Cruachan - Blood for the Blood God

Cruachan Blood for the Blood God cover
Blood for the Blood God
Trollzorn Records
One has to give it to Cruachan, for not giving up. They have been through incredible hardships, they have been through line-up shifts, they have changed their musical style, from an extreme folk metal with harsh male vocals, to a clean sounding folk with female ones and recent years saw them return to their original sounds and they almost were left high and dry, a few years and a couple of albums ago, when some amazingly irresponsible person, who still roams freely, instead of being sent to jail, after having shafted a cd pressing plant with his record company and then 160 companies with his “distribution” company, stealing their CDs, left them to face running studio charges for an ongoing recording completely unpaid, while previously having promised to cover them, when his company folded, from bad management decisions. So the sole fact that Cruachan are still alive, is a testament to their strong belief in what they do. More power to them for that.
As previously mentioned the band had transitioned from a very primal black/folk style, into a pure female fronted folk in the mid-00s but after the parting with their singer on amicable terms, the style slipped more and more towards the bands original style, with a lot of extreme metal influences, counterbalanced by the ever present folk influence. Being indeed the bands seventh album “Blood for the Blood God” (a reference lifted from War-hammer lore, that has however directly been influenced by Irish lore) is one of their better efforts in terms of production, an issue that seemed to plague their earlier works, but has seemingly been resolved in the past few albums. The band, manages to achieve a decent sound that all the additional folk instrumentation liven up considerably, while the harshness of some arrangements and the vocals, create a contrast that makes the result sound a lot more “pagan/heathen”.
“Crom Cruach” is a short melancholic intro, which paves the way for the title track “Blood for the Blood God” a blackened paean to battles fought long ago and their dead.
“The Arrival of the Fir Bolg” is a lot more swift in its execution, a lot more wrathful and a lot more folk-sy, with its constant use of bowed instruments and even a totally “soft/clean vocal interlude”.
“Beren and Luthien” seems to be a Tolkien inspired story, with the immortal elven maiden Luthien and her love  for Men Beren who was commissioned steal back a Silmaril from the forces of Darkness if he wanted to wed the elven maiden… it’s more theatrical and tragic as it’s source lore, trying to musically mirror the story's grimness.
“The Marching Song of Fiach Mac Hugh” is a nice jig, with a marching rhythm and even some strong female backing vocals – now I did notice some more, throughout the album, but here, they seem to be used quite prominently, provided by a certain Barbara Allen, that sounds rather fitting to the whole “style” ie not a million miles away from that of Karen Gilligan.
“Prophecy” is a dark brooding epic, with lots of bowed instruments being used throughout, that musically seems to carry on the melodies from before, but it’s a lot more “Blackened” and brutal.
“Gae Bolga” is a beautiful and spirited instrumental, with awesome Celtic melodies unfurling at every corner. Named after the spear the spear of Cúchulainn one of the greatest heroes in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology, it features some of the most awesome melodies in the entirety of the album.
“The Sea Queen of Connaught” is the tale of a female Pirate and it’s another spirited epic, that goes through a lot of different moods, tempos and vocal styles to tell the tale!
“Born for War (The Rise of Brian Boru)” is rather more standard, as is a slow moving affair, that tells of the actual (historical) tale of this Irish king who ended the domination of the High Kingship of Ireland by the Uí Néill, the preceding dynasty that held dominion over Ireland to eventually become something like the first real King of the “entire” lands, after much fighting!
Finally there’s “Perversion, Corruption and Sanctity – (Parts 1 & 2)” lasting in total around 10 minutes (evenly divided), a duo of tracks that seem to combine softer, more somber moments with, violent outrages and sudden instrumental bursts to accommodate their storytelling needs.
Overall, it’s a fair album by the band, which doesn’t avoid being a little monotonous in places, but grows to be quite enjoyable after a few listens. Fans, shouldn’t have a problem following the band, although, I must say, I did prefer them somewhat, less “harsh”. Long may they endure in the face of adversity.