’--an unmistakably out of place acoustic track with female vocals that just didn't do it for me.
The second half of the album begins with ‘Shattering Swords’, a great track the band made a music video for (here). Its length and melody makes it easy to see why they chose this song for a video, though it is not my favorite track on the album. The rest of Crógacht goes down without a hitch, has a great instrumental interlude and ends with the very best tracks. My favorite was Baile’s Strand, a seven plus minute epic that features some of the most powerful vocals any SudAkrA album has to offer--the perfect ending to an almost perfect record.
In short, Crógacht is worth you time, money and energy tenfold.