Were Angry Metal Guy not lashed to the slave stick most days, I’m sure he would make good on his promise to give this a 1.0/5.0 based solely on how much he hated Eluveitie’s last album Origins. To be fair, that verdict may overstate the strain that Origins placed on Eluveitie’s generic melofolk, but not by much. 2016 saw the Swiss collective force out longtime drummer Merlin Sutter, with veteran vocalist Anna Murphy and guitarist Ivo Henzi departing alongside him. Combine this with the band’s longest gap between albums and a stark stylistic change and Evocation II – Pantheon suddenly becomes Eluveitie’s most intriguing release in years.

Since 2008, Eluveitie have watered down the righteous riffage of their youth to their current diminished standards. The one exception to that trend is Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion, which deviated into acoustic folk more thoroughly than any album before or since. Our sage sysadmin Sentynel noted that Eluveitie are a better folk band than they are a folk metal band at this point. It seems that particular complaint card reached upper management at Eluveitie Inc., as Evocation II has no growls, no distortion, no riffs or shred of heaviness. That’s right, kids. Welcome to another edition of Angry Not Metal Guy.

And honestly, it does Eluveitie a world of good. “Epona” – Celtic deity, not pixelated stallion – begins the album in true with a catchy, upbeat affair led by fiddle-wielder Nicole Ansperger and new vocalist Fabienne Erni. Buried somewhere alongside the bagpipes and hurdy gurdy is the occasional scream, but for the most part, it’s more mandola than metal. “Nantosvelta” opens anchored to the whistles of Chrigel Glanzmann and Matteo Sisti, but reaches full jam status by elevating into a duel with wind and string. Drummer Alain Ackerman heightens the atmosphere with his crashing cymbals and in these moments, Eluveitie’s tactical decision appears all the wiser. Recognizing that their ability to craft compelling folk had long outstripped their ability to write noteworthy metal and embracing that strength results in a sound that feels fresh and revitalized.

In true Eluveitie fashion, Evocation II grinds out 18 songs in only 53 minutes, relying on tight transition passages to break up delicious folk escapades. What the album lacks in brutality it makes up for in variety. With 9 contributors manning at least 15 different instruments, Evocation II could easily have sounded like warm-ups at a high school band practice. To their credit, the album’s myriad layers feel cohesive far more often than jumbled or cacophonous. Some melodies work better than others – the chorus of “Lvgvs” grates in particular – but tracks that rarely stretch past 3-4 minutes lessen the impact of individual miscues. That doesn’t excuse the chaff, however. “Cernvnnos” and “Esvs,” among others, lack the sense of purpose to excel the way that rollicking “Grannos” or “Antvmnos” do. At times, the way that the upbeat folk tunes touch on the same territory makes you wonder why their stronger aspects were not merged into a singularly stout song. Likewise, acoustic “Inis Mona”-rehash “Ogmios” should never have made the main listing, as its inclusion only sends me running back to Slania.

I must highlight Fabienne Erni’s performance at the mic. Replacing Anna Murphy was no easy task, given Murphy’s talent, experience, and the fact that the lyric sheet is in Gaulish, a dead fucking language. Erni displays capability without doing too much, navigating a timbre that could have been too sugary but for this restraint. She strays too high on parts of the darkened Darkher passages of “Artio,” but otherwise provides depth to a light-hearted spin. Yet despite Erni’s prowess, I find Evocation II executes its instrumental tracks most successfully. “Nantosvelta” and “Grannos” keep foot-stamping at a maximum while “Belenos” and “Taranis” ensure the album closes with memorability.

The album’s production does the album a service, ranging from DR6/7 on a few of the meatier efforts to non-interlude DR11s and sounding great the whole time. As someone who doesn’t much like Evocation I – or Eluveitie, for that matter – I expected very little out of this one. Instead, the second time’s the charm for Evocation, even if it is all Grandpa’s guitars. If Eluveitie continue down this wooded road, I cannot blame them. But if they twist this level of folk to their metal roots, they could occupy a space separate from heavier bands like Ensiferum and Equilibrium. Evocation II made Eluveitie interesting again. Whether that leads them to make interesting metal again remains to be seen.


Rating: 3.0/5.0
DR: 6-11 | Format Reviewed: ~270 kbps mp3
Label: Nuclear Blast
Websites: eluveitie.ch | facebook.com/eluveitie
Releases Worldwide: August 18th, 2017

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  • Huck N’ Roll

    I prefer the new Cellar Darling album (Murphy/Sutter/Henzi’s new band) to this. More mainstream metal with folk embellishments rather than the opposite.

    • Piet

      I’m not digging Cellar Darling’s poppy sound tbh. I like Fire, Wind & Earth but then tracks like Avalanche feel so dumbed down you would almost expect it on the radio.

      • Ironwood_Druid

        Yeah Cellar Darling is waaaaayyyy too Pop. It was cringeworthy at times to me, but to each their own I guess to whomever enjoys it. It just felt like they looked at Call of the Mountains from Origins and said, “How can I make a more radio friendly version of that 10 times?”

        • Huck N’ Roll

          I enjoyed most of it, but definitely radio-friendly. That’s not always a bad thing. In this case it certainly shows where the divergence in band philosophy was though eh? “We want to write a hit record!” “We want to lure sprites and wood nymphs!”

      • itsmydamnation

        I totally love Fire , WInd and Earth, best song on the album by so far. I wish the entire album had the same aggression and passion.

        Eluveitie have all ways been a 2 or 3 songs an album band for me, i’ll guess all get another 2 or 3 songs out of this one too.

        What i really crave is another Krampus Album. The first one was a monster of pure awesome!

        • Piet

          Have you heard the singles Krampus brought out since? Paralysis and Butterflies on Fire? I highly enjoyed those tracks but I know a lot of people don’t like the change in sound.

          • itsmydamnation

            yeah they didn’t do it for me sadly :(

  • André Snyde Lopes

    I was going to say “I liked Origins” but I cannot remember a single thing about it… I did like Helvetios, their 2012 release but Eluveitie’s discography is a garbled mess in my head. I’m probably skipping this one…

  • Yolo Swaggins

    Meh. Maybe if I knew what they were saying I’d it more.

    • I’m surprised to hear this comment from someone on a metal site. So much metal is in languages we don’t speak or screamed/growled such that we don’t know what they’re saying. I’d have expected everyone to be ok with that by now.

      • Dr. Wvrm

        Unless it’s in Japanese*

        • GardensTale

          Ahem. Galneryus.

          • Nukenado

            Galneryus ist Krieg!
            Krieg with shiny, neon colored oversized swords, that is…

      • Yolo Swaggins

        Well, to be fair, I do listen to metal generally for the sound and language doesn’t usually matter to me. But the music isn’t doing much for me, so good lyrics can alter my view of the music, but as I have no idea what they’re saying, I can’t turn towards that perspective. Hence why I commented what I commented.

  • jjohn

    Eluveitie is like Arch Enemy with folk instruments. Very safe and boring sound. I think I’ll skip this one too….

    • Nukenado

      One of the most interesting things about Arch Enemy is that despite being a very bland band, most other things the members are in are fucking awesome.

      Sometimes I wonder if these big bands are afraid of failing flat on their face and just try to not be creative.

      • Eli Valcik

        Right!? Like their guitarist is a beast

        • Nukenado

          Oh yeah, Michael Amott is one of the most prolific guitarists in metal history. Just Carcass alone gives him huge credit.

          • The Akerstache

            Hell, they have Jeff fuckin Loomis now, they are beyond ripe with talent. Makes their continual mediocrity even more disappointing.

          • RuySan

            Jeff Loomis is way overqualified for that job.

          • The Akerstache

            It’s like Gary Holt in Slayer. We know that the material would improve ten-fold if they let him write, but for whatever reason they are content to keep treading the same road over and over again.

  • Dagoth_RAC

    I really enjoyed Helvetios. If you removed the folk elements, it would have been one of Dark Tranquillity’s best albums. And that is generally the defining aspect of any kind of hybrid metal album for me. Could it stand on its own as a metal album? If no, the hybrid elements (folk/symphonic/whatever) are just there to spice up and distract from a bad album. If yes, the hybrid elements (folk/symphonic/whatever) can legitimately enhance an already good album.

    But Origins just felt uninspired and bland and generic. Putting a folk sheen on bad metal is still bad metal.

    • Tom Swinnen

      Exactly! Well put!

    • Eli Valcik

      Totally agree. I don’t like my folk poppy either so for me it’s “meh” folk + bad metal.

      • Reese Burns

        Poppy folk and Viking folk don’t do it for me. I’ll take Grift over Fintroll and Eluvative any day.

        • Mattias Niklasson

          Well I’d take Grift over almost any other contemporary metal band. However if you haven’t already, I recommend listening to Ur Jordens Djup or Visor om Slutet by finntroll. I think those albums manages to keep the cheese at a manageable level.

    • Christian Krüger

      Exactly my thoughts on the rating, I’d differentiate a little more though. On Helvetios (which is my favourite) the Folk elements are not only an addition of the metal stuff. However, I agree, despite of King, which is one of their best songs ever, Origins is quite generic. The Nameless makes an epic intro though and The Call of the Mountains wasn’t original, but a good song at least.

  • sir_c

    Red hair and green foliage make a nice contrast.
    Oh what? There was a song playing?

  • Piet

    I have to confess that I am a pretty big fan of Eluveitie so maybe that’s what’s preventing me from seeing the bad qualities of Origins. I thought it was basically a Helvetios part 2, which is still one of my favorite albums. Helvetios takes the cake, that I do agree, but have you heard ‘From Darkness’? Killer track

  • OzanCan

    This album is like a nice breeze in a cool forest… oh yeah I am a fanboy and I love it! :)

  • I actually would have preferred to see where the new lineup went in the metal realm first before this came out, but at any rate I think the shakeup could do them some good; Origins was definitely stale.

  • Randy Lam

    Has noone else noticed the cover….I can’t NOT see it anymore….

    • Nag Dammit

      Are you suggesting these fine upstanding people snuck a picture of a vagina onto the cover of their album? For shame dude.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        That’s not an uterus there, no way!

  • Ironwood_Druid

    I know it’s an unpopular opinion around these parts, but I have always been a huge fan of Eluveitie, and I have enjoyed both their folk and their harder stylistic escapades equally. I, for one, have also been waiting for a Part II of Evocation since the first one came out, so I’m pleased with this.

  • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

    There are 9 persons in the picture. I haven’t listened to the album yet, but what the hell do they need 9 people for?

    • DIMENSIONAL BLEEDTHROUGH

      Ska?

    • Tom Swinnen

      Hurdy-gurdy player, bagpipe player, etc etc… Folk is hard work.

    • HeavyMetalHamster

      It’s the metal version of Arcade Fire.
      So they are probably french Canadian and need subs in case they get hurt playing their instruments.

      • Grymm

        I was gonna say either The Arcade Fire or Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes, and you beat me to it.

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Cult of Luna sometimes have 8 on stage……but they are Cult of Luna. …so they can do what they want.

      • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

        They better attract a good crowd because otherwise they risk having more people onstage than on attendance.

      • MetalMartin

        Gorguts are french Canadian…!

        • HeavyMetalHamster

          Yeah….but they are cool.

    • I in fact made this exact comment to Wvrmy last week.

    • Danny

      I would way rather have this stupid-huge lineup with real instruments then the backing-track dominated keyboard-folk of Equilibrium and their ilk. Works way better live in my experience. Hell, even the mighty Moonsorrow disappointed live with their over-reliance on the backstage laptop.

    • Norfair Legend

      4 people in scary tree costumes and one positioned as a bonfire?

    • FutureBeyondSatan

      They travel medieval villages looking for pick up baseball games. I heard Chrigel has a wicked slider.

  • I honestly think the best direction this band could take would be to ditch all remaining metal elements. Those are the worst aspects of their sound. Losing the growls alone does them huge favors.

  • Javier Truyol

    Sounds nice, has a good production and the new singer has a great voice, you can notice that in “Epona” or “Artio”, but there are so many filler songs and instrumental parts that i don’t think it’s a particulary memorable record..but anyway, better than Cellar Darling all the way…

  • Eli Valcik

    I absolutely love redheads but I find this music to be kinda shit.
    edit: I’ll just stick to my Wardrunas and Lumsks
    edit: and Windir (obviously)

  • Ghio

    Hah! Grandpa’s guitars.
    Why don’t I see more Metalocalypse references on AMG?

  • Tardsmat

    You had me at 18 songs in 53 minutes. Short songs are a breath of fresh air in the world of metal.
    Also, while we’re on the topic, does anyone have some recommendations for good folk only albums? I’m really enjoying this.

    • Kronos

      Nebelung.bandcamp.com

      • Grymm

        Nebelung are awesome.

    • Reese Burns

      Both Grift and Chiral recently put out acoustic EPs.

  • Master of Muppets

    Not metal enough. I damn this entire site to Hell and demand to know of a safe space where this can never happen to me again, because I am entitled to such and only care about anyone if they’re agreeing with me.

    • ssorg

      This sounds like one of my posts. kudos!

    • Grimstrider

      *GASP!* The rare and endangered Metal Snowflake in its native environment! ;-)

      • Master of Muppets

        KILL IT WITH FIRE!!!

  • Austin Lovell

    Didn’t know Eluveitie had a new album coming out. Stoked to hear this. I actually really enjoyed their last album and still through it on from time to time. They throw on a hell of a live show too.

  • herrschobel

    stüpid music this is

  • madhare

    But does the flute guy still have that one melodie he’s been piping on every Eluveitie song so far. (One of the main reason why I can’t stand them.)

  • The Unicorn

    I don’t like the new gal on vox, but more hurdy gurdy never hurts. http://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/ee45a80da8913fd7034db4a996f7ab6f0cde5ea21e5655cf0832e0d6210b75bf.jpg

  • Ondřej Hanus

    EPIC battle scene with as many as 10 dudes.

  • Innit Bartender

    All right, in a Fairport Convention rating system, is this more Liege & Lief or more Rosie?

  • garion333

    “Welcome to another edition of Angry Not Metal Guy.”

    Aren’t they all anymore?

    • Tyson Mclane

      Amen all these reviews end up being one whiny “metal fan” who has a hard on for BDM and only BDM. I’m so sick of BDM fags ALL over the fucking place.

  • Danny

    What’s with the hate for Origins? Less consistent and cohesive than Helvetios surely, but you can’t deny that From Darkness and King are two of the bangin’est tunes these forest dwellers have ever put out.

    • Jan Trębacz

      I actually liked Helvetios the least. Origins is decent… They could never match Slania though – until now! ;)

  • False

    Sounds like if Shakira tried Metal.

  • Jan Trębacz

    “If Eluveitie continue down this wooded road, I cannot blame them. But if they twist this level of folk to their metal roots, they could occupy a space separate from heavier bands like Ensiferum and Equilibrium. Evocation II made Eluveitie interesting again.” My thoughts exactly!!! In fact, this is an excerpt from my yesterday’s FB post on Eluveitie’s page:
    The whole album flows so well! It is a musical journey indeed! … On the whole, I must say this is probably your best album up to date and I kinda wish you could stick to this sound – or at least made much more space in your death metal for quiet, reflective moments where Fabienne’s unearthly voice and the ethnic instuments which make you unique can truly shine. Well done, Eluveitie! You have finally outdone Slania.”

  • Mattias Niklasson

    I used to be really into Eluveitie, but over the last two years or so I’ve only returned to the Early Years, Slania, Evocation 1 and some individual tracks from other albums. I’ve only listened to Evocation 2 once, but I’m afraid it won’t be one I return to. While the production might be dynamic it feels way too clean for folk music, perhaps I’ve just listened to too much Sol Invictus lately heh

  • Tyson Mclane

    Slania, will always be the best, but this with the opening of Epona, oh my. This is nice.

  • Eryops

    Late to the conversation, but I’ve always liked Eluveitie much more in theory than in practice. First and foremost were the vocals. If Crigel keeps away from microphones on this one, it can’t help but be better. And I just don’t see the appeal of Anna Murphy. She’s very dime-a-dozen to my ears and when she started wearing makeup and “sexy” clothes in their later videos, everything went to jokeland for me. I’ll give this an honest listen, although I’m liking what I’m hearing so far.

  • Rick Capranica

    Anna Murphy’s new project Cellar Darling is well worth a listen…and a review