The second review I’m posting of
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
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
they manage to get that strong wild sound using acoustic instruments!!!! Really impressive, and really clever. Using the strength of the acoustic
double percussion; and the power of their bagpipes (made even louder by attaching rauschpfeifen to it as
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
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
Prima Nocta, Myrath,
Edvard Grieg’sHall of the Mountain King, Coppelius and, ….well.., Irdorath! Can’t wait for the next storm to come!
Picture and videos: Irdorath