Irdorath – Ad Astra (2012) Review



Do you believe in love at first sight? I do! It happened several times actually. But it has been a while since anybody blew me away so completely as the Belarussian band Irdorath. What? You thought I was talking about my love life? Nooo, I wouldn’t want to swap my lovely girlfriend with anybody. It was actually her who started this new ‘crush’ by pointing me towards Irdorath’s amazing ‘performance’ at this year’s Castlefest home edition. Recorded at night in the forest, Irdorath totally WOWed me. And I wasn’t the only one. The whole stream exploded from all the amazed reactions: -Who are those guys!’ -‘They sound amazing!’- ‘What a cool set up!’ -‘Please bring them to Castlefest next year!’ -‘I love them’ That was the tone of the stream during their half an hour set.
A couple of lucky viewers that had already seen this impressive band on German festivals or the Dutch Middeleeuws Winschoten festival gladly confirmed they had been as impressive live as they looked on that video. And I had only one thing on my mind: Get their albums in as fast as possible, listen to them, and introduce this amazing band to you all. Soooo, This is Irdorath!!!


Irdorath’s story also begins as a love story, with bandleaders Nadezdha and Vladimir meeting each other as students, not only to start a medieval performance group but also to become a couple. (They even married on stage, but I’ll come back to that in a later review) In 2011 the two drop their day jobs, move to Minsk, and start turning an abandoned building around to a performance theatre for historical events. Early on in the project, Anton Shnip joins in and the basis of Irdorath is formed. At the start the trio focuses on a catchy mix of typical German-style medieval music with a real dance feel, a powerful mix of rauschpfeife, bagpipe, chalumeau, and fast upbeat percussion, littered with orchestral moments and intense tender breaks in the music.

From the start it’s obvious that Irdorath don’t do subtle. The intro is as theatrical as you can expect from a medieval performance street art group. A thunderstorm opens the CD with a lone bagpipe leading us into the music. A loud musical BANG introduces a huge film score type of choir. And then we are off. Cool dance beats get your feet going immediately. A catchy bagpipe melody leads your brain into its happy state and the film choir returns for maximum impact. There are worse ways to start an album, trust me. Listen to opening track Rondo and you’re hooked. Permanently!

The second song, Scudrinka, is a Macedonian traditional dance that got the same Irdorath treatment. The acoustic drums give the song a lovely groove. Fast, powerful but really danceable. The strong sound of the bagpipes and rauschpfeifen, so typical of the German style of medieval music (think of bands like Corvus Corax or Prima Nocta ) sticks in your brain like glue, but its the Eastern European flavour that makes this music so interesting. Where a true German-style medieval band, like Corvus Corax, can seem to be just loud and in your face, Irdorath’s music is much more diverse and dynamic.
Sure, Irdorath can sound exactly like Corvus Corax. A song like Bard’s Tale or the midtempo ‘waltz’ Saderalladon would do well on any MPS festival, but there is much more to their music. That sudden break in Scudinka for example, where suddenly the wall of sound drops down to a single beat and an exquisite eastern guitar or sitar melody. Really cool. In general, their sound is also lower than I am used to. Less ‘shrieking’ and percussionist Anton puts WAY more groove into his drumbeats than a regular German-style band would do.



With the 5th song Tourdion, the musical adventure truly starts. We leave the German medieval festivals and go to the East. Another film score type intro sets the mood, and sure, the start of the song is what you would expect, rauschpfeifen playing that all too well-known medieval tune, (with a beautiful orchestra under it by the way), but this wouldn’t be Irdorath if there wasn’t a twist. Suddenly Nadezhda, with nothing else than a simple piano, takes the whole thing down. As if John -music was my first love- Miles suddenly takes over. The orchestral section that follows is so powerful. This is by far the most impressive, most grand version of this medieval classic that I ever heard. This song alone proves how good Irdorath are as musicians and arrangers. Truly stunning. And they have no problem stepping it up another few notches live on stage, adding a 4-piece ‘choir’ to this 2015 live performance. How I wish I could see this being performed live myself, if only just once.



That’s the true strength in Irdorath’s music: their arrangements. The space they leave in their sound. Although they often work with two bagpipes (with rauschpfeifen attached to it in true German medieval style); powerful drums; a powerhouse of a voice; and that rich deep sound of the Slidgeridoo sometimes appearing, they are able to give their songs room to breathe. Be it in interesting musical breaks with sudden twists; clever stereo effects and well-chosen placement of the instruments in the sound; or those Eastern European influences effortlessly blending in their sound. Even in those power sections, Irdorath manages to sound ‘acoustic’ and that is what I love about them. That and the variety in ideas.

Did I mention a slidgeridoo and a powerhouse voice just now? Yep, in Ketri we hear both of them prominently for the first time. The song itself is Irdoraths interpretation of a Romani love song, and it takes the band even further away from that initial German Medieval style, deeper and deeper into Eastern Europe, even into Turkish music at some points.
In Cypridis In Vito the band uses those cool stereo effects and even some Medieval-type choral singing, before they throw out the whole musical rulebook, blending all the influences I mentioned before in one cool, typically Irdorath song.

Ad Astra is an album that is almost impossible to describe. It starts as a German-style Medieval party and ends as an Eastern European/ Arabian/Mongolian pagan folk-rock opera. The song Ad Astra is a pure treat for those who love upbeat experimental power folk music.

If you like your folk music Celtic, gentle, and peaceful you might want to tread carefully. But if you’re up for an adventure, and your record collection contains music from bands as varied as Dead Can Dance (especially their 1990 album Aion); Prima Nocta; Corus Corvax; Jimmy Page and Robert Plant at the time of their No Quarter album; Irfan (just listen to the title song Ad Astra for some beautiful typical Irfan magic), and yes even Ayreon (listen to those electric guitars suddenly appearing in Nupla Nu Te Lasa), then definitely give this wonderful debut album a try. You’ll be hooked. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Cliff

Editor: Sara
pictures and video’s: Irdorath

Irdorath – Wild (2017) review



The second review I’m posting of Irdorath is actually their third CD called Wild. Where their first album, Ad Astra, is their ‘dance’ album, and their second album, Dreamcatcher, is their alternative-rock-meets-ethnic-folk record, this one is their most in-your-face album yet. You could say on Wild their metal side is coming out, although the band themselves prefer the term fantasy-power-folk. And I do understand that. Metal, as a term, is so limiting for the music Irdorath recorded on this album. Just as on Ad Astra (2012 ) and Dreamcatcher (2015 ) Irdorath is exploring a big part of Europe’s musical folk world again. A world that, on this record, this spans from German medieval sounds through Spanish guitar music into eastern European music. From the waves of the Caspian Sea to the vast deserts of the Mongolian steppe. If you love your music powerful, diverse, and prog metallesque, you are in for a treat.


Just as on Ad Astra, a cool, theatrical intro leads you into Irdorath’s musical world. A world that compared to Ad Astra is much wilder and darker. The biggest difference is in the drums. Where Ad Astra had a groovy dance beat, the double percussion on this album leans much more towards metal.
Take the opening track Varazheya for instance. If I didn’t know any better I would say that I hear a double bass drum there. And a super tight at that. With the strong eastern feel of the track a comparison with the Tunisian metal band Myrath quickly comes to mind. But as I said, Irdorath’s music is even more complex, even Leaning towards prog-folk metal. And the most impressive part, just like Coppelius they manage to get that strong wild sound using acoustic instruments!!!! Really impressive, and really clever. Using the strength of the acoustic rauschpfeife; the chalumeau; double percussion; and the power of their bagpipes (made even louder by attaching rauschpfeifen to it as Corvus Corax and Prima Nocta do as well), the sound is so much more dynamic. So much clearer as well. The lack of distortion means you can hear every single note, giving the music a totally different ‘strength’ and depth of sound and power than a true metal band would. Irdoraths clever use of violin and cello arrangements throughout the CD even enhances that.

Like I said, the opening song Varazheya feels like a musical uppercut. The band sounds like a pack of wolves somewhere deep in a dark and ancient forest and not about to take prisoners. As Nadezhda sings in the end: ‘You wanna howl? Howl!



Zhahi-Zhazi, although slightly slower in pace, has the same intensity. Again the songtext tells you everything you need to know. Translated, the song is called horrors-horrors, and the first lines go:
Children spend the night in the woods
where the trees roam,
And someone’s eyes are watching them from the shadows.
Children watch the fire and glance into the darkness.
Who hides there?

Do I need to say more? Musically I would call Zhahi-Zhahi a strong mix between the acoustic traditional folk music of the Belarussian ethno-folk band Troitsa and the extreme power of Myrath, but in acoustic form. I would define Irdorath’s music as ethnic-progressive-power-folk-metal-played-acoustically, and Zhahi-Zhahi is the perfect example of what that sounds like. Especially the instrumental part that starts about 1:33 in this song is absolutely amazing. That is also the point the band goes way beyond the limitations of metal music. An absolute stonker of a song.

Black Flags is the last of the power folk songs that open this CD. It is also a song that will be extremely popular with our German pirate friends. A sea shanty on steroids, on mega steroids actually. And then there is that chalumeau, sounding like a church organ to give this ‘pirate’ song its own unique Irdorath twist. You cannot help but be dragged in by this ocean epos. Bring out your dead, hoist the black flag and storm the seven seas! Black flags!

The fifth track Storm is the first instrumental piece on this cd and the catchy melody played by the rauschpfeifen makes it an instant earworm. Starting out as another power folk song the arrangment quickly turns full string orchestra, proving the point that Irdorath plays soooo much more than ‘just’ metal on this cd. It transforms this power folk tune into something truly epic. Stunning stuff.



Kupala na Ivana starts a capella (although shortly) and it gives me the opportunity to go into one of Irdorath’s biggest trump cards. Nadezhda’s epic voice. It is big and it is strong. She has lungs made of steel and these big lungs are the reason she can easily hold her own against the five other bandmembers in this beautiful power ballad.
Five? Yes, Irdorath is now a 6 piece band. Besides long time members Nadezhda on vocals, bagpipe, hurdy-gurdy and rauschpfeifes; Vladimir on bagpipe, slidgeridoo, chalumeau, vocals and throat singing; and Anton Shnip on Drums, percussion and vocals, we also have Valery Priyomko on drums; Pietro Marchenko on guitar, twelve string bouzouki and vocals; and Julia Viten on violin. All equally talented and equally important in the sound of Irdorath. But the main star on Kupala na Ivana is Nadezhda. It doesn’t matter what the band throws at her: Powerful drums, the strength of the bagpipes, even a full orchestra, Nedazhda just blows them away with the power of her voice in this wonderful ballad. This song has it all. Just listen to those beautiful arrangements. Going from subtle to full power folk ballad, from a capella to full orchestra. Together with Storm, Kupala Na Ivana is one of my favourite songs on Wild.



Looking at the lyrics I wouldn’t be surprised Irdorath worked with a clear theme on Wild, and the music, indeed powerful and wild, followed out of that.
I’ll be honest, this will not be everybody’s cup of tea. And it wasn’t meant like that either. This album is a hurricane caught on a compact disc, and it wants to come out!. A musical storm hitting you right in the face! And just as I love to walk in a storm, lean against it and enjoy the beauty of mother nature at her full strength, I love this album too.
For all of you who share my love for powerful music like Ayreon, Prima Nocta, Myrath, Edvard Grieg’s Hall of the Mountain King, Coppelius and, ….well.., Irdorath! Can’t wait for the next storm to come!

Cliff

Editor: Sara
Picture and videos: Irdorath

Irdorath – Dreamcatcher (2015) Review



The last review I’m going to upload now is actually Irdorath‘s second album, Dreamcatcher, released in 2015. Why do I post this one last then and not second ?? Well, I want to end this introduction of Irdorath’s music with a bang and this, for me personally, is their best album, even though I am now comparing two great records with an A+ album. Dreamcatcher was released in 2015, after Piotr Marchenko (guitar, twelve string bouzouki), Anastacia Filipenko (violin, cello), and Alexandra Aleksiuk (Violin and cello) joined Irdorath in 2014. The record is the logical bridge between the medieval dance folk Irdorath played on Ad Astra and the fantasy power folk they played on their last album Wild. It is more easily accessible then Wild, an album that might be a bit too ‘powerful’ for some of our readers. It also ticks about every box you could tick for me personally, making Dreamcatcher one of the best records I heard in a loooong time, but let’s stop chatting about it, let’s just dive into Irdorath’s musical world one more time.
Where the CD Wild starts as a full-force hurricane that hits you without warning, the title song on Dreamcatcher starts much more gently. A lovely alternative pop-folk song. Cool mouth harp, percussion with a smooth groove, and a beautiful bouzouki riff building up to a very impressive instrumental start of the song. Lovely orchestra arrangements take you into this nice and catchy pop-folk ballad. A song that again proves that Irdorath knows how to write a good song. They are all catchy, well arranged, and just dotted with all the interesting twists, breaks, and influences that make good music truly stunning.

As Bas is slightly faster in rhythm, and again an interesting alternative acoustic folk-pop/rock song. I know I keep coming up with these weird descriptions in all the Irdorath reviews, but that is actually a compliment towards the band. They have such a unique own style. And it all blends together so naturally. A pagan folk hurdy-gurdy together with a slidgeridoo and a slightly Spanish sounding guitar to start the song? Sure, no problem. A bit of melodic rap to continue with? Yes, why not. A bit of an Arabic feel combined with a slidgeridoo? In the Irdorath world, sure, and the result is catchy as hell.



Tam Nikto is the first of two beautiful ballads, showcasing Nadezhda’s powerful voice for the first time but also Anastacia on cello. I love how those two blend together. the warmth and power of Nadezhda’s voice and the warmth of the cello. Such clever songwriting, such clever arranging, I really love this band in so many ways by now. I love, for instance, how they pick up the speed halfway through Tam Nikto and make this song into a real grand musical adventure. This is songwriting at its very best. Forget about labels and names and styles. This is just 6:00 minutes of beautiful, well-composed music everybody – and I do mean everybody – should hear.

The same goes for Kryly, the second stunning ballad on Dreamcatcher. I’ve been in love with this song since the first time I heard it. Even without knowing what it is about (my Belarussian is a bit rusty) I could just feel how much this song means to Nadezhda. The intent is just pouring out of her with every single note she hits. With the lyrics it gets even better for me. Nadezhda writes most of the lyrics for Irdorath and these must have been one very close to her heart. A song that so deserves to be a true classic pop song.



But, there are more classic moments on Dreamcatcher. Take tracks six and seven, simply called Wedding Theme 1 and Wedding Theme 2. Well…, these were actually composed by Vladimir and Nadezhda for their own wedding! A wedding that took place……, ON STAGE!!!
I hope you don’t mind I won’t tell you any more about these two songs than that. Just watch the video below. The intimate moment at two/third if the song says soo much more than anything I could write. (I didn’t even know you could kiss while playing bagpipe 🙂 )



After all this romance and all these ballads its time to pick up the pace a bit and get our dancing shoes on again. Tochka Otscheta is just he song for that. A lovely groovy Slidgeridoo takes you into this Omnia -meets-Arabian-nights type of song that is both a dancing song AND a ballad. It is also the first time you clearly hear Vladimir use his Mongolian throat singing skills, adding yet another dimension to Irdorath’s diverse musical world.

And there is still more. Byu. Josť. Budu that suddenly takes you into the world of Ball Noir. Especially that hurdy-gurdy ‘riff’ could easily have been written by Lies Sommer or Marco van Asperen. Nadezhda shines on vocals again here, but also Vladimir’s spoken vocals are something special. Just another highlight on a CD that already has so many. Again, the way they build up this song to its climax gives me goosebumps. Really, and not for the first time while listening to Irdorath’s music, I have to add.

Tango is a lovely way to end this CD. Another epic ballad, in English this time, building up to a lovely finale. What an A-M-A-ZING CD.
But I’m not finished yet. I have saved the best for the very, very last, and I’m going to end with this as well. I am not going to bother to write a full conclusion. I think that conclusion is pretty obvious by now. Dreamcatcher is a stunning alternative pagan folk-rock CD that you just MUST have in your collection.
Instead, I’m just going to insert one final video of my favourite song on this CD. My favourite song by Irdorath, even. Crank it up as loud as you dare and enjoy. This is Irdorath! This is music everybody should hear. Not just us in the scene! No EVERYBODY! This is instant goosebumps on a disc! This is Dimna Juda! And I LOVE IT!!!!!



Cliff

Editor: Sara
picture and video’s: Irdorath
Guest vocals on Dimna Juda: Alexandra Grachovskaja from the Belarusian Nu metal/punk/folk band BY CRY

Grumpy O Sheep – East of Talisker (2020) review



The first time I heard the band name ‘Grumpy O Sheep’ I immediately had pictures of some bearded, old Irish blokes in my head. I imagined a band which sound would come close to the Dubliners, rough and tough Irish folk music with a pint in the hand and a tear in the eye. When I heard the album for the first time I was convinced iI heard a Spanish band playing! I even wrote it down: ‘Cool that a Spanish band plays Irish music in this way. Cool that they call themselves Grumpy O Sheep, I love that sense of humor.’ But…, I was wrong again! First of all Grumpy O Sheep aren’t Spanish, they are French, and secondly, they are not a band, they are a duo.
Grumpy O Sheep 2 – CeltCast reviewer 0!
The biography of Grumpy O Sheep is short but sweet. They are Lu (violin) and Boss (guitar, flute) from the departement of Belfort ( a province in France near the Swiss/German border), who formed an Irish-Spanish folk duo in 2017. After doing a concert tour through France they started recording their first album East of Talisker, which came out in the spring of 2020. That is about it. Not that I mind. A review should be about the music anyway and trust me, there is a LOT to say about Grumpy O Sheep’s music. So let’s jump right in.

And ‘Jumping right in’ are the right words here. Opening track Say’s Gi features all the things that make Grumpy O Sheep’s sound so special. A perfect blend of Irish style violin taking the lead melody and a fiery Spanish style rhythm guitar, including the oh so familiar hand-slapping of the guitar body, taking care of the rhythm and beat. This is instant:’get in a good mood and start dancing‘ music. Say’s Gi is a compilation of three songs: Sight of Land, Humour of Castelfin and Temple House and they all marry so well together. The slight bit of Hall of the Mountain King woven in there as well is just the icing on the cake.

Say’s Gi is just a warm-up. There are way more good vibes to come! The flute and violin intro of Strawberries and Raddish instantly pushes the happy feel barometer up at least ten notches. Not to mention the way the rhythm guitar eventually crashes in for an instant party. So cool. This music just oozes out the cheer of Irish folk and the energy of Spanish acoustic music. And don’t forget the quirkiness of the French. That sudden wah-wah pedal on the Spanish guitar. I love that bit. I truly love it! Strawberries and Raddish is actually a compilation of the tunes Monaghan Jig and Drowsy maggie melted together. In their pure Irish form those tunes are already bursting with energy, add the Spanish rhythm to it and they become fountains of joie de vivre. That typical French joy of life.

With the third song Hunaman, the positive vibes go up one more time. Hunaman is a cover of the famous Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, and trust me, you have to be brave to take on such a song, and really skilled to pull it off. Well, Lu and Boss are both. As with most of Grumpy O Sheep songs, Lu takes the lead melody, – in the original song played by Rodrigo-, giving it a lovely, different, but equally catchy feel. And Boss is more than capable to take on Gabriela’s rhythm part. I love this version of the song; the use of the violin makes it just that wee bit more melodic; it sings just that wee bit more. Thumbs up guys.



East of Talisker is not only filled with fast-paced, energetic dance tunes though. Inisheer is the first calmer, balladesque song to balance it all out. The gentle fingerpicking guitar melody temporarily calms down the mood. Time for our first glass of wine in enjoyment of this wonderful music. The violin gives this song a real French feel. You can feel there is a real story hidden in these violin notes, memories of faraway places, of almost forgotten dreams. And Lu is bringing them all back again. A lovely song, reminiscent of the Dutch duo Wouter en de Draak.

With Sheeps Are Sailing we go deep into the Irish musical heritage. So cool to hear how you can make a violin sound French in one song, and then so clearly Irish in the next. It is as if it is speaking in a different dialect all of a sudden. The middle part of this song, with all its fun effects, makes me realize how well this CD is recorded. It is Fresh and modern, just like the music itself. Although you hear ‘only’ a violin and guitar, it is recorded in a way, which makes the music fill up the whole room. The sound engineer makes maximum use of the stereo spectrum and the microphones are placed so well that you can hear every single sound. Up to Boss’s fingers whizzing over the neck of his guitar, swiftly going from one note to the next. In my eyes the standard to reach when it comes to recording folk music is that of Fieke van der Hurk and the Dearworld studio. Well, the team recording East of Talisker nailed it. The album sounds equally good!



Gravel Walk, the song above, is proof of that. A tune so catchy it stays in your head for days, if you’re not careful, and the sound. That sound! Just listen to that guitar filling up your earphones. Making a lovely bed for that catchy-as-hell violin melody. And then that finger tipping against the violin body to keep up the beat!!! I just love this!! I just love the whole CD!!! I just love the energy oozing out of it even before I open the CD case!!!

If you want to bring home the fun of Irish music, the energy of Spanish guitar and the ‘Joie the Vivre’ of the French, done with the vibrancy, only two young really talented musicians can bring, free of spirit and not bothered by rules, then East of Talisker is the album to get. Grumpy O sheep is a duo of artists, of entertainers, theatre people, and street musicians bundled in one package, and I loved every note of it. Vive Grumpy O’ Sheep!

Cliff

editor: Anna
picture: Grumpy O Sheep



PS. I couldn’t help it. I had to add just one more video, because it is so quirky, because it is so well played, and because it says so much about the attitude this duo has to their music and life in general. Enjoy!

Cuélebre – Dijara (2020) review


It was a Sunday morning, the 7th of August 2016, about 10:00 in the morning. It was slightly drizzly and we – my girlfriend, the SeeD crew, me, and a whole bunch of other Castlefest die-hards – were sitting on the hill overlooking the folk stage, listening to the gentle sounds of The Moon and the Nightspirit, while watching the Sunday crowd slowly filling up the grounds again. The perfect way to start a Castlefest morning.
Next up was a Spanish band that I, up to that point, didn’t know. But that was about to change! Fast! Within two songs that band had the whole crowd awake and dancing and me going for my camera. (You can see one of the pictures I took then just below this paragraph)
That band was Cuélebre and their show worked better for waking me up than a liter of strong espresso would ever do! Obviously I bought their CD Oinos straight after the show and it is still being played monthly in the De Booy household. Especially the song Fodder for the Raven I consider a firm pagan folk classic.

What makes Cuélebre and that first album Oinos, published in 2014, so unique is their dark tribal sound; The deep roar of the didge combined with fast energetic drums, the dominant sound of bandleader Yhandros Huergo’s hurdy-gurdy combined with the haunting flute melodies flowing through the music like morning fog over the roughed scorched Spanish mountains. Oinos makes me think of the pictures I’ve seen of Extremadura; the barren black peaks, the vultures circling the sky, a bobcat sliding through the undergrowth. Cuélebre makes the perfect soundtrack for that landscape: dark, tribal, and passionate. The whispered, half-sung, half-spoken vocals of Marta Gálves made it all complete, making Oinos a unique sound in the European pagan folk scene.

In August 2017 Cuélebre released their second album Anaman, with only bandleader Yhandros remaining from the line-up that recorded Oinos. It didn’t change Cuélebre’s sound too much though. The biggest change were the vocals, the then ‘new’ singer Rose Avalon (Rose Avalon, Ritual Duir) has a background in jazz and melodic metal. Her voice made Cuélebre’s music more dynamic, more powerful, but slightly less ‘haunted’. The whole album has a more positive feel over it, without losing that strong tribal connection to the old Iberian tribes and the roughed Spanish landscape.

Now, finally, the long-awaited third CD, Dijara arrived and it is a stunner! Like I mentioned before, there have been some line-up changes in the last couple of years, mainly in the vocal part, and again I was really interested in how it would affect Cuélebre ‘s sound. Well, to answer that straight away: Dijara is the perfect mix of Oinos and Anaman, taking the best elements of both albums. What remained is the strong tribal feel, the fast deep drums, and the haunting shards of flute cutting, weaving its way through the deep didge sound and the everpresent hurdy-gurdy. The vocals on the other hand returned to the more chanting, shamanic style we know of Oinos, something I personally think suites Cuélebre’s music really well. I feel like Cuélebre’s sound is slightly ‘mean’ again, that rough edge is back in the sound. And I personally love it.
Leiko Kei Tratt, Derwa, and Karuo are such strong vibrant dancing tunes, they are bursting with power and energy. Deva and Tanit, on the other hand, are slightly slower songs with that familiar haunting tribal sound, reminiscent of Fodder for the Raven, my favourite song of Cuélebre’s first record.



So is Dijara an Oinos part two? No, not at all. Cuélebre took some huge steps forward since then. First off there are those vocals. They are mostly recorded double and although Judith doesn’t use the exuberant vocal capacity of Rose Avalon, she does put in a lot more melody than Marta did. Not that one is better than the other, they just use different styles and I happen to like them all. A lot of the time Judith’s vocals remind me of Faun, especially on songs like Keinoman, Deva, and Leiko Kei Tratt. And I have to say, it fits the music of Cuélebre perfectly.
Another thing that progressed a lot is the overall sound of the album. While staying true to the original feel of Cuélebre, Yhandros put a lot of effort into the end mix, making the album sound way richer, more dynamic, and far more powerful then Oinos or even Anaman. The best example is the song Macha, starting out as a mid-tempo song reminiscent of Fodder for the Raven, it quickly builds up to a full-on energetic dance tune, with the same powerful build up as Cesair’s Canzo. No mean feat.

Another example is Derwa, a strong pagan folk song, acoustic, but with a drum/didge rhythm that would work perfectly as the basis of a ’90’s Eurodance song. Really? Yes really! And the best thing about it? It works! Victor has a didge style, quite similar to that of Daphyd Sens, which works perfectly in such a ‘modern’ interpretation of a tribal pagan folk beat.
Another example of the strong mixing skills on Dijara is the ‘choir’, kicking in halfway through Leiko Kei Tratt, making this vibrant tribal dance tune sound even more impressive. because of that I consider Leiko Kei Tratt, together with Derwa, one of the strongest tracks on this impressive CD.

Adding everything up I can conclude that Dijara is Cuélebre’s strongest album ’til now. Strong, powerful dynamic, and tribal. If I am looking for comparisons, then the sound of Cuélebre nowadays makes me sometimes think of Omnia, especially their famous rhythm section: Daphyd Sens and Rob van Barschot. Sometimes small segments of the music remind of Waldkauz (just listen to the flute solo leading us into Karuo for instance), in the first songs especially the vocals lead me towards the older material of Faun, and even Brisinga’s impressive vocalists pop up one time as a reference (Listen to the spoken vocals on Macha, they are just as strong as Brisinga’s vocals on Sinä Ja Minä), but these are all references. Add everything up and the sound is 100% recognizably Cuélebre. With Dijara the Spanish band settles themselves firmly at the top of the pagan folk scene. Congratulations Cuélebre, you did all did a hell of a job on this one!

– Cliff



-editor: Sara Weeda
-picture’s:
1 Cliff de Booy taken at Castlefest 2016
2,3 courtesy of Cuélebre








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