Album Review: Lead – Not Follow by Cruadalach
Posted by RiffRaff
After the big explosion of Folk Metal hitting the metal realm a handful of years ago a deluge of bands trying to cash in on the wave hit the scene, some are good, some not so good. All in all, I’m happy that explosion hit because I think that folk metal is one of the most fun and unique sub-genres in metal, and well, the more the merrier. Now that the scenes height of popularity has passed and the survivors are continuing to make a name for themselves as pioneers in the genre, it’s nice to know that there are still some quality folk metal bands popping up here and there nowadays making folk metal for their own reasons instead of trying to cash in on a fad. The Czech Republic’s Cruadalach is one of those bands and their album Lead-Not Follow is a Celtic Folk Metal delight.
One gripe I tend to have with a lot of folk metal bands is in the harsh vocals. Often times the harshness of the voice really clashes with the delicate folk instrumentation and pulls me out of the mood the music is creating. Now, some bands can pull the thundering harsh vocals off great (see: Moonsorrow, Eluvietie, Equilibrium), but the majority, not really. It’s a fine line to walk. On Lead-Not Follow vocalists Jan Vrobel and Aleš Cipra walks this line wonderfully. Floating between death metal growls, black metal screams, choral bellows, and plain old singing the multi facets of their voice consistently work to complement the melodies they create in the instrumentation. “Nezlomní” shows this off great as a duo of low death growls and chants work in tandem to compliment a Celtic melody that flows into Middle Eastern melody driving the song before a visceral black metal scream segways the tune into a boisterous bag-pipe led Celtic ‘jam’.
The use of live instruments is also of note as the bands 8 members use their set of traditional folk and metal instruments in a wide variety of ways. Some song such as the opener, “Dubh”, carry a great Irish Celtic vibe. Tunes like the ballad “Morrigan” get a boost from violin/cello sounds giving it a nice melancholic Scandinavian feel and songs like “Signal Fires” have a distinct Eastern Europe, heroic feel to them. There’s even the ritualistic track “Blejanje Na Mjesec” which borders on Scottish and Irish with its great bagpipe playing and chanting paired with a tribal drum beat that feels very Native American. So, throughout the entire record you’re going to get a great diverse mix of great folk metal, which is always welcome in my book.
If you need a good folk metal fix I highly recommend Lead-Not Follow. Between the excellent musicianship, catchy and mainly cheerful folk melodies there’s a lot to enjoy about this release. For a minor label band the production sounds great and well recorded. If you dig bands like Avven, TÝR, Eluveitie, or Suidakra this should be right up your alley. Come for the folky tunes, stay for the crushing metal. Enjoy! Peace Love and Metal!!!
Release Date: November 11th, 2011
Record Label: Black Bards
Nationality: Czech Republic