Celtic Legacy - Guardian of eternity 4/5

Reviewed: 10-24-08


1. The sentinel
2. Celtica
3. Afterworld
4. For evermore
5. King of thieves
6. Absent friends
7. Erinmor
8. Dance on yer grave
9. Forgive me
10. Guardian of eternity

The embodiment of a hard-working unsigned band, Ireland’s Celtic Legacy have endured endless changes to their line-up over the 11 years since their formation to release 3 self-financed CDs to date, the most recent of which is ‘Guardian of eternity’. Founding guitarist and bassist Dave Morrissey and Dave Boylan have found it as tough as any traditional metal band from the U.K. and Ireland over the last decade (London-based, Metal Hammer-endorsed, Guitar Hero-promoted multinationals aside) to make any headway, and it is to their eternal credit that they have stuck at it for so long with so little reward.

Their style is a traditional one in 2 respects – classic heavy metal, primarily influenced by Iron Maiden and Thin Lizzy from the sounds of things, decorated here and there by little flourishes of Celtic folk music. Don’t come here looking for neo-classical sweep picking or blasting double-bass drums – Celtic Legacy rely far more on memorable songwriting and charismatic performances to see them through, and they have managed both to great effect.

Singer Ciaran Ennis is a recent acquisition for the band, and looks to be a great find as his emotive, Dickinson-esque vocals are a perfectly extravagant lynchpin for the band’s earthy style. Morrissey and his guitar partner Keith Hendley also exhibit considerable flair in their performances, playing numerous harmonies and solos written to be remembered for their character rather than any level of dazzling technicality.

After a brief, but not disposable, intro track things begin properly with “Celtica”, one of the best cuts on what is a very strong CD. Among the most folk-influenced of the songs on ‘Guardian of eternity’, it makes for a robust opening to proceedings, especially when paired with the 2nd song, “Afterworld”, a bittersweet piece on which Ennis simply sparkles.

The strongest track though is “Erinmor”, opening on a majestic melody that begins as a tearful, broken guitar line before segueing into a beautiful tin whistle performance from drummer Conor Gillen and back into guitar for a searing lead part – easily the most power metal on the CD. The rest of the song isn’t upstaged by the opening passages though, and makes for a stirring, emotional 7-minute ride capped by a stunning chorus and vocal display.

Among all this Irish wistfulness, there is also room for a couple of more acidic songs, most obviously “Absent friends” (probably not about the subject matter you’d imagine it is), which is one of the faster tunes here and brims with considerable venom. “Dance on yer grave” is another fine example of the band’s less forlorn side, even if the picked guitar part does manage to sound like both Firewind’s “Brother’s keeper” and “Message in a bottle” by The Police(!).

A CD of proportions this grandiose could only really close on something special, and the finale to the protracted – and fully justified – 11-minute running time of the title track gives the listener just that as things come to a breathtaking conclusion, embodying all the best aspects of the preceding songs in a single, powerful blow. With a strong line-up now in place around Morrissey and Boylan (they are now actually up to a 6-piece with Ennis’ brother Eoin recently joining on 3rd guitar), and a CD of this potency behind them, Celtic Legacy are in as good a position as they have ever been to finally get the break they deserve and show off their talents on the world stage. It may never happen, but at the very least they have given themselves a damn good shot at it and released a CD they can be very proud of indeed.




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