Thursday, August 21, 2014

Eluveitie - Origins

This month saw the newest release from folk-metal big shots Eluveitie. This is their sixth full-length record, entitled Origins.

Eluveitie are one of the most frustrating bands in metal, if you ask me. No, scratch that. They're one of the most frustrating bands in metal if you ask a lot of people. Back in 2008, just as folk metal was reaching its tipping point, Eluveitie hit the world's ear-holes with their sophomore effort Slania, a record that instantly established them as one of the most exciting bands in the explosively growing sub-genre. Since then Eluveitie, Finntroll, and Korpiklaani have probably (though it can be hard to tell for sure) been the three most popular folk metal bands in the world.

Yet not one of the band's subsequent releases has lived up to that high standard. As one record after another came along, it became clear that their attempts at recapturing that moment had taken the band from redundant to outright stagnant. For years they've enjoyed all the popularity a folk metal band could ever hope for without progressing in any meaningful way, transforming in the process from folk metal legends in the making to merely a decent band with one great album. The worst part, though, is that they seem to have all the talent they could possibly need, but they just don't do anything with it.

So, two full paragraphs after the intro, we finally get to the actual album in question. By now, you may think you have a general idea where this is going, but you're wrong. Unfortunately, you're not wrong in a good way. For all their passionless, unambitious redundancy, the last few Eluveitie albums have all been basically okay. Sure, they're all just "Slania  but worse," but they've all been listenable collections of average material. Even 2012's utterly pointless Helvetios  could still claim to at least be inoffensively mediocre. Origins, on the other hand, is the band's first record that I would personally call actively bad.

The melodeath streak they've always had has widened, littering the music with every bad quality associated with that sub-genre while skirting the good like an albino dodging sunlight. The clean female vocals have taken on an expanded role, delivered in a fashion that makes me wonder if Flyleaf is still popular enough to be worth imitating at this point. Any folk elements exist entirely as window dressing at this juncture: there because the band requires their aesthetics, but no longer rooted in the music in any deep or meaningful way. Basically, it sounds like a shitty alt-rock band's bus crashed into the world's least genuine Eluveitie cover act, and all the broken pieces fused together into an amorphous blob of violins and mascara that belched out an album.

Maybe their last couple of releases really have been this bad too and I just didn't see it because I was blindly holding out hope, but I can tell you for sure I have no interest in going back and checking. There's naught down that road but tears. For years, I've waited for Eluveitie to show that they were just in the midst of a really long dry spell. I'd hoped they would re-emerge into greatness, like the Ben Affleck of folk metal. But now they have truly taken the plunge off the deep end and proven themselves to be, as Full Metal Attorney called them way back in March of 2012, the M. Night Shyamalan of folk metal instead.

Grade: D


  1. I just love this review. Love the bus analogy especially.

    1. Seriously I reread that sentence several times and I can't stop laughing. That is literally the only thing that ever needs to be said about this album.