Album: Nine Years of Blood
Release Date: 27th April 2018
I can never go wrong with a bit of folk metal, and was informed by The Folk Metal Grove that this release was arriving, so I had to have a listen. Nine Years of Blood is a concept album of the war between the Irish and the English in the late 16th century.
The track opens with the instrumental I Am Tuan. There is a storm and rain, with acoustic guitar and strings. The drums and electric guitars kick in to provide an epic atmosphere. The strings come in to lead the melody, with the drums accompanying, then the guitars come in and harmonise. Hugh o’neil – The Earl of Tyrone comes in heavy and harsh, it’s almost black metal in style. There is a calmer interlude with flutes, but it comes in hard and heavy again at the end.
Blood and Victory has a lot of tension in the track. There are clean vocals in the buildup. Queen of War has a strings intro which leads into clean vocals. There is a much slower tempo to start with, then the tempo picks up, adding more strings and harsh vocals to the mix. There is a bass interlude, and the guitar and drums kick in before the main instrumental kicks in again. The Battle of the Yellow Ford begins with battle sounds, horses whinnying. There are strings, then heavy drums. It provides a dramatic introduction to the track. The track is very dramatic throughout, with alternating clean and harsh vocals. Personally I’m not as keen on this track, but I can hear the struggle in the song as the battle may have been.
Cath Na Brioscai has a more folky feel to it, with the harsh vocals back. There are some really heavy and fast sections, but there is a nice string breakdown and a calmer drum and guitar instrumental. The Harp, The Lion, The Dragon and The Sword changes tack, with a male voice chanting the title of the track, then the instrumentals become heavier, and you can really headbang to it. There are folk melody bridges with strings, and then a little more tension comes into the track. There is a folk melody breakdown, and the track comes into a section ripe for jigging and dancing.
An Ale Before Battle is a short, less than 30 second track of tavern noises. Fire, glasses clinking, and talking. This leads into Nine Years of Blood, with flutes and guitar. It’s an folk ditty, you can sway and tap your feet to it, and a drum and bells come in around halfway through.
The Siege of Kinsale begins with strings and clean vocals, and then the harsh vocals take over. The instrumental becomes one you can headbang and dance to, and there is a long jiggy instrumental section part way through the track. The Flight of the Earls has an almost Witcher-esque feel to it with the style of the strings. There are clean vocals to start, but then the main part of the track kicks in and it’s dancey and headbang-y, the way I like my folk metal. The harsh vocals also kick back in. The album ends with Back Home in Derry. It is exactly what you think of when you want an Irish folk song gone metal. This track has all clean vocals, and you can headbang and dance to this track like crazy.
I’m a little ashamed that I haven’t listened to Cruachan before. I feel like Irish folk metal is a little overlooked in the metal scene, with most of the better known folk metal bands hailing from Northern Europe. This is certainly an album I will be listening to again, and if you haven’t had the chance to check these guys out yet, you should!
Buy Nine Years of Blood: https://shop.napalmrecords.com/cruachan-nine-years-of-blood-cd.html