“In the Halls of Our Ancient Fathers” is the second demo from Dublin based folk metallers Celtachor and comes with a free tin whistle. According to the frontman Steve, this is the mythology loving bunches first outing as “a band proper” and chance for newly appointed French femme Anaïs to give the drum kit what for.
With Celtic themed success kicking off all over the metal pantheon from long standing country mates Primordial to Switzerland’s popular Eluveite singing odes to folk who once used the severed heads of their enemies to adorn the house, it would seem relating some of the tribes less gory exploits is flavour of the month.
Celtachor have just over half an hour of transport us to a bygone era. At first it seems the time machine is faulty, as first track ‘Nemed’s Wake’ wouldn’t wake anyone up and features nothing more than synth sounds akin to an alien choir and the sombre thump of the bass drum. The black metal buzz of ‘Rise of Lugh’ cranks the machine into gear and the piping of a whistle, while reminiscent of recorder class in primary school assures that we have reached our destination.
Although the whistle playing is a little uneven, kudos must be given for bringing in the real deal rather than turning to a programmed alternative. Further kudos must be conceded as the vocalist and whistle chap are one and the same, and switching from a snarl to (attempted) sweet melody is no mean feat. It is here that the level of production rears its head.
As an independently recorded demo, the offering is certainly presented it raw form, this is wild boar cooked rare over a cauldron, millennia away from Heston Blumenthal and snail porridge accompaniments. The down side is that you can hear every breath the poor out of puff bloke takes. The instruments all get given their due, even the bass can be heard dutifully thrumming away, though the collective cacophony breathes so heavily down the neck of the pagan fire it almost puts it out.
‘Halls of Nuada’ features a protracted whistle intro, which is eventually superseded by simple black metal riffs that sound more like a revving motorbike than the thunder of hooves. Less is certainly more with the tin whistle as at not even the halfway mark it feels overused. ‘A Warning to Balor’ is the liveliest of the bunch so far and gets off to a promising start with some good old fashioned drumming. The guitar also gets airing and carriers melodic duties well on top of regulation chugging. The bass leads on into “Riders of the Formor” and proceeds pleasantly until the pipe squeaks in its two penneth. If a valuable lesson can be taken from this, it is to handle woodwind with care. Even established bands with impressive back catalogues can beleaguer otherwise good music with overzealous tooting. Temnozor’s “Урочища Снов [Haunted Dreamscapes]” being a painful case in point.
Despite the previous slanging of the whistle, in ‘The Sons Of Tuireann And The Blood’ it finally links arms and Cossack dances with the rest of the instruments rather than hurling itself above them with the ease and pleasance of an obese troll crowd surfing at a hipster gig. The band finally sound to have it together on this track. After an uncertain start final track ‘The Wavesweeper’ morphs into a powerful last hurrah featuring chugging and rolling riffs that could easily crop up on an Amon Amarth offering.
The band doesn’t seem to warm up until the two final tracks, but when all cylinders are firing the result is foot tappingly pleasing!