When it comes to folk metal, ELUVEITIE has been holding the torch in front of the other acts for over a decade now. With tons of releases on their plate, I honestly can't think of any time the band put out an album that wasn't positively received. Since their 2017 release "Evocation II - Pantheon" was an acoustic album, it has been a while since we have heard a full-blown folk metal album from the folk metal act from Switzerland. Luckily, the time has come for the band to release their newest studio effort "Ategnatos" on 5 April 2019 through Nuclear Blast.
Every ELUVEITIE album is known to have a deeper historical concept, and this time around the album focuses around the theme of rebirth, unlike the other albums, the album doesn't tell stories or mythologies, but instead it focuses on the contemplation of the theme for the band on a personal level. This concept is very important in every aspect of the album, the music, the progressions, the structure, the lyrics etc.
The album begins the same way as many of ELUVEITIE's albums have started in the past, a spoken word introduction that builds up a to an atmospheric musical score that then climaxes into the title track of the album "Ategnatos". This formula has proven to be successful in the past, so why change it? Moreover, it gives a deeper insight into the theme of the album, as CHRIGEL GLANZMANN said about the album during our interview (read it here) death in Celtic thinking is not the end, nor the destination, instead it's a bus stop on the way of a complete journey, in that sense it's easy to reflect as part of the listening experience if it's not really the band's story and how they have changed over time, what choices they made to come the way they have walked so far and what is about to come. The opening song hits hard, and serves its purpose smoothly.
What is perhaps most interesting about the album is its diversity and some sides to ELUVEITIE that we haven't crossed paths with. Most apparent is the surprisingly uplifting and poppy "Ambiramus", a song that gets stuck in your head instantly, with its poppy and catchy melodies, but it works so well, and moreover again proof that FABIENNE ERNI is probably one of the best things that has happened to the band. I was a Anna Murphy fan beforehand, but there's just something about ERNI's voice that enhances the music and brings it to a magic level. Songs like "The Slumber" and the ballad "Breathe" are carried solely by her emotive performance, and often she adds a deeper dimension in the songs, and her voice blends in so nicely with GLANZMANN's growls, especially clear in one of my favorite parts of the album "Deathwalker".
The tracks fit together like gloves, with beautiful (sometimes instrumental) transitions, and it almost feels as if there were no filler tracks on this one, which is quite impressive considering its length. Traditional folk melodies go together with furious blast beats, enchanting melodies and pulled back sections. The whole album experience feels somehow like a story from start to end, and provides an immersive experience in which you also might wander around in your mind as to how you have come to this point in your life, and when you come to the end of the album and it kind of feels like a loop, you perhaps have found out the answer to your questions. A simple but yet beautiful ending to a strong album.
Production-wise, we are talking once again about an amazingly balanced album. The folk elements are not overused, they belong there, they are not meant to outshine the rest of the sections either. With "Ategnatos" ELUVEITIE step back to their familiar old folk-inspired death metal. "Ategnatos" is definitely an album that old fans will enjoy listening to, but also one that can attract new audiences to the band's music.
The musical journey that ELUVEITIE has undertaken, has brought us to "Ategnatos", the beginning of a new phase for the band. With "Ategnatos" the band has reinvented their sound, resulting in twists and turns around a traditional folk-infused base with layers of catchy melodies, furious blast beats and an impressive concept that is present from start to finish.