A quite nice surprise that comes from a land not very famous for its metal scene. OK, there were the mighty Tormentor
, but not many other bands come to mind when talking about Hungary! And
this seems to be a benefit to Dalriada
, as they sound exotic and abstracted from trends that seem to plague better known scenes.
“Arany-album” is the fifth full-length effort of Dalriada
(their name comes from an early medieval kingdom in Scotland/Ireland) and it follows the folk metal path of their previous releases. Compared to their latest albums (well, from a quick listen that I had, anyway!), Arany sounds more mature and consistent, mixing Hungarian folk and traditional music with heavy metal. And
this is done in a nice way. They don’t hide their metal roots by becoming a kitsch band that could perform at local traditional fests. The guitars are heavy, creating riffs that either follow the folk melodies or create their own rhythms. The drums don’t hesitate to become faster whenever needed and they provide the right pace to the right parts of each song. The folk element is created mainly by keyboards (although a real flute is also present) which sound natural and ‘warm’. Half a dozen guest musicians are, also, contributing here with their traditional instruments. Hey, not everyone has the luxury of a full orchestra! The metal part is mainly based on Heavy/Power
metal templates, with melodic riffs and nice solos. The vocal duties are shared between the female singer, who has the leading role, and one of the male guitarists, who adds some aggressive touches every now and then. The lady’s vocals are sound and neat, following the rhythm, staying in tune and creating their own melodies in a festive anthemic way, miles away from the operatic style found everywhere these days! The choral parts incorporated here, help creating a majestic feeling as well. The lyrics are in Hungarian, something that has its pros and cons. It’s nice to listen to a band performing in their native language, especially when they sing about their traditions (the album is based on the poet Janos Arany). On the other hand, this could be an obstacle in their way for international recognition. I wonder, however, how many fans of -say- Rammstein
can understand German for example. The music here speaks for itself by being the mean for a metal fan to approach the culture in which it was created. And
that part of Europe
has a rich music culture, indeed!
Speaking on technical matters, the band has produced and mixed well the album, giving each instrument space to breath and the final product flows smoothly. The artwork is quite appealing, as well, with some nice drawings. A minus that I could spot on this CD is that it runs well over 70 minutes and makes it difficult to keep track of the various changes or listen to it from start to finish at once. Each individual track is of a reasonable running time, though.
My overall impression of this album was a positive one. Everything sounds in place and they provide the scene with some kind of fresh air, maybe due to the uniqueness of their Magyar approach. Nice.