I like the concept of Cruachan. Call me tacky, call me a bewildered soul, call me a guy who was gob smacked with joy when Skyclad started doing the folk thing way back when. Skyclad will always be the kings of the folk/metal fusion, and nothing will change my opinion there, but the Irish quartet is following close.
My knowledge of the band’s music is limited to ‘The Middle Kingdom’ (2000), ‘Pagan’ (2004) and now ‘The Morrigan’s Call’. The style, I have to say, hasn’t changed much. The themes are mythological, the sound is reminiscent of better produced (well, produced) black metal, the music is mostly a hectic hybrid of folk and thrash with quiet pools of acoustic peace and Karen Gilligan vocal that is at times hauntingly beautiful and in other instances verging on the annoying. Supplemented by Keith Fay’s vocal, the two demand attention from the listener with their insisting vocal style, and I think it is exactly that and not so much the blend of fiffles, flutes and metal guitars that makes Cruachan unique and, indeed, an acquired taste.
Homogenous as the album is, it is difficult to single out tracks to better than the other, apart perhaps from the melancholy The Great Hunger, a track that captures that undying theme of Irish tristesse. Also noteworthy is of course the intense version of the Wild Rover, The Very Wild Rover.