|Celtachor - ‘Nine Waves From The Shore’ (Self Released)|
|Written by Mark Ashby|
|Saturday, 26 January 2013 03:30|
As their name (it translates as ‘all of the Celt’) intimates, Dublin-based blackened folk metallers Celtachor are extremely proud of their heritage. Indeed, they see themselves very much as descendants of the ancient Celtic bards – modern-day storytellers recounting the epic tales of the deeds and events that shaped modern Ireland: “tales spoken and passed down from generation to generation”, as they put it themselves. Their debut demo, the brilliant ‘In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers’, released at the tail end of 2010, tackled subjects such as Lugh Of The Long Hand, and this debut full-lengther very much picks up where that mini-album left off, although this time the conceptual thematic is based very much around the legend of Amergin The Druid and the arrival of the Gaelic peoples on Erin’s green shores.
Here I must hold my hands up and admit that ‘Nine Waves…’ was one release which I had been looking forward to with almost breathless anticipation – and I surely have not been disappointed, as it is an album as epic in scope as its subject matter (it’s seven tracks clock in at just shy of 50 minutes) and it hit with such impressive force that, even just on first listen, it immediately crashed ashore smack at the top of my Über-list of the best offerings of the past 12 months (well, in third spot if you want to be pedantic about such trivialities).
The album crashes ashore, suitably enough, with ‘The Landing Of Amergin’ – at more than ten minutes long it not only aptly sets the tone for the dark tale it both tells and precurses, it also doesn’t pull any punches, showcasing the band’s narrative skills in one sweeping masterful song. Driven by the almost banshee-like percussive performance of Anais Cheyeyre and the pounding bass rhythms of Emile Quigley, the twin guitar attack of David Quinn and Fionn Staffort is by turn barbaric, brutal and restrained in its nascent fury, retaining the feel and melodies of traditional reels and jigs while contextualizing them into a blackened extreme metal wall of sound of while vocalist Stíofán De Roiste mixes all the best elements of a death metal frontman with those of a strolling bard, reciting his tales with passion and commitment, and interjecting them only with counterpoints of tin whistle and pipe.
‘The Battle Of Tailtin’ is suitably bruising and uplifting, while ‘The Kingship Of Bodb Dearg’ starts off as a haunting Gaelic lament, complete with bodhrans, with both the guitarists and drummer slowly picking up the background pace to explode into blastbeat infused violence, before the original melody comes back into a respectful reprise, which gives the overall feel of the tune a huge degree of depth and warmth.
I’m not going to go through ‘Nine Waves…’ track by track. Each and every one of them is thoughtfully and sympathetically developed, showing the time and care that Celtachor have put into ensuring that they are fitting of the right to pick up the mantle of the storytellers of old. And their knowledge of their subject matter is truly exemplary.
Overall, this is a masterful, nay stunning, example of how blackened folk/pagan metal should be done and shows that the Irish certainly have nothing to learn from their Scandinavian or Varangian counterparts: in fact, if anything, it emphasizes once again that the latter could do a lot worse than bow before their Celtic brethren.
As the Gaels say: “Seo sláinte an tséitéara, an ghadaí, an trodaí, agus an óltóra! Má dhéanann tu séitéireacht, go ndéana tú séitéireacht ar an mbás, má ghoideann tú, go ngoide tú croí mná; má throideann tú, go dtroide tú i leith do bhráthar, agus má ólann tú, go n-óla tú liom féin.”
‘Nine Waves From The Shore’ is out now, and you can buy your copy directly from the band HERE.