Cruachan - Pagan
Karmageddon Media
Irish Celtic Metal
13 songs (52:31)
Release year: 2005
Cruachan, Karmageddon Media
Reviewed by Jay

These Irishmen have had some adversity strike their lineup recently. In and out flutist John O'Fathaigh left, rejoined and left the band again leading to a string of replacements, recording delays and other problems. When the dust cleared, the album was finished and Cruachan have finally now solidified their lineup. Their brand of Celtic metal incorporates elements of hardcore, black metal and traditional Irish folk tunes. While not as accessible as their last release, this band can do some great things with their genre of music.

The opener track, "Michael Collins," combines traditional drumming, instruments and vocal styles with a punkish breakdown and a hardcore-ish breakdown. The lyrics are quite political which is a trend that their albums have followed recently. While their back catalogue mainly focused on Irish ancient history and folklore, their last two releases have focused on contemporary history and politics. This track is certainly no exception. The title track has a similar focus against the Catholic Church using a sound combining Irish rhythms with a black metal sensibility. While the track is effective, the recording quality is not that great. The drums are distant and indistinct. The guitars all come together in a jumbled mess and the bass cannot be distinguished. They have replicated much of black metal including its often horrendous choices in sound quality. All of this is quite disappointing since the finer points of their music get lost here. The traditional instruments sound excellent though, which is a shocking contrast to the rest of this recording. "Viking Slayer" also picks the same sensibilities up from black metal. Midway through the song there is a terrific guitar and flute co-lead that is almost ruined by the vocals on top of it. While we are not talking a Finnish style guitar/keyboard lead, it is still something that stands out on this album.

"Some Say the Devil is Dead" is quite possibly my favorite track on this album. Sounding more like their last album than the rest of this album, it is an oddity on this album but excellent nonetheless. It sounds to be a traditional folk song that has been metallified complete with original lyrics and drunk man choir during the chorus. The album is peppered with slower tracks like "Erinsong," "The Fall of Gondolin," and "The Gael" which display the true understanding of how to mix traditional and contemporary musical influences. Several all instrumental Celtic tracks are included as well. This album is a logical progression down the road that Cruachan was embarking on. While the sound quality really needs a kick in the ass, the material is pure gold. Any fan of Celtic or traditional folk music should investigate this band and this album, there most traditional to date.

Killing Songs :
Some Say the Devil is Dead, Pagan, Michael Collins
Jay quoted 72 / 100
Other albums by Cruachan that we have reviewed:
Cruachan - Blood on the Black Robe reviewed by Charles and quoted 80 / 100
Cruachan - The Morrigan's Call reviewed by Ross and quoted 95 / 100
Cruachan - The Middle Kingdom reviewed by Chris and quoted 70 / 100
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