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Symphonic Team
3 stars Thy kingdom gone

With Blood On The Black Robe, the band's most recent album to date, Cruachan decided to go back to their roots and thus opted for an album of comparatively straightforward Celtic (Black) Metal in the vein of their 1995 debut album. The Celtic instrumentation is still ever present here, but it has become a lot more subtle, and for most of this album it takes a back seat. This change of direction had a lot to do with the band's female lead vocalist Karen Gilligan having left the band after the previous The Morrigan's Call album. The band has stated that they choose not to replace her and opted instead to rely wholly on Keith Fey's vocals as they did in their very early days (though Gilligan appears here as a guest on a few songs). Fay opts here for his harsh/aggressive Black Metal-style vocals which might not be everyone's cup of tea. Extreme Metal fans might celebrate this change in direction, but Prog fans can only lament. The band's Prog related days, that begun with The Middle Kingdom in 2000, seem now to be over (though one can perhaps hope for a return to more progressive pastures on future releases).

For me this album is a clear disappointment after the very strong series of albums that came before it. But having that said, this album is not bad as such. In many ways, it is a much more professional and much better sounding version of what Cruachan wanted to do with their debut album all those years ago. Maybe they thought that they had taken the eclectic, experimental, and "progressive" explorations as far as they could on albums like Folk-Lore and The Morrigan's Call, and that they could now only return to perfect the style which they once pioneered?

I do enjoy this album, but much less so than previous ones. I can recommend this album to fans and collectors of the band and of Folk Metal in general, but for Prog fans this is not essential

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Posted Wednesday, December 12, 2012 | Review Permalink

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