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Cruachan - The Morrigan's Call CD (album) cover




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3.83 | 10 ratings

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Symphonic Team
4 stars The extreme rover

While most so-called Folk Metal bands immerse themselves fully in one or the other particular style of Metal and then add a sprinkling of Folk music on top (a fiddle, say, or some bag pipes), Cruachan are not content with anything less than a fusion of traditional Celtic music, Irish Folk music, classic, electrified Folk Rock, and several different styles of Metal, ranging from Extreme Metal to more conventional forms of Heavy Metal. They occasionally throw some Classical or medieval arrangements into the mix as well. Labels like 'Folk Metal' or 'Celtic Metal' disguises just how diverse and eclectic this band is. They are rightly considered Prog related.

The Morrigan's Call is one of Cruachan's best albums, and perhaps the album that is most representative of the band's eclectic style. It could perhaps be described as being half-way between the more harmonious Folk-Lore and the more aggressive Pagan. As such, it shows several of the band's many faces at once. Compared to Pagan, The Morrigan's Call is of a decidedly higher sonic quality; it is much better produced and more layers and details become apparent in the sound. As on the previous two albums, there is a plethora of traditional string, wind, and percussion instruments that result in a very interesting sound together with the ordinary Rock/Metal instruments of electric and acoustic guitars, bass, drums, and some keyboards. There are some lovely Harpsichords for example, giving the music a somewhat medieval flavour at times.

The vocals are again well-balanced between male and female lead vocals, and between clean and "growling" vocals. The latter show themselves from the get-go, during the opening salvo of Shelob, which opens with a harsh scream over an aggressive beat. This is bound to make some Prog fans turn off before the first 20 seconds or so, as did I on the first listen. But I'm glad I gave it further listens, as it turned out to be an excellent album. I am normally not a fan of such extreme vocal styles, but it does not dominate the album and when it is present it is nicely balanced by the lovely and pure voice of Karen Gilligan.

The Wild Rover (here re-titled The Very Wild Rover) was a predictable choice perhaps, but it is done in a somewhat unpredictable way. It plays the same kind of role on this album that Some Say The Devil Is Dead did on Pagan, and The Rocky Road To Dublin did on Folk-Lore - an upbeat, bar-sing-a-long, clearly fundamentally different from the rest of the songs. Again, it contributes to the album's diversity and helps to keep it varied. Also, like on Pagan, they chose to re-make a track from their underdeveloped debut album. This time it is Cuchulainn, again markedly improved over the original. The Great Hunger has a heavy riff that sound like it comes from a classic Black Sabbath album but with fiddles added to great effect.

Like Pagan, The Morrigan's Call was also an album that required several listens before I began to fully appreciate it. On further listens, however, intelligent arrangements started to reveal themselves and The Morrigan's Call turned out to be another excellent album. Prog fans should probably begin with the brilliant Folk-Lore, but after that one, The Morrigan's Call (and Pagan as well) are highly recommended!

SouthSideoftheSky | 4/5 |


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