There will always be examples of bands that fate hasn’t been kind to despite their hard work and professional approach. Suidakra is unfortunately one of those bands, but regardless of the size of his fanbase, the name of Arkadius has been linked to fecundity, quality music and progress. Having started the band as a black metal project with folklore elements, he has continued to develop this sound further in order to forge out one of the most musically successful, yet not so widely-consumed folk melodeath bands out there. That being said, Suidakra is not an exception from the painful “quantity vs. quality” issue which resulted in the bittersweet aftertaste that Cragacht left us with. Now, however, they have a chance to compensate that downfall and strike back with a solid piece of work called Book of Dowth.
This record is, well, German. Almost every typical German feature is present on The Book of Dowth, so it’s unlikely that fans of the band will have a hard time getting hooked on this one. With the sense of a detailed perfectionism and the feeling of a job well done, most of the songs are just as diverse as one would expect them to be, enriched by choirs of bagpipes that help create the impression of the mini-epics the band is known for. As far as the compositional side goes, it’s more likely that Suidakra are reaching back to the golden Caledonia epos than to Book of Dowth‘s sterile predecessor Cragacht. Arkadius himself scores up series of pleasant cleans, melodious riffs and convincing solos, in fact, for once he uses the entirety of his potential, which is something that we haven’t heard from him in a long time.
Despite the fact that the album doesn’t rely on the element of surprise, there are tracks suitable to keep your attention occupied for the long haul. Even a slight glimpse of “Feats of War” is enough to demonstrate the songwiting ripeness which the band reached throughout the years. What’s more, the lessons sound well-learned; whether by including haunting female vocals or playing lyrical revelations like “Mag Mell”, using acoustics or raising the tension in highlights like “Balor,” it seems that Suidakra are back in the game with a record on par with their greatest works to date. The sub-par and cliched songs from several years ago which spoiled what should have been future classics in their discography gladly make way for hymn-like neckbreakers, sufficient to leave the listeners in awe of the fabulous music and beauty of the record.
The main descriptive word for Book of Dowth might very well be “diversity.” It’s still incredible to think that after all these years, Suidakra remain true to their music without repeating themselves, regardless of the result. Despite avoiding abrupt musical digressions, their longevity seems to have been most successful thanks to a genuine mix of extreme metal and Celtic folklore. With this tenth record, Arkadius & co are finally free to write a new chapter in their magical world of fantasy and, fortunately, to come up with music that’s captivating enough to help us forget about our grim and boring daily routines.