Swiss folk metallers Eluveitie – a band with up to nine band members at anyone time – are no strangers to line-up changes. But for their seventh album, Evocation II: Pantheon [Nuclear Blast], the group have ditched electricity and revisited the depths of authentic Celtic mythology.
Though Eluveitie are in the ‘folk metal’ realm generally, there is nothing metal about this record. Pantheon is the sequel to 2009’s Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion [Nuclear Blast]. And, like its predecessor, is also a mostly acoustic effort sang in the Gaulish language about Celtic gods and the like. However, compared to The Arcane Dominion this is almost an entirely different line-up; only band founder Christian “Chrigel” Glanzmann and bassist Kay Brem remain from the group which featured on 2014’s Origins [Nuclear Blast], let alone the original Evocation record.
Despite this, fans of the previous Evocation record will feel at home. Its 18 tracks clocking in at nearly an hour could sound daunting, Pantheon flies by. There’s nothing in the way of long interconnected epics, instead, it’s short upbeat Celtic pop songs interjected with barebones chanting and layered atmosphere.
Though in the majority of the band’s back catalogue lies in the ‘folk metal’ realm, there is nothing metal about this record. There’s not a death growl in earshot. It’s all jaunty folk tunes; harps, whistles, pipes, and of course the hurdy-gurdy. The dark and brooding ‘Catvrix’ is probably the highlight of the album, along with the minimalist ballad ‘Artio’ and the choir-like ‘Esvs’. It’s not heaviest in any sense of the word, but it is beautiful and joyous to listen to. The addition of various soundscapes – wind, rain etc – add to the old-world feel.
As they did with the previous Evocation album, Eluveitie will probably return to their more metallic leanings on the next record. But Pantheon is a fun, upbeat yet occasionally beautifully sorrowful record. One for folk metal fans to take the ‘folk’ part seriously.