Since their debut album in 1995, “Tuatha Na Gael”, Crucan kind of strayed away from black metal over the years and went down a more traditional path of Irish-folk with elements of classic metal and female vocals. But with their latest release, “Blood
on the Black Robe”, it’s obvious they’ve returned to their roots while still keeping that strong folk influence. The first thing you’ll realize is the lack of Karen Gilligan’s vocals, recently parting with Cruachan
, we are lucky to hear her still on a few of these tracks, though that’s not to say that Keith Fay doesn’t hold well enough on his own. Fay’s vocals are vicious but they are clear enough to understand the tales he sings of the ancient and sometimes more modern times of Ireland.
” is the opener on the album and you can hear the call and feel the tension build as battle is about to take place on the field before it explodes into the second track, “I Am Warrior
” where Fay releases full fury. The violin done by John Will
is phenomenal and fits the feel of the track perfectly. “Thy Kingdom
Gone” pushes through with brute force and a fantastic medieval rhythm.
“An Bean Sidhe” is very atmospheric with the sounds of the river flowing in the background followed by tin whistle and violin. Karen Gilligan chimes in with her haunting vocals before it rises up with double-pedal drumming provided by Colin Purcell and brutal riffs. Fay shows that his chops are in top form on the title track and both he and Gilligan complement each other once again with dual chanting during the chorus. “Primeval Odium
” blends the sounds of traditional Irish folk music with the hostility of black metal and brings it to a whole other level. The musicianship is just amazing; you can tell that everyone in Cruachan
is pushing themselves to make this album different than anything you’ve heard before.
“The Voyage of Bran” is one that stood out the most to me with Gilligan and Fay going back and forth between folk and metal vocals, the interplay between the two is what sets Cruachan
from even those who are in the same genre. I hope this continues on future albums!
on the Black Robe” isn’t just something that you sit down and listen to. It takes you in and carries you to the ancient battlefields of Ireland, from the tiny villages to the mighty kingdoms; there is history and storytelling along with incredible music. Keith Fay has expressed clearly that he wanted the band to go back to their black metal roots and I think they have done so with full force. Cruachan
clearly had a hand in the beginning of folk metal and now they have taken it up to a level where it will extremely hard for bands that followed behind them to match! This album is brilliant and you don’t want to miss it when it comes out on the 18th!