By Ola Mazzuca
Swiss death folk leaders Eluveitie return with a rustic record of wood-burning, raw depth. Helvetios fuses century old elements with a modern metal tone that support each other like a horde facing battle.
The concept album begins with emotional, crisp commentary in “Prologue”, before storytelling on somber interlude “Tullianum”, creating a foundation for the graceful “Alesia”. Its focus on Gallic Wars is written from the perspective of the ancient Helvetii, a Celtic tribe that occupied the Swiss plateau in 1st century BC. Eluveitie’s approach to incorporating rich history with their music is impressive. They show aural traits of Scandinavia’s melodic death metal roots, especially on “Neverland” and bagpipe dominated thrash track “Havoc”.
Beyond the guttural vox of Chrigel Glanzmann and the elegance of Anna Murphy lies a true commitment to tradition. The band is successful in their mission of balancing distortion with thematic sounds of hurdy gurdy, violin and Irish frame drum, the bodhrán. The list of instruments doesn’t end there, proving Eluveitie’s skill in addressing listeners with unconventional practices.
The heavy “Uxellodunon” is high energy and festival-friendly before closure in a peaceful epilogue of narrative, rushing waves and wind. Helvetios could never be a novel, but an illustrated storybook as Eluveitie leave new fans and longtime followers alike with enough imagery to create a musical text.