Eluveitie- Ancient music given new life
The Slania Era Band
Of Fire Wind and Wisdom from the Spirit Album
Eluveitie is a band of musicians from Switzerland. Because of the difficult pronunciation of the band’s name, they’ve been required on numerous occasions to explain that it’s pronounced “El-Vay-Tee”. One could spend hours arguing on the nuances of the band’s influences. Many people say they are progressive rock, others say death metal, others say folk music.
It’s most commonly accepted that the band specializes in Celtic folk metal. The first formed in 2002 and spent much of their time touring various venues through Switzerland and its surrounding states until 2006, when their first album entitled “Spirit” was released. Their success was quickly ensured thanks to their eclectic mix of various sounds and instruments used.
Originally, Eluveitie was meant to be a collaborative band, meaning that various musicians appeared to play parts in one or two songs before leaving the stage to allow others their own time in the spotlight. This was the case when they released their early 2003 demo “Ven”, which made use of seven musicians who were, unfortunately, never to be heard from again on any of the band’s later albums.
The ringleader, lead singer, and songwriter, Chrigel Glanzmann, started the band, envisioning an amalgamation of traditional Celtic instruments with modern day heavy metal guitar and drums. To that effect Chrigel plays the mandola, gaita, pennywhistle, pipe-flute, acoustic guitar, and bodhran when the situation calls for it. He also sings in a combination of modern-day English and Gaulish, an extinct language used by the early Swiss tribe, the Helvetians, for which the band is named.
In addition to instruments played by Glanzmann, the current band consists of seven other members: Meri Tadic provides high-ranging vocals and plays the violin, Merlin Sutter is a drummer of ferocious strength and stamina, Simeon Koch wails on lead guitar with Ivo Henzi to back him up, Anna Murphy plays the hurdy gurdy, Kay Brem plays bass guitar, and Pade Kistler bats cleanup with the bagpipe and pennywhistle.
It should be noted that several key members of the band have since moved on. The metal brother team of Sevan Kirder, who played both bagpipes and Ulian pipes with absolutely incredible breath control, and Rafi Kirder, who raged across the stage with a low-slung bass and kilt, baring his full-body Celtic tattoos for all to see, left the band citing creative issues with Glanzmann shortly after the second album “Slania” was released in mid-2008.
For the discerning music lover, one will notice a slight difference in sound between the Spirit-era Eluveitie and its Slania-era counterpart. This may be due in part to the absence of Sarah Wauquiez. This talented young woman produced mid-level vocals in a surprisingly even tune when she wasn’t grinding away at the hurdy gurdy, playing the crummhorn, or working the Helvetic Accordion.
Normally with such a huge combination of instruments one would think the only thing they can produce with any degree of regularity is an almighty racket. I certainly thought so when I heard of them, but when I heard them, I happily ate my words. Give them a listen, and I leave any further decisions up to you.
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