I am a die-hard fan of Folk Metal, in particular Eluveitie, and attend every folky show on every festival. This being said, I was very glad to see Eluveitie once more on Summer Breeze. Not only could I enjoy the golden oldies, but I would also be able to pick up some of the songs from their new acoustic album Evocation II: Pantheon, the highly anticipated successor of Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion. But even with all the inevitable alcohol on the festival, I soon noticed that something strange was going on with these new songs. Afterwards, I got the chance to review the entire album in order to – hopefully – nullify my doubts.
Unfortunately, that aspiration didn’t entirely come true. Let me repeat that I am a die-hard fan, but that doesn’t mean I want to hear the exact same music over and over again. Evocation II: Pantheon consists of a patchwork of musical parts that were surgically copy-pasted from Eluveitie’s earlier oeuvre.
(WARNING: if you consider it a fun game to try and trace back those parts to the original song (as the band probably meant it to be), then please stop reading now. Either way, I definitely didn’t describe them all, just the most blatant ones.)
I first noticed this on Succellos II, but here it was nothing but a calm, serene and perfectly acceptable – even appreciated – wink to the older instrumental intermezzo’s on e.g. Slania and obviously the melody of the Succellos song on Origins. Nothing wrong with “back to the roots”! On the next song though, Nantosvelta, entire musical lines and themes from that same Succellos I are shamelessly copied without any added value, altered by a cheesy little melody that is the basis of the entire folk genre. Tovtatis and Artio are uninspired intermezzos without any musical value (monotonous recitation accompanied by an equally monotonous hurdy gurdy, atmospheric but soooo generic) and Grannos, too, zealously borrows from older work. The big hit on the album, Ogmios, is nothing but a medley of two of Eluveitie’s other hits: Inis Mona and Celtos. I get the whole idea of travelling through the history of the band, but this could have been done more creatively (there is a difference between referring and copy-pasting). It hurts me to say it, but it seems like Eluveitie doesn’t care that much about originality and quality anymore… I mean, the music is all well executed and stuff, but we already knew that they could play this. In fact, we already know that technically, they are way better than this.
On the other hand, there are also some face savers! Opening song Epona is an up tempo, hasty song that makes you feel like chasing freedom on horseback with waving manes. It is an energizing song and manages to remain interesting. Same goes for the last real song (as the outro Nemeton is nothing but an “aaaaah” in crescendo) called Taranis, which has a feel similar to The Cauldron Of Renaissance. Aventia is bulking with older Eluveitie and general folk elements, but is saved by a nice catchy country violin. Cernvnnos and Belenos are beautiful, calm and authentic songs, just gently referring to the oeuvre. Lvgvs is Eluveitie’s version of the universally known Son Ar Chistr (Wat Zullen We Drinken). Nothing wrong with that: they make it their own thing (and have been doing that since day one) and it is quite catchy. Esus and Tarvos II, the two antagonists on one of my all-time favorites Tarvos on Slania, are deliciously atmospheric. Esus is sensitive, sad, somber and gloomy while Tarvos II, with its high pitched bagpipes, seems to stem right from the middle ages (and it probably does). And then we have the two best, most balanced songs of the album. Caturix is an ecstatic, trance-inducing track with hurling and drums, yet accompanied by a melodic violin. In any case it’s something different than the rest, more resembling to the songs on Evocation I, but most of all resembling Wardruna… My absolute favorite on the album is the tender Antvmnos: original, creative, stylish, emotional but still powerful… In one word: balanced.
In conclusion, eight tracks sadly disappoint and ten songs turn out to be moderately up to very good. It must be admitted that the “copy-paste-tracks” are technically well executed, but it just feels só cheap! Thematically, it is nice that a whole bunch of ancient Celtic gods and their heritage are restored to their former honor, but since all lyrics are in – scientifically – reconstructed Gaulish, you can’t really make anything of their significance without an education or an encyclopedia (the physical version of the album will no doubt contain an elaborate commentary section though). Overall, the way I see it, it would have been better to leave the old songs at peace and to astonish the fans with some entirely new whirling material. The way it is now, it feels like Eluveitie didn’t want to put too much effort in collecting their fans’s money. As a fan since the first albums, I will try to pretend that Evocation II- Pantheon is a good album containing ten fun, original tracks. I encourage my soulmates to do the same!
Release date: August 18th 2017
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
3. Svcellos II (Sequel)
15. Tarvos II (Sequel)