By Jonathan Smith
Swiss band Eluveitie have reappeared with a new offering that is being billed as “an acoustic album” that is the first of a two-part concept series. Despite the use of the term “acoustic,” Evocation 1 is far from having a minimalist folk sound. There’s a lot going on here, with both female and male vocals sung mostly in what is apparently the Gaulish language, catchy drums, acoustic guitars, and a variety of traditional instruments. Most of the tracks are presented as being as epic in scope as any metallic and electric effort, and as a result the album is definitely not presented as something that serves as a relaxing break from a more metal catalogue. However, there isn’t much variation on many popular formulas to be found on this outing. Meri Tadic’s vocals are cleanly sung, with the mostly growled male vocals provided by Chrigel Glanzmann serving as a weary and clichéd counterpoint. The moments when tired stereotypes like this are broken are welcome, and it’s a shame they don’t come more often. Even when sticking within clearly established folk metal boundaries, however, a track like “Omnos” comes along and provides a shot in the arm to keep the album from becoming lost in its own lush textures. Overall, with its combination of traditional sounds and slight modern electronic touches, Evocation 1 – The Arcane Dominion provides an interesting glimpse as to where folk metal can take itself.