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Review: 'Cruachan'
'The Hawthorn'   

-  Label: 'Despotz Records'
-  Genre: 'Heavy Metal' -  Release Date: '2nd October 2020'

Our Rating:
Seems I’ve been living under a rock and in a cultural vacuum my entire life. I mean, I’m fairly au fait with the myriad strains of metal, and am certainly aware of folk-metal as a thing, but the legendary status of Cruachan is something that has somehow bypassed me the 45 years I’ve been on the planet.

So new single ‘Hawthorn’, the first taste of their forthcoming ninth album, is my introduction to ‘one of the genres most revered acts’. No doubt many readers will jeer at my ignorance and wonder how I can possibly consider myself a music critic if I’m not familiar with the band’s extensive catalogue, which goes back to 1995, and all I can do is shrug. I’ll live.

The best thing about folk-metal is that it’s not folk-punk, and that it’s not especially common at festivals.

The premise behind ‘Hawthorn’ is genuinely interesting, the press release explaining that it’s ‘set in Ireland during the 1700’s when the population were heavily under the influence of the Catholic church while still holding onto old Pagan beliefs’. Since this isn’t the kind of history taught in schools (this seems to be pretty much limited to the Romans and WW2, although I’m happy to be told otherwise), it’s pleasing to see a band tackle such murky periods.

‘The Hawthorn’ starts with violin and whistle and sounds like so much pirate rock, evoking the spirit of ‘Black Sails’ but without the lesbian sex scenes. When the guitars kick in with crunching overdrive, it’s grimy, gritty, with a deep timbre that contains elements of Neurosis. But ultimately, it’s the flighty folk that wins out, and it’s all a bit too jaunty to convey harrowing history with real conviction.

  author: Christopher Nosnibor

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