Furor Gallico - Dusk Of The Ages - (8.5/10)
Published on June 12, 2019
Though regularly receiving healthy competition from the exploits of the Viking age and a respectable showing from the Slavic side of olden lore, there has been a seemingly ubiquitous presence of ancient Celtic culture amid the ongoing folk metal craze, reaching all the way back to the mid-1990s. It hasn’t been a wholly British Isles or French-based phenomenon either, as the old imperial boundaries that covered the nations of present day Spain, Switzerland and Italy have all fielded bands recounting the days when a mighty empire spread all the way from Ireland to the western fringes of Turkey. Among the more semi-recent adherents to this niche within melodic death meets period instrument gimmickry is a Lombardy-based outfit dubbed Furor Gallico that, while not quite as prolific as their Swiss counterparts, has been giving the epic anthems of Eluvveitie a serious run for their money. They present a variation on the aforementioned large ensemble’s lofty odes that is fairly close in general character, but does well to distinguish itself by toning down some of the more extravagant elements while heightening a few others.
This isn’t to say that this outfit’s third studio offering Dusk Of The Ages slouches in any departments, as song for song it’s among the more ambitious offerings to come out of the folk metal world of late. In terms of length and stylistic variation, the overall picture is actually quite elaborate, playing off a bit stronger of a death metal brand of aggression than the power metal-like sensibilities of Equilibrium and leaning a tad bit closer to a heavier, Amon Amarth-inspired presentation with a rustic, campfire style folk accompaniment that’s comparable to the tail end of Suidakra’s middle era (particularly Crogacht and Book Of Dowth). One of the more blatant examples of this is the deep, guttural vocal presentation and chunky melodeath-tinged verse riff on “Nebbia Della Mia Terra”, which could almost pass for something off Versus The World if the violins and whistles were dropped from the arrangement. The same basic stylistic picture is painted on heavier numbers like “Dusk Of The Ages” and the upper mid-paced thrasher “Starpath”, just a good old fashioned, heavy-ended assault with a few toned down acoustic breaks to keep the listener guessing.
Although the impact factor is a bit more blunt on this album relative to a number of the more popular and “epic” branded folk metal acts, there is a fair degree of beauty to go along with the raging beast. Truth be told, the aforementioned analogy doesn’t conjure up memories of the same phenomenon in 90s death/doom and Gothic circles, as the assortment of harsh vocalizations trotted out by front man Davide Cicalese find themselves being tempered by a dead-ringer for Liv Kristine’s angelic crooning courtesy of guest vocalist Valentina Pucci. At times it actually turns into a sort of love triangle approach comparable to earlier Sirenia as Cicalese also throws in a few competent clean vocal parts as well. This mixed vocal approach has an equal impact on the overall sound as the array of acoustic instruments being employed, and while the greatest points of contrast are all or mostly acoustic fits of balladry in “The Sound Of Infinity” and “Canto D’Inverno”, the moment where the blending of consonance and extremity truly hit a point of catharsis are the longer and more varied offerings of “Aquane” and “The Gates Of Annwn”, which along with the impact-based opener “The Phoenix” constitute the greatest standout moments.
This is folk metal for those who like things to be a bit less on the symphonic bluster side of the equation, yet not without a sense of grandiosity amid the otherwise more stripped down and rustic demeanor. In essence, this is an album that basically accomplishes the same end result as Eluveitie but with half the number of musicians involved. No expense is spared in terms of how competently each element is brought to the table, and those craving occasional technical guitar solos after the Ensiferum model, a few solid renditions can be found on “The Phoenix” and “The Gates Of Annwn”, among a couple others. But more important than the various moving parts, the entirety of this album has a sense of harmony and cohesion that makes it sound about as large as recent symphonic-leaning efforts courtesy of this band’s Swiss elders and the most recent output of Suidakra, without the need of massive orchestral keyboard patches or a massive ensemble of guest and permanent musicians. No matter how many times the ghosts of Celtic hordes trudge over the murky swamps, it just never gets old.