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Eluveitie - "Everything Remains As It Never Was" (CD)

Eluveitie - "Everything Remains As It Never Was" CD cover image

"Everything Remains As It Never Was" track listing:

1. Otherworld
2. Everything Remains As It Never Was
3. Thousandfold
4. Nil
5. The Essence Of Ashes
6. Isara
7. Kingdom Come Undone
8. Quoth The Raven
9. (do)minion
10. Setlon
11. Sempiternal Embers
12. Lugdunon
13. The Liminal Passage

Reviewed by on February 22, 2010

"What was once fresh and creative is now starting to become stale, though the band gets enough material together to pass off 'Everything Remains As It Never Was' as above-average."

In 2009, Eluveitie released “Evocation I - The Arcane Dominion,” an all-acoustic album that dropped any hints of a melodic death metal sound from earlier albums. It was a risky venture that had a few redeeming qualities, but turned out to be a contrived and lackluster experiment. A little less than a year later, Eluveitie puts things back on course with their fourth album, “Everything Remains As It Never Was.” The album is a step up from their last output, but the cracks are beginning to show in their folk/death metal formula. What was once fresh and creative is now starting to become stale, though the band gathers enough material together to pass off “Everything Remains As It Never Was” as above-average.

While folk metal has always had a mystique to it, there has also been a cheesy goofiness to it. For years, Eluveitie has avoided this pitfall by incorporating both death and folk metal. At its core, Eluveitie is a death metal band; the folk elements are only the icing on top, but they still play an important role in developing the other-world atmosphere that is essential for any good folk album. Instrumentals “Isara” and “Setlon” are the only clear-cut folk tracks on here, utilizing acoustics, strings, and whistles to create tight jams that sounds like unreleased cuts from “Evocation I.”

The title track is an aggressive start, a warm welcome for those dying to hear the heavier side of the band again. The clean female vocals mix with the harsh growls to form a fresh dynamic that isn’t used nearly enough on the rest of the album. In fact, much of the album is mid-paced, save for the explosive “Kingdom Come Undone.” That lends itself to repetition, as every song seems to be formatted in a similar fashion. The songwriting blueprints evident in the first half of the album in “Nil” and “The Essence Of Ashes” are followed step-by-step all the way to the bitter end.

The experimental factor that made their last album somewhat entertaining has been replaced by simplistic death metal riffing and obligatory folk sections. It gets to a point where the listener can predict when the next folksy breakdown will occur with Nostradamus-like ability. The few exceptions include the wicked guitar work in closer “Lugd'non” and the sharp female vocals on “Quoth The Raven.”

Having eight musicians in any band can prove to be a challenge when it comes to recording, especially when each one has their own role to play. With all these different instruments in use, keeping everything even in the mix is an arduous task. Eluveitie handles this relatively well, though the guitars sound thin and muddled during the more hectic moments. The musicianship is good on the album; nothing spectacular, though Meri Tadic tears it up on the fiddle on numerous occasions.

After four albums, it’s clear that Eluveitie has found its niche in the folk/death metal genre and seems content to stick with it. While “Everything Remains As It Never Was” is a return to form after “Evocation I,” the album just seems to skim along on a formulaic sound. It isn’t a terrible album, and there are a few catchy numbers that will please long-time fans; however, what was original on “Spirit” is starting to sound too familiar for its own good on “Everything Remains As It Never Was.”

Highs: Tight acoustic instrumentals, nice use of female vocals, aggression of the title track and "Kingdom Come Undone."

Lows: Band sticks to the folk/death metal formula to a tee, lackluster second half, simplistic instrumental work.

Bottom line: A return to form for Eluveitie, but the cracks in their songwriting are beginning to show.

Rated 3 out of 5 skulls
3 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)