Saturday, 5 March 2011

[ALBUM REVIEW] Dalriada - Ígéret

1. Intro
2. Hajdútánc
3. Hozd el, Isten
4. Mennyei Harang
5. Ígéret
6. Igazi Tûz
7. Kinizsi Mulatsága
8. A Hadak Útja
9. Leszek A Csillag
10. Leszek A Hold
11. Outro

Bands like Dalriada don't get much of a chance when in comes to the mainstream media. Apparently only two female fronted bands have ever existed of any worth, so when someone new crops up, they get compared to one of those two bands, Arch Enemy or Nightwish. With the press these days you'd think no-one else existed, and I'd stagger a guess that Dalriada are nigh sick on comparisons to Arch Enemy. Why? Because they happen to have a female frontwoman who growls. The truth is, Dalriada couldn't be any further from the sterile melo-death travesty that Arch Enemy have become. If you want a somewhat accurate representation of their sound, Russian counterparts Arkona would be a good comparison, but even comparisons to them are doing Dalriada a disservice, as they began a full four years before Arkona under a different guise, they just never seemed to get the breakthrough they deserved. Ígéret is, believe it or not, Dalriada's sixth studio release! That begs the question “Why have I never heard of them before?”, which is a question I presume many people will be considering. Many reasons maybe but I imagine being stuck on a tiny unknown Hungarian label with fuck all publicity doesn't help your case a lot. So with their latest effort they finally have a bit of a platform from which to get their stuff out there with AFM records, and it's not before time because Dalriada are just as good, if not better than Arkona.

A meadow of poppies and daisies. Doesn't exactly scream metal does it? Then again Dalriada aren't exactly metal's most masculine band. Satanic warriors and true defenders need not apply for Ígeret's roots are firmly buried in Eastern European tradition and the type of folk music Korpiklaani are infamous for. At times it's hard to keep straight-faced throughout the album, whether that's due to the overwhelmingly brazen and cheery attitude or Laura's unintentionally amusing clean vocals (which I've grown to love) I'll leave that open for debate. I'm not going to lie, I laughed when I first heard “Hajdútánc”, the way Laura delivers those clean vocals, it sounds almost like a karaoke version of the Numa Numa song, not least helped by the fact I haven't the faintest clue what she's singing about.. It's the type of thing if your mate walked in on you listening to, you'd turn the volume down as quick as you could to avoid any embarrassment. After repeated listenings though the song grew on me a lot. In-fact so much so I'd say it's up there with my favourite songs of the year so far. That chorus, one exposure and you're fucked, trying to get it out of your head is like trying to get rid of the clap. Then add on a fret tearing solo and you've got a formula you literally cannot go wrong with. This is one of (unfortunately) the few songs on the album where Laura utilizes her harsh vocals consistently, which is a shame because they're brilliant when they do appear and put so many of her male counterparts to shame. Think Masha from Arkona, they're pretty much identical.

Setting the amusing opening vocal lines aside, the rest of the clean vocals throughout the album are actually very good, especially on “Hozd el, Isten” and “Kinizsi Mulatsága”, though at times tend to suffer from a lack of variation. And back to the subject of Korpiklaani, Jonne performs guest vocals on track ten, which is the best thing he's ever put his vocals to, which wasn't really a tough feat to be honest. Metal-wise the album is firmly in power metal territory with the upbeat melodic guitar riffing and bridge-chrous structure, Andras and Mátyás contributions should not go unnoticed, along with Laura's vocals and the vast array of folk instruments are a major contributing factor in keeping the whole light-hearted vibe with the album.

They've come along way since the primitive beginnings of Fergeted, the development in the song writing and their ability is remarkable. With songs such as “Hajdútánc” and the title track, Igeret could well be a legitimate treatment for depression. Animated and with a wild, ragged enthusiasm, Ígéret finds that difficult balance between eccentric and serious, pompous and flamboyant. They sit firmly in the middle of both Korpiklaani school of “drink till you pass out” folk and the rather more subtle route of Arkona and Skyforger. Strongly recommended to all fans of folk out there, Ígéret is a damn fine effort by a band who are due some press, and with this album they just might get it. Drink, strange dances and instruments you never even knew existed, it's got to be Eastern European folk metal right?



Originally written for Archaic Magazine

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