Cruachan : Blood On The Black Robe

They Say :- Cruachan signed with Candlelight records in summer 2010 and recording of their latest album “Blood on the Black Robe” began in November 2010.

The band had this to say “We are proud to announce that we have signed with Candlelight records.  We look forward to working with this great label as we prepare for the release of our new album and the Rebirth of Cruachan.
We are Reborn!! returning to our Extreme Metal roots, reclaiming what we created and are preparing a release which will not only stamp our mark on what we started but also spearhead its revival and return Cruachan to its rightful place as originators and Leaders of Folk metal”.

The fires have been lit, they are burning and they are burning strong………….

We Say :- Extreme Folk Metal seems to be something that the Scandinavians and Eastern Europeans do extremely well, whereas more home grown efforts seem to miss the point a bit and be at best dull or at worst laughably bad. Well it looks like we may finally have a contender……

I’m not sure what it is with the Irish music scene but there are some brilliant bands coming out of the Emerald Isle, and hot on the heels of Darkest Era’s The Last Caress Of Light album comes the latest effort from Dublin band Cruachan.

Now Cruachan have had an interesting history since they released their first demo in 1994 and their debut album “Tuatha na Gael” a year later. Since then they have had almost as many record labels as they have released albums and have gone down the traditional-folk-rock route and enjoyed considerable success along the way, collaborating with the likes of Shane McGowan and even managing an Irish top 40 single in 2002 with Ride On.

Blood On The Black Robe is the band’s 6th studio effort, and the first since they inked a deal with Candlelight records last year and it sees the band returning to their more extreme metal roots after the departure of vocalist Karen Gilligan. Now when some bands try to blend traditional instruments and metal guitars it can end up sounding like a dodgy mash up but it has to be said Cruachan get the mix just about right. There are places where it is pure Irish folk music, such as the first two and a half minutes of the gorgeous An Bean Sidhe (In Irish folklore, the Bean Sidhe is a spirit whose wailing sings souls on their to the otherworld, apparently) and others where it is ‘proper’ metal such as the first 2 and a half minutes of Blood On The Black Robe.

There is a constant varying of the styles here that I really like, it’s neither all Celtic Folk nor all Trad Heavy Metal, but rather an ever changing, perfectly blended balance between the two.

If there’s a problem with this album it could be that it may be a bit schizophrenic for it’s two main target audiences. It’s probably a bit too riverdance in places for the metal crowd and a bit too metal for the folk crowd.

Not for me though, I love it….