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CRUACHAN

Prog Related • Ireland


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Cruachan biography
Ireland's Cruachan are among the pioneering bands of what has become known as Folk-Metal. But they stand apart from more conventional Folk-Metal bands such as Skyclad in having taken the combination of Metal and Folk music to much greater lengths. On albums like Folk-Lore, Pagan, and The Morrigan's Call, Cruachan achieves a genuine fusion of several different styles of Metal with Celtic and traditional Irish Folk music, occasionally also incorporating Classical and Medieval elements. They combine male and female vocals, and perform on a plethora of traditional instruments including tin whistles, flutes, Uilleann pipes, Bódhran, harp, and more. The music of Cruachan is unique, but a reasonable comparison is Orphaned Land (who fuses Metal with Jewish and Middle-Eastern music in a similarly inventive fashion). Keith Fay, the leader of the Cruachan, has also indicated that they are very influenced by fellow Irishmen Horslips and has stated in interviews that "what Horslips were doing in the 70's is the equivalent of what we do now".

Cruachan was formed in 1992 (but has roots in other bands that go back to the late 1980s) by Keith Fay, John Fay, and John Clohessy. According to the band's official website, they sought to incorporate into their music and lyrics their love of Celtic music, history, and mythology, on a scale that had never been done before. They recorded a demo in 1994 and singed with a small German record company soon thereafter which resulted in the debut album "Tuatha Na Gael" in 1995. Despite suffering from poor sound and production quality, and a total lack of promotion, this album kept interest in the band alive through several difficult years during which the band almost quit.

After encouragement from enthusiastic fans, the band regained their strengths and returned with "The Middle Kingdom" in 2000. For this album they were joined by Karen Gilligan on lead vocals which totally changed the nature of the band?s music from Extreme Folk Metal to something a lot more sophisticated and eclectic. The breakthrough to a wider audience came with 2002's Folk-Lore featuring guest performances of Shane McGowan of the Pogues and spawning the single Ride On which reached top 40 in the Irish mainstream charts. Another two albums in Pagan (2004) and "The Morrigan's Call" (2006) followed in a somewhat similar style while the band enjoyed growing popularity as a live act in Germany and Russia among several other places. Gilligan left the band...
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Tuatha Na GaelTuatha Na Gael
Import
Karmageddon Media 2006
Audio CD$8.69
$10.29 (used)
PaganPagan
Import
Karmageddon Media 2008
Audio CD$7.98
Middle KingdomMiddle Kingdom
Import
Karmageddon Media 2006
Audio CD$20.42
$15.43 (used)
Morrigan's CallMorrigan's Call
Candlelight 2007
Audio CD$7.20
$58.94 (used)
Blood for the Blood GodBlood for the Blood God
Import
Imports 2015
Audio CD$32.99
Blood on the Black RobeBlood on the Black Robe
Candlelight 2011
Audio CD$3.91
$3.91 (used)
Folk-LoreFolk-Lore
Import
Karmageddon Media Nl 2006
Audio CD$19.53
$49.30 (used)
Celtic LegacyCeltic Legacy
Import
Indie Europe/Zoom 2008
Audio CD$94.29
$92.79 (used)
Morrigan's CallMorrigan's Call
Import
Vivid Sound 2007
Audio CD$19.99
$19.00 (used)
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V/A-Warzone XV Metal Invader CD Cruachan Primordial Opera IX Astarte Tierra Sant USD $9.99 Buy It Now 2 days
CRUACHAN"Tuatha na gael" ORG cd Nazgul's eyrie 95,Sabbat,Skyclad USD $39.99 Buy It Now 3 days
GEASA - Angel's Cry Digi CD '99 - MINT Season Of Mist Cruachan Folkearth USD $4.67 [0 bids]
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CRUACHAN - RIDE ON 2001 1PR SINGLE SEALED! PRIMORDIAL WAYLANDER SKYCLAD GEASA USD $24.99 Buy It Now 4 days
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Cruachan - The Morrigan's Call CD [ Pagan Folk Metal TYR Arkona Turisas Bathory] USD $7.99 Buy It Now 6 days
CRUACHAN-TUATHA NA GAEL 1 PRESS 1995 NAZGUL EYRIE PROD CULT RARE!!! USD $19.99 Buy It Now 8 days
FOLKEARTH - Songs Of Yore CD - MINT epic folk metal Cruachan USD $7.00 [0 bids]
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FOREFATHER - The Fighting Man LP - MINT Heathen Metal Cruachan USD $15.56 [0 bids]
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Cruachan - Blood on the Black Robe CD 2011 Celtic folk Candlelight UK slipcase USD $9.95 Buy It Now 10 days
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CRUACHAN-Tuatha Na Gael CD Rare 1st PRESS 1995 NAZGUL EYRIE PROD USD $14.99 Buy It Now 22 days
ALNE CD NON OPUS DAY 3RD AND THE MORTAL FEAR OF GOD STORM CRUACHAN ARKONA LUMSK USD $10.00 Buy It Now 23 days
CD Cruachan - Tuatha Na Gael RARE METAL / NAZGUL'S EYRIE PROD. 005 ORG 1995 USD $34.99 Buy It Now 23 days
CRUACHAN - Blood on the Black Robe (CD 2011) Extreme Folk Metal New USD $16.99 Buy It Now 24 days
BRIARGH - Krigas (CD 2010) Celtic Pagan Black Metal Cruachan USD $14.99 Buy It Now 24 days
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Cruachan: Blood On The Black Robe CD 2011 Candlelight USA Records CDL490CD NEW USD $6.95 Buy It Now 26 days
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CRUACHAN shows & tickets


  • Cernunnos Pagan Fest 2015 on 22 Feb 2015
  • Cruachan on 10 Mar 2015
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CRUACHAN discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

CRUACHAN top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

1.17 | 4 ratings
Tuatha Na Gael
1995
3.92 | 5 ratings
The Middle Kingdom
2000
4.60 | 6 ratings
Folk-Lore
2002
3.63 | 8 ratings
Pagan
2004
3.80 | 8 ratings
The Morrigan's Call
2006
2.14 | 3 ratings
Blood On The Black Robe
2011

CRUACHAN Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

CRUACHAN Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

CRUACHAN Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.00 | 1 ratings
A Celtic Legacy
2007

CRUACHAN Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.00 | 1 ratings
Ride On (EP)
2001

CRUACHAN Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Celtic Legacy by CRUACHAN album cover Boxset/Compilation, 2007
2.00 | 1 ratings

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A Celtic Legacy
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
2 stars Celtica

This compilation album features three tracks from each of Cruachan's first four studio albums, presented in chronological order (plus two previously unreleased tracks tagged on at the end). It starts out well enough with the lovely little instrumental I Am Tuan that also opened the band's 1995 debut album, but the other two tracks taken from this same raw and badly produced album provides a rather weak beginning of this compilation. It gives a somewhat mistaken impression of the band. The tracks taken from The Middle Kingdom, Folk-Lore, and Pagan (tracks 4 through 12 of this compilation), are however all excellent, though not necessarily the best songs from these albums. But for those fans who already own those studio albums, hearing them in this new constellation adds nothing of value. And for those who don't own those studio albums, they should better start there than with this compilation anyway, as the songs are better heard in their original contexts.

The only reason to get this compilation in addition to the original studio albums would be to hear the two previously unreleased tracks. However, anyone expecting something in line with the band's normal output is bound to be sorely disappointed here, as was this reviewer. Little Timmy Scumbag is nothing but a complete throwaway, a less than two minute long Punk song that sounds like it was "composed" while being recorded in a single take. It is rather embarrassing that they choose to include it here at all. The other song is an acoustic version of Bloody Sunday. Nice, but nothing very special.

Neither newcomers nor general fans really need this compilation. Only for collectors and hard core fans, I suppose. Prog fans looking to discover Cruachan are strongly advised to begin with the band's normal studio output from 2000's The Middle Kingdom through 2006's The Morrigan's Call.

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 Tuatha Na Gael by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 1995
1.17 | 4 ratings

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Tuatha Na Gael
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

1 stars The first battle...

This album was were it all began for Cruachan. At the time of its release it was groundbreaking in its unique blend of Black Metal and traditional Celtic Folk music. Sadly, the mixing and production is one of the worst I have ever heard in my life which makes it very close to unlistenable for me. But this didn't stop this album from sparking an underground interest that would keep the band alive through the hard times that followed. It would be another five years before they released another album, and Cruachan almost quit during the interim due to being badly treated by their record company at the time. But after encouragement from enthusiastic fans, the band regained their strengths and returned with the very different, and very much better, The Middle Kingdom in 2000.

The songs on Tuatha Na Gael do show a lot of promise, however. But it is unclear to me whether I would think that if it wasn't for the fact that several of the songs exist in better versions elsewhere. Maeves March was re-recorded for the Ride On EP in 2001, the epic The Fall Of Gondolin was re-recorded for Pagan in 2004, Cuchliann was re-recorded for The Morrigan's Call in 2006, and the traditional Brian Boro reappeared in 2011 on Blood On The Black Robe. In all cases are the later versions major improvements. As such, Tuatha Na Gael is now largely redundant. The bonus tracks on the re-issue of this album are just demos, some too of which would appear in improved versions on later albums.

Tuatha Na Gael is a raw and immature debut album which poorly represents what the band would go on to do on future releases. Today this recoding has its value primarily as a historical document. It is only recommend to Cruachan completionists, and to those with a special interest in the early history of Folk Metal. Prog fans interested in checking out Cruachan should under no circumstances begin here.

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 Blood On The Black Robe by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2011
2.14 | 3 ratings

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Blood On The Black Robe
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

2 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 only to fans and collectors of the band and of Folk Metal in general, but not really to Prog fans, unless they have a special taste for more extreme forms of Metal.

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 The Middle Kingdom by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.92 | 5 ratings

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The Middle Kingdom
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars And so the butterfly was "unstabled"

The Middle Kingdom might be the Cruachan album that is most palatable to the more traditionally inclined Prog (Folk) fan. This is so as it incorporates only a bare minimum of Metal elements (some would perhaps call this Heavy Rock rather than Metal) and nothing at all of the Extreme (Black) Metal that permeated the immature debut album. It is indeed hard to believe that this is the same band, so complete is the transformation they had gone through; like a beautiful butterfly resulting from an ugly caterpillar! The progressive elements of their sound virtually exploded onto the scene here with plenty of Symphonic, Classical, and Medieval elements present for the first time in addition to the Celtic elements. Keyboards are often prominent in the sound including string synths, piano, and harpsichord. Most importantly perhaps is that the vocals of Keith Fey that reigned supreme on the debut had now almost fully given way to the delightful voice of new member Karen Gilligan.

All this resulted in the band taking an enormous step forward with this album, both artistically and sonically (as the debut was horribly mixed and produced). As they were certainly taking a plunge here into previously unknown musical territory, some imperfections would be expected and are still noticeable. But while this initially disturbed me, I now actually find the naiveties present here rather charming. Cruachan would go on to perfect this style with their next album Folk-Lore, with which they took yet another major step forward. But already here it was obvious that they were not content to remain just a straightforward Celtic Metal band (the subgenre they virtually created). They had bigger ambitions, some of which were realized here and some on future releases.

This is not Cruachan's best album, but their Prog-related period can be said to have begun here, and it is a highly recommended addition to a collection already containing the band's next three albums.

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 Ride On (EP) by CRUACHAN album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2001
3.00 | 1 ratings

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Ride On (EP)
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

— First review of this album —
3 stars To hell or to Connaught?

Released one year after the band's second full-length album, The Middle Kingdom, and one year before their third full-length album, Folk-Lore, this EP features four tracks, one of which would later be included on the brilliant Folk-Lore. This song is, of course, the outstanding Ride On which features Shane Mac Gowan from The Pouges on guest vocals resulting in an unlikely but wonderful duet with Cruachan's own Karen Gilligan (plus some more aggressive vocals towards the end by Cruachan leader Keith Fey). Ride On even made an impact on the Irish charts! It is a great song, but since it is included on the Folk-Lore album there is little reason to get this EP for the sake of that song alone.

The other three tracks are all good too, however, and it is this that makes this EP a worthwhile addition in its own right. Even if generally somewhat less interesting than the band's full length albums, the songs here are fine Folk Metal songs. Though, the progressive elements of the band's sound are not particularly strong on these shorter tunes. The instrumental Maeves March was first featured on the band's debut from 1995, but is here presented in a re-recorded, faster, version with much improved sound quality. Sauron features lead vocals by Karen Gilligan, while Fey (I suppose?) takes lead on To Hell Or To Connaught? The latter incorporates at least one traditional Irish Folk melody, also utilized by Cruachan's idols Horslips.

Make sure you get the full-length albums first; from The Middle Kingdom to The Morrigan's Call. But after that, this EP can be a nice addition to your collection.

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 The Morrigan's Call by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.80 | 8 ratings

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The Morrigan's Call
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator 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!

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 The Morrigan's Call by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.80 | 8 ratings

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The Morrigan's Call
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by Windhawk
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

4 stars Cruachan is an Irish metal band with a long history, formed way back in 1992. The Morrigan's Call is their fifth studio album and sixth full length release - having released one compilation album - and was released in 2006 in Europe and 2007 in the US.

Musically the band themselves call their brand of metal for Celtic Metal. The best way to describe the music for me is that it is a mix of traditional Irish folk music and classic heavy metal; with some flavouring from modern black metal.

There are really three types of songs on this release. There is a few shorter songs here that are pure folk music, then there are songs that goes back and forth between folk segments and metal segments, and at last there are songs that mix both styles at once; often with pure metal and folk segments as well.

The metal segments have some variations to them as well. Some segments are clearly influenced from Black Sabbath, some are closer to classicc 80's heavy metal in style, and some are close to modern black metal. The vocals are the main element from modern black metal; as the music as such doesn't have the same intensity, pace and brutality of this genre; although it is clearly inspired by it.

The variations in style here also leads to some variation in vocal delivery. Karen Gilligan sings in both the folk segments, the classic heavy metal segments and in the mixed segments. Keith Fay sing in the same types of segments as Karen, but he also delivers the black metal style croaking in the black metal segments on this album.

Mixing folk music and metal in this way is not an easy task. There are quite a few bands that has done the regular folk metal aspect of this previously, but adding elements from black metal to this mix as well isn't that normal.

Cruachan does pull it off though; they manage to mix these styles of music quite well. The songs here are a varied lot, but mostly good. Personally I like them best when playing pure folk, and least when they leap into the black metal segments. Still, most of the music here is highly intriguing; and anyone fond of Irish folk and classic heavy metal should check out how this band mix these styles.

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 Pagan by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2004
3.63 | 8 ratings

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Pagan
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars "The preach about love, or so I am told"

After having taken such a major artistic step forward with the brilliant Folk-Lore album, Cruachan can be said to have reverted slightly to an earlier stage of their evolution with Pagan. Compared to the previous Folk-Lore album, Pagan is heavier on the Metal, and not as well produced (the drums in particular takes some getting used to), but certainly no less inventive for that. It has much more of Keith Fay's aggressive/harsh vocals which might scare some people off, but these are delightfully mixed with the angelic voice of Karen Gilligan and almost every song is a duet between the two. While I liked Folk-Lore already on my first listen, I did not at first like the present album very much; but it has grown on me a lot since I first discovered this unique band and now I consider Pagan to be an excellent album in its own right. Most Prog fans should definitely begin with Folk-Lore, but Metal fans might well prefer the present album.

The Celtic and Irish Folk elements are still very strong here, of course, pervading every song, and the The Symphonic (Rock/Metal) component is still present as well on several songs. On a few songs there is even a slight Jazzy element featuring piano! Some Say The Devil Is Dead is something of a Folk Punk song (the follow-up to The Rocky Road To Dublin from the previous album). An album full of such songs would be of minimal interest to me, but within the context of the other songs here it actually adds something of positive value. The March to Cluain Tairbh is a Medieval instrumental that Gryphon would have been proud of! A Thousand Years and Erinsong are two further folky instrumentals that have no Metal in them whatsoever. These instrumental interludes work wonders to keep the album varied and interesting to the end.

The closer The Fall Of Gondolin first appeared on the band's debut album from 1995, but here it is in a re-recorded and much improved version. It is one of the several highlights of this album. Overall, Pagan flows very well from beginning till end and many songs share a common theme; namely, liberation from foreign powers throughout the ages, in particular Irish liberation, from Vikings, Christians, or the British.

All this makes for another interesting album from Cruachan. Highly recommended in addition to Folk-Lore and The Morrigan's Call.

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 Folk-Lore by CRUACHAN album cover Studio Album, 2002
4.60 | 6 ratings

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Folk-Lore
Cruachan Prog Related

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

5 stars The rocky road from Dublin

With Folk-Lore, Cruachan perfected their unique fusion of traditional Celtic and Irish Folk music with Metal music. On this album they also relied on a strong Symphonic Rock element. The styles of Metal involved are themselves diverse, but the Extreme (Black) Metal style that dominated the debut album had thankfully been (almost) completely abandoned at this point in their career. The lead vocals are shared by Karen Gilligan and Keith Fey and are almost exclusively clean (growling vocals occur only briefly in Exiles).

The material on Folk-Lore is also the band's strongest with every track being powerful and memorable in its own right. The first three tracks are appealingly linked together by an instrumental reel. The production and sound quality is very good this time and thus a major improvement over earlier (and even some later) releases. Spancill Hill and Ride On feature Shane Mac Gowan from The Pouges on guest vocals. Ride On was released as a single. This unlikely but wonderful duet between Mac Gowan and Cruachan's own Karen Gilligan (plus some more aggressive vocals towards the end by Cruachan leader Keith Fey) even became something of hit for the band in their native Ireland!

Cruachan uses a number of genuine traditional wind, string, and percussion instruments here like tin whistles, flutes, Bodhran, Uilleann pipes, harp, Bouzouki, mandolin, banjo, and much more, in addition to the traditional Rock/Metal instruments of electric guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards. They also have some guests playing cello and violin. It may sound like a mess on paper, and it easily could have been, but Cruachan integrates these diverse styles brilliantly here, creating a genuine fusion between the different musical elements resulting in something totally new and interesting without ever overdoing it. The music is very diverse and eclectic, but musical unity and completeness are never sacrificed. Folk-Lore is a masterpiece of Prog related music that ought to appeal to fans of Prog Folk and progressive Metal alike.

Very highly recommended!

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