Grab a beer and a couple of friends, for Cruachan are going to provide you the greatest album to get wasted to!

Cruachan are the strangest of bands. With Karen Gilligan’s beautiful voice at their front, gut wrenching drumming and snarling six strings; their line up makes them seem like the standard metal band. However, Cruachan sport an interesting twist which listening to any one of the songs on their latest album ‘Pagan’ will reveal. They’re heavily influenced by Irish folk music. Instead of sounding like the most appalling idea born when some friends were totally drunk, it’s a picturesque dive into the background of Ireland that is the perfect accompaniment to a few pints in your local. All manner of traditional Celtic instruments are waiting to be found within the many layers of Cruachan’s music. The CD itself is well presented, with artwork by legendary John Howe. Luckily, the CD is not a disappointment.

Starting off with the mighty ‘Michael Collins’, Cruachan take only around 4 minutes to educate you in this Irish patriot and soldier's deeds and ultimately, his death. The second track is a lot more thought provoking as it baits Christianity with both its lyrics and satanic speed drumming. Any song which uses the words “A religion of conquest born in black light” with regards to Christianity is alright by me. Bass player John Clohessy adds his ferocious growl into the turbulent mixture that positively boils with anger.

The third track, ‘The Gael’ is a mournful continuation of an earlier Cruachan song. Speaking of a dead lover, Gilligan’s angelic vocal talents come into their own. After a stunning fiddle solo the metal from the last two tracks pours back into the song and works with the fiddle to create an unusual sound that’s refreshing to hear. If you’re listening to this album for the first time, make sure you have a beer in hand by the time track eight rolls round to fully appreciate the uplifting guitars and typical Irish lyrics. ‘Some Say The Devil Is Dead’ is a pleasant surprise from the usual dreary songs placed into the middle of albums by artists. Containing the ingenious line “Cock your leg, oh Paddy dear, it’s time to stop your yawning” after a couple of listens and a few drinks you’ll be more than willing to sing along.

Overall, an album that swings from extremes Cruachan tackle a wide range of ideas in ‘Pagan’; from politics, to lost loves and right through to traditional drinking songs and Lord Of The Rings tributes. Thoughtfully, the band includes brief notes on most of the songs on the album, giving details on the characters and events they portray with passionate joy and enthusiasm. Whoever knew that Ireland had it in her to create such a unique and young spirited band?