During the campaign of than Roman General Julius Caesar in 58 BC he was met with a Celtic tribe known as the Helvetii who lived in what is known as Helvetia or modern-day Switzerland. Folk-metal band Eluveitie (pronounced El-Vey-Ti) hail from this region and have released their fifth studio album Helvetios and is their fourth under Nuclear Blast. Eluveitie was formed as a studio project by Chrigel Glanzmann but decided to make it a full fledge band consisting of 10 members but dwindled down to 8 members over time.
With Helvetios, Eluveitie has crafted yet another album chock full of metal mixed with folk melodies and instruments. Helvetios is a full concept album and is the first for Eluveitie. It deals with the Gaulish Wars of the Roman Empire from the perspective of the Gaulish people and more specifically of those from the Helvetia region. The album starts with Prologue and is exactly what it sounds like, where we get spoken word monologue of a man describing a scenery of war and death. When the title track hits the listener is bombarded with a catchy folk melody thanks in part to the use of real folk instruments like the hurdy gurdy, flutes, and all other assortments. One of the things Eluveitie does best is mixing Gothenburg-era Melodic Death Metal reminiscing of bands like say Dark Tranquillity with folk instruments like fellow folk brethren Korpiklaani. Songs like The Seige or Meet the Enemy shows the juxtaposition between the two genres and Eluveitie able to blend the two seamlessly without sounding overbearing.
As compared to their other works Helvetios seems like a continuation of their sound from their last album Everything Remains (As It Never Was). One difference is the rawness of Chrigel’s growls where it can be seen in songs like The Uprising. Anna Murphy’s vocals has always been unique as compared to other female vocalists and Helvetios is no exception where songs like A Rose For Epona we see the band strip down the intensity a bit and let Anna’s vocal take charge for the majority of the song. Then there is songs like The Siege where Anna uses a bloodcurdling scream in a few sections giving the song much more depth and intensity. The guitars seem on Helvetios to be more complex this time around where the riffs are much memorable and pushed more into the front balancing out the folk instruments and complementing them.
Despite some subtle changes in Helvetios, Eluveitie does suffer from blandness at times, this however is very common in Folk-metal as the genre doesn’t give much room for innovation and therefore not a big deal for fans of the genre. Helvetios is a great album and marks Eluveitie as one of the premier bands of the genre.
Helvetios’ track listing:
05. Santonian Shores
06. Scorched Earth
07. Meet The Enemy
09. A Rose For Epona
11. The Uprising
13. The Siege