SUIDAKRA are back and – surprise – more line-up changes. Marcel Schoenen is out of the band again and Arkadius and crew are continuing as a three piece for now, offering us their latest long player “Crógacht”, trying to trump their last masterpiece “Caledonia”. Even without turmoil in the line-up a tough feat to accomplish, but hey, so far they’ve managed to surprise me more than once, so why not this time?
The first interesting thing about the new album is that Kris Verwimp this time around did not only work on the cover artwork, but also is responsible for the concept and the lyrics, so the man is multi-talented for sure! So after the last album having been a concept album about Scotland, the Germans crossed the North Channel and now are dealing with Ireland or more precisely the mythological Irish hero Cuchulainn, who undertakes a journey to the Scottish Isle Of Skye to learn the arts of war from a warrior woman. So an interesting foundation to build on and I am happy to say that SUIDAKRA continue to deliver high quality music to go with it!
After the epic, bagpipe-supported intro “Slán”, “Conlaoch” kicks things off with high energy and very nice heaviness, while maintaining the great melodies and bagpipes elements that the band had used to carve their own niche within the genre, completely with rough vocals, btw, and some irresistible harmonies that contrast the at times surprisingly heavy riffing, resulting in a very varied approach to the genre and further underlining the strength of this trio in almost every aspect. With bands mixing genres, people usually are worried that they will move too much into one direction and whoever might have been worried that the heaviness might suffer during the musical evolution, fret not, “Isle Of Skye” has very Folky chants and melodies, but also throws some blastbeat sections our way, so the guys take great care that they keep things balanced.
I am not going to mention every single song here, even though almost each tune has something characteristic worth mentioning, but “Scáthach” is one of the strongest tracks I have heard by SUIDAKRA so far, with power, brilliant melodies, dynamics and more, while “Feats Of War” is completely sung by guest vocalist Tina Stabel, adding a nice oasis of tranquility in between the high-octane compositions. One thing that strikes is that “Crógacht” is fairly different compared to “Caledonia”, yet still distinctly SUIDAKRA, proving what this is all about, to stay true to yourselves but still evolve. The only song I am still going to mention is closer “Baile’s Strand”, which is among the most epic of this band, so the Germans manage to bring some of the heavier passage of their career as well as some of the most epic, showing the spectrum they cover on this album.
It is good to see that the band continues to march from strength to strength without copying their past efforts. “Caledonia” was just that certain something stronger, but “Crógacht” still is better than 90% of anything else in this sound, clearly one of the leading bands of the style these days and a must, if you like this genre, one of 2009’s highlights!
(Online March 30, 2009)