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Artist: Eluveitie Album: Helvetios

Year: 2012
Duration: 55:17

A Critical Review of Eluveitie's Helvetios: An Exploration of Folk Metal

For those unfamiliar with the band Eluveitie, they are a folk metal outfit hailing from Switzerland. Their sound incorporates various folk instruments, from hurdy-gurdies to bagpipes, with heavy guitar riffs and growling vocals. In 2012, the band released their sixth studio album, Helvetios. As an avid listener of folk and metal music, I recently revisited this album and felt compelled to write a critical review. In this post, I'll dive into the history of Eluveitie, the music genre of Helvetios, the best songs on the album, the most innovative parts, and my thoughts on the album as a whole.

To begin with, let's briefly go over Eluveitie's history. The band formed in 2002, and their name roughly translates to I am Helvetian in Gaulish, a language spoken in ancient Europe. Their music is heavily inspired by Celtic mythology and history, and the use of traditional folk instruments sets them apart from other metal bands. Eluveitie has gone through several lineup changes over the years, but founding member Chrigel Glanzmann (vocals, mandola, whistles, and pipes) has remained a consistent force in the band's sound.

Now onto Helvetios. The album is a concept piece, telling the story of the Helvetian War, in which the ancient Helvetian people fought against the Roman Empire. The music style of Helvetios is a fusion of folk and melodic death metal, with acoustic interludes sprinkled throughout. Some standout tracks on the album include A Rose for Epona, a beautiful acoustic ballad with haunting vocals, and Havoc, a headbanging track with intense riffing and a driving rhythm section.

One of the most innovative aspects of Helvetios is the use of ancient Gaulish language in the lyrics. While many metal bands use fictional or mythological languages, Eluveitie draws from their cultural heritage to give their music a unique flavor. Additionally, the incorporation of traditional folk instruments adds a layer of authenticity to the music that would be difficult to achieve with only guitars and drums.

But with any album, there are criticisms to be made as well. Some tracks on Helvetios can feel repetitive, with similar sounding riffs and vocal patterns. Additionally, the concept of the album can feel a bit heavy-handed at times, with the narrative taking center stage over the music itself. While this may not be a problem for some listeners, it can detract from the overall musical experience for others.

All in all, Eluveitie's Helvetios is a strong album that showcases the band's unique blend of folk and metal music. The use of traditional instruments and Gaulish language adds a level of creativity to the album that sets it apart from other metal releases. While there are criticisms to be made, overall, Helvetios is a solid entry in Eluveitie's discography and a must-listen for fans of folk metal.