Suidakra - Book of dowth 3.5/5
1. Over nine waves
2. Dowth 2059
4. Biróg's oath
5. Mag mell
6. The dark mound
8. Stone of the seven suns
9. Fury fomoraigh
10. Otherworlds collide
Suidakra really seem to have hit their stride again in recent times following a questionable bit of experimenting with more commercial influences a few years back. While ‘Caledonia’ was a big step in the right direction, 2009’s ‘Crogacht’ was a masterful bit of work, and easily one of their best to date - something you won’t find yourself saying very often about any band’s 9th full-length CD.
‘Book of dowth’ maybe isn’t quite such a storming success as its predecessor, but certainly continues in the same vein and there is no sign of their momentum wavering any time soon. Seemingly settled into a 3-piece arrangement for the time being at least, the band (ably backed as ever by piper Axel Römer and vocalist Tina Stabel) have delivered another fine offering of celtic-flavoured melodeath which carries on their recent successes while at the same time tweaking the formula slightly in a few areas.
One of the things that made ‘Crogacht’ such a success was that it was the most densely-packed, furious CD Suidakra had released in some years. This style is mostly continued faithfully here, with most of the songs at least partially driven by endless barrages of cascading riffs and thunderous, intricate drumming; but at the same time it is also true that the more serene, thoughtful side of the band is given a bit more exposure this time around.
With Marcel Coenen now out of the picture entirely, nearly all vocal duties have fallen to main man Arkadius Antonik, and while he provided some heavily-backed up clean vocals on the last CD it was Tina Stabel who took lead in the only song not to feature any screaming.
On first listen it would seem the same might be the case here when the midtempo “Biróg's oath” appears only 4th in the tracklist, and Stabel’s sweet voice arrives right from the start to compliment the song’s dark intensity.
Antonik seems to have grown in confidence however, as the song that immediately follows is driven almost entirely by acoustic guitars (played in part by former guitarist Sebastian Hintz in a nice touch) and darting keyboard arrangements, and with nothing to hide behind he puts in a powerful, emotional performance. With this now added to their arsenal, the CD as a whole sees more frequent use of melodic vocals and it provides some additional colour and variety to some of the songs.
Tracks in this more restrained vein are actually often among the CD’s highlights, as “Stone of the seven suns” goes to show, still satisfyingly heavy but featuring an excellent clean-sung chorus and with twanging mandolin playing offering a nice foil to the guitars.
The meat of ‘Book of dowth’ though is the usual Suidakra fare of densely-packed melodic death metal, and while they maybe don’t have that many surprises left up their sleeves they are still experts at crafting these songs. The only thing that’s a little new is the lyrical concept (provided again by artist Kris Verwimp) which includes all the expected celtic mythology but is spun into a depressingly dark tale beginning in the near future and culminating in the end of the universe itself. Such concerns come secondary to the music of course, and Suidakra are still delivering on that front, no questions asked.
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