Eluveitie is a band that has just consistently put out incredible material. They are one of those groups that are so eclectic, that each new album feels as if it’s a step above their previous work, with slightly more variety, while staying true to their identity. Led by multi-instrumentalist Chrigel Glanzmann, the band knows how to deliver an amazing album. Ategnatos, is exactly that.
The band has been producing albums on a fairly regular basis, (roughly every 2 to 3 years) with works that combined Celtic Folk Metal with some meoldic Death Metal, complemented with lyrical work filled with history and pagan tales. With that, Eluveitie has become one of the most beloved bands in not only the Folk Metal scene, but across many other metal sub genres as well.
Ategnatos could be considered a return to the band’s more metal roots as its predecessor, 2017’s Evocation II: Pantheon: was an acoustic effort, (again showing how flexible Eluveitie is in terms of musical styles.) Though I was a huge fan of that album, I was eager to see what the new lineup had to offer for a “pure folk metal” record.
With sixteen songs, it has to be said that this is a long album, and that kind a number can sometimes scare away a few casual listeners. However, Ategnatos is not an album that you want to do 30 second previews with, as it’s one of those records that you’re going to need, but also will want to do a full playthough on, even though it is quite massive.
The moment we hear the opening title track, we are set into the mood of the album in great fashion. Ategnatos kicks in with an epic introduction, with massive drums and cinematic orchestral elements that blend in seamlessly with folk melodies. The group quickly allows their modern metal influences to creep in, with the electric guitars adding a massive wall of sound. The mix is rich and filled with different elements, yet somehow the vocals are still clear and soaring, bring the right amount of grit to the mix, without taking away from the melodies.
Deathwalker is one of the many highlights of the album, and I think it’s a track that showcases the very elements that make Eluveitie tick. It’s a delightful combination of the melodic and heavy elements that makes this band so great and is one of the strongest tracks that you are going to find here. Next we have a certain musical contrast to what we have heard so far with Black Water Dawn, with a much more melodic approach and a vocal performance that I would dare to say that is a bit soothing due to that siren-like style.
The Raven Hill, seems to have a bit more rhythm to it, which makes it stand out from a lot of the other tracks. I have a feeling that this is going to be a fan favorite, as its extremely catchy, and seems like a great sing-along track that’s going to play well in front of live crowds and new listeners.
Ambiramus is one of the more melodic tracks that the band is knowing from throwing out from time to time, dressed up as a metal anthem. The soothing vocals bring in a different mood to the track after the outburst of the introduction, almost exploring a rock ballad mood. The choruses are truly astonishing, and it is incredible to hear two voices that are so dramatically different, yet so perfectly attuned to one another. This is definitely one of the most distinctive and flavorful songs on the entire release.
Mine is the Fury really showcases Ackermann, who kills it on this song (and in the album as a whole) as his drumming is quite solid and to the point, which of course is something that any great band requires. Eluveitie have a knack of knowing when to shift things in their albums and that makes for a much more pleasing experience, because you never know what to expect. That’s something that shows that this is a band of great talents.
While I’m on the subject of musicianship, Michalina Malisz has been an absolute savage on the hurdy gurdy. What’s even more impressive, is her back story on learning the instrument, by essentially being self / internet taught, in such a relatively short amount of time.
Also on the album are we’ve got songs like The Slumber, which reminds a bit of the vocal approach of bands like Epica, by the way in which combine their mix of harsh and clean vocals, thus achieving a more dramatic and contrasting result. Threefold Death is pure and thriving Death Metal track, which makes for a very amazing change up, adding more to the great pacing that the album has.
Rebirth was, I suppose you could say the first “true” single from the album. The track kicks in with a blistering tempo and an aggressive take on the band’s edgy sound. The fast-paced riffing on the electric guitar makes way to a cool flute riff and a sludgier tempo. The verses have a bittersweet vibe as well, alternating ethereal melodies with sonic atmospheres that seamlessly soared up from the lowest depths of hell. The song is so remarkable because it is so complex, yet so immediately catchy and easy to relate to!
Worship is a bit biblical, a bit Edgar Allan Poe, a bit twisted nursery rhyme, a bit Randy Blythe, and a whole lot of fucking awesome. It begins with an eerie spoken word segment, before morphing into a song that makes me think of a marching horde of demons coming to unleash chaos and destruction, marching their way to the nearest city. This is one of the darkest, most aggressive songs not only on the album, but that the band has ever done. Yet it still retains so much of that perfect melodic wit, which makes the band’s formula truly one-of-a-kind.
Being such a long album, these are some of the biggest highlights and just a few moments of the whole experience; they complement the work with several interludes between tracks that have a certain cinematic flair to it. All of these elements combined make for a very compelling album; Ategnatos shows a band at the peak of its powers and one that is capable of delivering quality music in multiple different styles with the simplicity of a group of very seasoned musicians.
You put on some new albums, and you are really stoked about seeing a band you love putting out new material. Then, there are those rare records that will shake your foundations of what you though “perfection” meant in terms of what the band has achieved through the scope of their career. Eluveitie’s most recent studio effort might very well be one of these releases.
What makes this album truly special is that the band didn’t just focus on creating detailed sonics and beautiful arrangements with every song. They actually took a step back to be able to see the broader picture, and really managed to focus on the album as an overall stylistic. The setlist and the transitions between songs are engaging and completely spot-on, turning this album in a comprehensive journey, a fantastic experience for listeners to savor from the get-go.