Island Mentality

In the Celtic/Pagan metal game Ireland's Primordial are the undoubted scene leaders and following in their wake are countrymen; Dublin's Celtachor. Despite the verging on diabolical production of "In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers" they've put together a decent set of songs here. It's a surprise that there are so relatively few Irish bands mining the rich furrow of native mythology. For too long it has been the preserve of hippies in folk bands and continental Europeans. To their credit Celtachor have gone the whole hog here immersing themselves in the people, places and symbols of ancient Celtic culture.

The music itself, barring the whistles, takes its cues from the sinewy, raw first wave of Norwegian black metal and old-school heavy metal. Guitars are hard rather than heavy and the songs are fairly straight forward in arrangement. The Dubliners obviously take great pride in their historical inheritance as the record references ancient King of the Tuatha De, Nuada; the warrior Lugh; sea pirates the Fomorians, using the conflicts of medieval Ireland folklore as "In The Halls Of Our Ancient Fathers" narrative.

'Riders of Fomor' adds a Thin Lizzy style rock riff to the dank mix but singer Stephen Roche voice sounds begins to sound shot through. Perhaps the adherence to black metal's sonic code is detrimental to the band's natural capabilities. The drums pound with little of the rhythmic flourishes associated with traditional Irish music and the guitars, buried in distortion, can lack individuality. The use of tin whistles adds variety and thankfully avoids the pub session quality of some other Pagan metal groups but this alone cannot entirely elevate some average song writing.

Stylistically the record is limited - it's short running time becoming a virtue - but when the songs are good like atmospheric opener 'Nemed's Wake', 'Rise of Lugh' and the clattering riff-heavy closer 'The Wavesweeper' Celtachor sound like a band of definite promise. By developing the moments of originality on this record Celtachor could well step it up a notch on their next release but for the moment this demo is competent rather than captivating.