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Cruachan The Middle Kingdom album cover
3.11 | 8 ratings | 1 reviews | 12% 5 stars

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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. A Celtic Mourning (4:03)
2. Celtica (Voice of the Morrigan) (5:38)
3. The Fianna (4:51)
4. A Druid's Passing (3:23)
5. Is Fuair an Chroí (4:51)
6. Cattle Raid of Cooley (Táin bó Cuailgne) (4:44)
7. The Middle Kingdom (4:38)
8. Óró sé do Bheatha Abhaile (4:16)
9. Unstabled (Steeds of Macha) (4:26)
10. The Butterfly (3:46)
11. To Hell or to Connaught* (3:52)

Total Time: 48:32

Line-up / Musicians

- Karen Gilligan / Vocals, Percussion
- Keith O'Fathaigh / Vocals, Guitars, Mandolin, Bodhran, Bones
- John Clohessy / Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
- John O'Fathaigh / Irish flute, Tin whistle, Low whistle, Uilleann pipes
- Joe Farrell / Drums, Percussion

with guests

- John Munnelly / additional vocals
- Andy Kelligan / Highland bagpipes

Releases information

Released by Hammerheart Records.

There exists a limited edition digipack with one bonus track marked with * in track list.

Thanks to SouthSideoftheSky for the addition
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CRUACHAN The Middle Kingdom ratings distribution

(8 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of rock music(12%)
Excellent addition to any rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (50%)
Collectors/fans only (12%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CRUACHAN The Middle Kingdom reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
3 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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