Eluveitie // Everything Remains (As It Never Was)
Rating: 2.5/5.0 —Pretty solid, but too formulaic
Label: Nuclear Blast (EU | US)
Websites: eluveitie.ch | myspace.com/eluveitie
Release Dates: EU: 19.02.2010 | US: 03.09.2010
While not the first folk metal band to take the world by storm, Eluveitie has always been a bit of a unique thing in the folk metal scene. Really, the band has tremendous success when compared to other bands in the genre. After being picked up by Nuclear Blast, they’ve had three albums, big American tours (something that has only started recently for the genre) and become very well known and well loved among folk metal enthusiasts and just regular metal enthusiasts alike. Everything Remains (As it Never Was) is the band’s big third record from Nuclear Blast (5th total) and it is set to make a big metal splash.
Frankly, the band hasn’t changed anything, except that they’re more poppy than ever. Everything Remains (As it Never Was) starts out with the obligatory album intro that sets the stage for the whole album (and a sad part from Braveheart). The tracks are heavy and well-produced, but much cleaner than earlier work, and the trilling flutes and bagpipes permeate every chorus of this album, formulaically building up to the climax of almost every song in precisely the same way. At its base, Eluveitie is basically a melodic death metal band. This stood out to me as I listened to this album: tracks like “The Essence of the Ashes” have obvious In Flames leanings on the guitars. “Kingdom Come Undone” and “Sempiternal Embers” both reek of Hypocrisy and Dark Tranquillity and the only thing that actually differentiates this band from those bands is the ability of the musicians to swap out what the guitar would normally do in a DT song for a flute, fiddle or bagpipe.
But Eluveitie isn’t just a melodic death metal band, they’re a modern melodic death metal band, I’ve never really put my finger on this before. There is a ton of stoppy, “Core” riffs on this record that are simply offset by a trilling flute. The choruses are huge, poppy and bordering on schlager at times in their structure and enormity, leading often times to a sense that the verses are simply there to connect big catchy choruses to each other and for no other reason. The band has also dumped the blast beats that one hears on the earlier records completely, leaving the band far more in the post-glory days Swedish Death Metal (i.e., Gothenburg scene) arena. The song structures are quite simple and similar to each other, and because the flute basically does the same thing all the time, the songs start to sort of blend into one another. This is partially because the sort of Riverdance flute style doesn’t really lend itself to memorability, but feels more decorative than anything and the guitars and vocals don’t offset it, leading to swaths of unmemorable trilling.
Of course, there are high points on this album, too. The points where they actually point themselves in a more folk metal direction are the parts that I really appreciate about Everything Remains. For example, the chorus in the song “The Essence of the Ashes”, where they break down into clean vocals that are reminiscent of Fejd, is a major win. The folk tracks that are sort of devoid of metal are also quite beautiful and breathtaking; “Isara” and “Setlon” both set an atmosphere of beauty and simplicity which embodies the title of this album. My personal favorite track on the album is “Lugdunon” which, while it’s built on a production trick in the beginning, has excellent dynamics that are not really demonstrated on other parts of the album, including an amazing flute melody and a super 80s rock sounding breakdown that really stands out from the rest of the album.
What this leads me to is that variation, dynamics and a new approach to the metal aspects of this album are lacking. While there are some compelling songs and moments, this record generally falls short of my expectations due to its more simplistic and poppy elements, which are the things that draw the listener to the band in the first place. While Everything Remains (As it Never Was) is definitely on par for quality with Slania, I don’t think it’s as strong as Spirit and that’s probably because the sound isn’t as novel or fresh as it was when I became infatuated with “Your Gaulish War”. This band is definitely not mediocre, but this album is not what I was expecting from it. Of course, you can (and should) check for yourself (as the band has posted the album on MySpace through the 19th of February presumably).