For years now DALRIADA have been flying the flag of Hungarian Folk Metal for many years now and I’ve been able to follow them for their beginning and again since their “Igeret” album, so when I saw that with “Napisten Hava” a new album was flying in, I sure as hell was ready to catch!
So what sets the septet apart so much from your usual Folk Metal? Well, there are different elements that characterize this band as DALRIADA and as Hungarian overall. For one singing in their native tongue, which is one of the oddest sounding (to Western ears) in Europe, for the other the Eastern influenced scales of Hungarian Folk music and the uniquely Hungarian way the violin is used makes them stand out. Well, of course the extremely high quality of the songwriting also plays a little bit of a role, I would think.
As the subtitle of the intro shows, you will find Csárdás references throughout the album (hence the Hungarian uniqueness, but DALRIADA don’t need any gimmicks, because they ride on the sheer strength of their songwriting. It is always a good sign, if you can attribute a song on a fifth album to be the strongest a band has ever written and in this case “A Dudás” takes the cake here. An incredibly varied, powerful and dynamic track that showcases the brilliant melodies, the excellent vocals of Laura Binder, the choir, violin and flute, and even are treated to something that sounds like throat singing and works greatly.
Now it is always difficult to follow up a killer track like this, but they manage to do so in beautiful and impressive fashion. They continue to mould together great dynamics and energy with beautiful violin passages, great vocals, well placed choirs and this Hungarian originality setting them apart from most other bands out there. And that they are not a one trick pony is wonderfully displayed in tracks such as the surprisingly dark and atmospheric title track, the more Hard Rock influenced “Hírhozó” or mostly slow and epic “A Juhászlegény Balladája”.
One track, though, comes close to the magic of “A Dudás”: “Hunyadi és Kapisztrán Nándorfehérvári Diadaláról (Saltarello)”. Now some might be familiar with the saltarello, a lively dance from medieval Naples, Italy, but DALRIADA perfectly hungarianize it with calm flute and percussion setting out and then rising into one of the most epic Folk Metal songs I have heard in ages, you just gotta love that choir!
So there is always the risk for a band that has found its niche to stick to their formula and begin to sound samey, but even with several albums under their belt, DALRIADA continue to age like great Hungarian wine and get better with the years. “Napisten Hava” is an impressive showcase of how to fuse together traditional Folk and Metal into an energetic, gripping and original mix. Embedded into a strong and clear production, this band deserves to be heard and appreciated by any fan of this style, I can’t wait for the next one already!
(Online December 24, 2012)