Slania was the album that catapulted Eluveitie’s “new wave of folk metal” from the Swiss mountains to the world stage. Their music seamlessly blends hurdy gurdy with distorted guitars, guttural roars with folk chants, and death metal riffs with traditional melodies. After numerous albums and line-up changes, the passion project of Chrigel Glanzmann (vocals, composer, whistles, harp, mandola, bagpipes) is still going strong. To celebrate its tenth anniversary, Slania is being re-released, with the little Celtic warrior girl on the cover (the eponymous Slania, a name that Glanzmann saw on an ancient tombstone) now grown into a woman. There are a few added extras which will keep fans tided over while the band record new material, while also giving us an opportunity to revisit this landmark album.
Eluveitie (an Etruscan word referring to Switzerland) hark back to Europe’s Celtic past, evoking a world of druids, pagan Gods, and lives ruled by the forces of nature. Many of their songs are sung in Gaulish, and the band go to great lengths to achieve accurate pronunciation and translation. This unique aspect of the band has spawned a multitude of academic papers by musicologists and linguists, since it raises fascinating questions about the nature of authenticity. The songs’ subject matter is meticulously researched, too; the song titles themselves have led many down many wormholes in search of the stories behind Luxtos, Epona, Brictom, Lvgvs…
Fast-approaching 30 million views, this is the video for “Inis Mona”.
Slania is themed around the seasons, with one instrumental interlude for each of the four main festivals in the Celtic calendar. Beginning with the sound of a crackling fire to herald the coming of winter (the intro to “Samon”), this is an album of breathtaking confidence. Eluveitie is on the heavy side of folk metal; it has often been pointed out that if you took away the non-metal instruments, they would sound like a standard Swedish melodic death band. The riffs, blast beats and screams are on full display in Slania, with most of the songs on the heavy side, including “Primordial Breath”, “Bloodstained Ground” and “Tarvos.” Despite its heaviness, the production is crystal clear, allowing all the instruments and voices to shine equally. Glanzmann’s fearlessness in doing exactly what he wants to do is, arguably, the key to Eluveitie’s uniqueness and success. Whether or not you find folk metal a bit cheesy, there are few bands that can switch between pure female voices, guttural growls, druid chants, thrash guitars and Uilleann pipes, whenever the hell they feel like it. Not to mention cram nine musicians onto the stage.
The biggest draw of Slania is the anthemic “Inis Mona”, about the druid Isle of Anglesey, which is ridiculously catchy and displays Glanzmann’s harsh vocals at their most expressive, though there are a few other strong tracks scattered on the record. As well as the album proper, there are over twenty minutes of extras, six of which consist of an interview with Slania herself. She speaks in enthusiastic Gaulish (with a translator) about her ten-year journey through Gallia, the Swabian territories, the northern lands and Santonian Shores, protected by her “parents”. There are no real revelations in her answers; Slania’s interview is a conceit to highlight the band’s clever use of the Gaulish language; an interview with band members themselves might have been preferable, but it’s still pretty cute. There’s also an acoustic version of “Samon”. The original demos of four tracks (including “Inis Mona”) don’t add much, and are for die-hard fans only.
Check out the second of two Slania [10 Years] official trailers.
Eluveitie last released a single in October 2017, “Rebirth”, which saw them return to heaviness after the interval of Evocation II, and they have promised a new original album soon. In the meantime, the Slania re-release is a welcome opportunity to appreciate a band that are an important part of Switzerland’s musical identity.
Slania Track Listing:
01. Samon 1:49
02. Primordial Breath 4:19
03. Inis Mona 4:09
04. Grey Sublime Archon 4:21
05. Anagantios 3:25
06. Bloodstained Ground 3:20
07. The Somber Lay 4:00
08. Slania’s Song 5:40
09. Giamonios 1:23
10. Tarvos 4:38
11. Calling The Rain 5:06
12. Elembivos 6:31
13. Samon (Acoustic Version) 1:28
14. Interview with Slania 6:00
15. Samon (Demo) 1:46
16. Primordial Breath (Demo) 4:39
17. Inis Mona (Demo) 4:30
18. Bloodstained Ground (Demo) 3:13
19. Tarvos (Demo) 5:00
Run Time: 75:17
Record Label: Nuclear Blast
Release Date: November 16, 2018