When I hear someone mention a band with nearly as many active members in its ranks as the starting lineup of a baseball team, I immediately think of that one band from Des Moines (which is, honestly, the worst kind of buzzkill). There is always the risk of biting off more than you can chew when trying to incorporate so many musicians/instruments into an album, not to mention trying to balance everything on the stage. To be successful, song structures and performances need to be top notch, and memorability is key in keeping all the layers of instrumentation from becoming stale.
Italian-based Furor Gallico have three good things going for them: 1) they didn’t name themselves after a knot that 12 year old boys tie to impress/horrify their mothers following the annual Boy Scout Jamboree, 2) they can play the shit out of instruments like the Celtic harp, tin whistle, low whistle, piano, and bouzouki, and 3) these dudes have a knack for writing and playing this folk-laden style of metal. Taking their name from the term coined by the Romans to describe the blood-thirsty nature of the Celtic warriors, this octet cracks open the cocoon cast by their Furor Gallico debut and opens their wings to explore a greater range of folk and power in their sophomore release, Songs from the Earth.
Furor Gallico did a great job of mixing a structure of Eluveitie and Ensiferum with the upbeat-feel of Korpiklaani and the subtleties of Blind Guardian folkery. While Furor Gallico was a great release, Songs from the Earth produces even more substance and uniqueness as it delves deeper into its Celtic influence. “The Song of the Earth” is a concise representation of the album’s heaviness and Eluveitie-an character as it tin-whistles its way into a heavy, melodic riff fronted by death growls reminiscent of Amon Amarth. “Nemàin’s Breath” ups the ante with a massive drum intro and a catchy, Celtic “groove” that precedes heavy riffs, beautiful violin passages, and an outro of fast-paced, Korpiklanni-inspired majesty. “Wild Jig of Beltraine” has a similar midsection of acoustic guitars, violins, and whistles; however, it also incorporates some memorable gang chants and clean vocals that give additional sweetness to the mid-paced guitars and drums. While not overly unique next to material from acts like Ensiferum, Eluveitie, and the folkier numbers of Nightwish, this is some pretty good shit.
“Squass” and “Diluvio” are the standout tracks on Songs from the Earth. Not because they’re the best tracks on the album, but definitely unique ones. Like many of the other ditties on Songs from the Earth, “Squass” alternates between speedy folk gallops and slow interludes, but it stands out like a sore thumb as it dabbles in some jazzy bass licks before joining the ranks of Korpiklaani’s “Happy Little Boozer.” Conversely, “Diluvio” is a quasi-ballad that’s completely dependent on the arsenal of instruments in the band to provide its strong chorus and more Celt-isms than you could shake a sword at. Personally, “Steam Over the Mountain” rubs me in all the right ways. Nothing is better than a groove-filled riff tinged with thrash and a folking (yep, I did it again) chorus that brings to mind something Samael would have written for their Reign of Light album.
Not the best or worst production in the world, Songs from the Earth is what you would expect from a folk group like Furor Gallico. Musically, it’s also something you would expect from a band in this segment. But they do it well and play their hearts out. If you’re into this sort of thing, I highly recommend this nearly 50-minute trip into Celtic-inspired Italian folk metal. If Songs from the Earth is any indication of what Furor Gallico are capable of, I’m excited to see where they go from here.