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Album Reviews : Eluveitie – Ategnatos

By on March 14, 2019

In April, folk metal legends Eluveitie will release their eighth full-length album Ategnatos, supported by an Australian tour in May. My immediate impression of the album was that it reminded me of the early Eluveitie albums, in particular, Spirit and Slania. There is an intensity to this album, with heavy riffs cropping up on almost every song, yet the album is not afraid to slow down and revel in the atmosphere when it needs to. There is a sense of grandeur and scope to this album, which is lengthy without being boring, with the theme of rebirth woven through the album.

‘Ategnatos’ and ‘Rebirth’ bookend the album with similar themes (‘Ategnatos’ meaning ‘rebirth’) and a connection through the spoken-word intro to ‘Ategnatos’ that provides the chorus lyrics for ‘Rebirth’. ‘Ategnatos’ is an excellent opener, with the chanting lyrics denoting the epic scope of the album while ‘Rebirth’ features a blistering main riff and one of the best guitar solos laid down by the band. The album’s epilogue, ‘Eclipse’, continues this theming, with a slower, melancholy restatement of ‘Rebirth’s chorus, providing an atmospheric and moody closing to the album. It is hard to overstate the quality of this pair of songs; ‘Rebirth’ is perhaps the best song that I’ve heard from Eluveitie yet! Given that ‘Ategnatos’ and ‘Rebirth’ were the two singles selected to promote the album, it is unsurprising that they so clearly embody it’s theme, ensuring that the album never strays too far while not quite being a concept album in execution.

The songs in between are equally strong. ‘Deathwalker’ and ‘Black Water Dawn’ are fairly typical Eluveitie fare: catchy, heavy and folky. Again, a strong Slania vibe comes through on these tracks, but there are elements of their slightly-poppier, recent sound in the choruses. The chorus of ‘Deathwalker’ features a really interesting use of harmonic movement that sounds a bit different to how the band usually constructs chord progressions, which provides a nice character to the track. ‘A Cry in the Wilderness’ follows suit in terms of style, with a familiar pipe melody cementing that this is still Eluveitie. The next two full songs, ‘The Raven Hill’ and Ambiramus’ change gears into the catchier, folk-driven side of the band. ‘The Raven Hill’ has a very catchy opening with a strong dance vibe to it without being vapid while the infectious opening melody to ‘Ambiramus’ immediately draws the listener’s ear. Both of these songs are well place in the midst of the other, more intense songs, ensuring those who love the catchy and folky elements aren’t left in the cold. That said, the levity that infuses other similar songs on previous albums isn’t quite present this time around; there’s an element to both songs that remains quite serious and intense (though in a different manner to the other songs on Ategnatos) that ensures the general theme of the album is never lost.

The dissonant opening to ‘Mine is the Fury’ indicates another shift in atmosphere, a return to the intensity. The dissonance used throughout this song really tempers its musical character well, with some moments that lean fairly heavily on the ‘death metal’ aspect of melodic death metal, sounding like an evolution of the Eluveitie sound without losing its core elements. ‘The Slumber’ features a very fragile opening, reminiscent of Helvetios’ ‘Alesia’, featuring some beautiful vocal harmonies that make good use of the twin vocal styles. ‘Worship’ is another standout track, opening with a narration from Randy Blythe [Lamb of God] that is reminiscent of the Book of Revelations. The folk instruments are used to great effect here, creating a haunting, eerie atmosphere that is followed up by some intense riffing. At this point it is worth mentioning that the short instrumental/spoken word tracks on the album (‘Ancus’, ‘The Silvern Glow’, and ‘Trinoxtion’) are generally really well placed. They provide space between similar songs to reduce stylistic fatigue and augment the atmosphere well. Rounding out the album, ‘Threefold Death’ is an effective blend of intensity and melancholy, that builds a lyrical motif of ‘Will you remember me?’ throughout the song. ‘Breathe’ has a slow and melancholy vibe to it, balancing out the intensity of the album and gradually building toward to mood of ‘Rebirth’ that follows it.

Overall, Eluveitie have delivered an excellent album with Ategnatos. I think the most telling mark of quality is that I’ve been almost unable to stop listening to it in the two weeks or so that I’ve had it and I’m sure I will still be listening to it for much more time to come.

Band: Eluveitie
Album: Ategnatos
Year: 2019
Genre: Folk Metal
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Origin: Switzerland

About

Ben is a metalhead originally from Sydney, who has now moved to Hobart to pursue a PhD in Australian extreme metal. When not studying, writing about or playing metal, he can be found playing video games, browsing Reddit, knitting, fending off his cat or helping out at his local church.