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Folk Report

Some people will wonder why I am doing this for they only know me as Sascha, Sir Lord Doom, the ultimate Metalhead. Well, there is one side of my person not many people know of and that is my fondness for folk music and related styles. I consider metal and folk being styles that are to me spiritually related in many ways, both styles feature within their borders a nearly immense variety of sub genres, both genres have emotional depth and both unleash a fiery passion that cannot really be tamed. For sure, folkmusic is often a bit more relaxed as metal could ever be but there are these above mentioned things they have in common, so I will now try to turn my brethren of steel maybe a bit onto folkmusic. And if there are only a few out there that be stricken by my words and start to explore the beauty of celtic and other folk music, if there are only a few maniacs like me that let their spirits float deeply into these worlds still unknown to them, it will mean a huge victory for me within my eternal struggle for tolerance and great music! I will give a rating from 0 (total crap) to 10 (unearthly) to each album I review! I hope that the musicians will be satisfied with it! I promise to be fair with my ratings!

Twilight Lords: The White Seahorse (1999)

This is the band of Dublin born singer / mandolin and guitar player Ken O'Malley. Their CD "The White Seahorse" shows an incredible stylistic width but still remains within the genre specific borders. It starts with an old traditional named "Carrickfergus". People may know this track in a slightly different version from Germany's best folk oriented band Subway to Sally (being reviewed later). This english language version is played more reserved, slower but still very dedicated. I really love Ken's mid range, very basic voice. Next comes "The Sailor Song", an original by this band. It is some sort of straight ahead piece of music, the melody line is a bit melancholic but still the whole track has this hopeful feeling. Another old irish traditional flies in with "Tobin's Medley", an instrumental piece that makes the listener dream of a dancing crowd of red haired and green eyed girls of immense beauty and rough edged guys. Cool! We move over to some traditional irish mouth music. This style results from the english laws a couple of centuries ago that did not allow irish musicians to play instruments so they formed the sounds of those through pieces of words that did not have a real meaning but transported the melodies on through time. It is just a short piece but in it's expressiveness it is nearly unreachable! The following song is again one of these bandoriginals, a slightly melancholic rock tune with a certain laid back feeling, that goes deeply into your soul. It centeres around a historic figure from ireland that came from the 16th century, a person that had a big influence during this time. Grace O'Malley, an ancestor of Ken. She was known as the pirate queen! A very great and intense history lession indeed! Next comes a waltz, "Highwire Waltz", another beautiful tune that shows a slightly sad aura. The absolute opposite of this song is the next track in line, "Chief O'Meills Favourite / King of the Faires". A really happy traditional instrumental piece, a bit faster, good to dance to. From here we go to more deeper emotions. "Black is the colour" is one of those special lovesongs that really touches everyone who got the pleasure to listen to it. It has a certain rocking feeling that, combined with this song's melancholic expression, reminds me of the better Dire Straits tracks like "Sultan's of Swing" but still it is far from copying anything, it just got this feel of remembrance. I think people will love this one! As much as I do, hopefully. And off we go, "Better Days", this is a song of hope and so we have a very energetic melody and rhythm, really driving, moving. Ken sings out his fury about these dark times but with a positive force in the back, he points on the light at the end of the tunnel, says that there will be better days! Great! "Old Dublin Days / The Cualin" is a narration backed with some mandolin melodies. Ken tells you the story of his childhood and an irish writer and poet who lived in his neighbourhood. If you are not really into that irish dialect, it will be ahrd to follow this story but try it, you will never repent. This narration piece flows into "The Auld Triangle", sang from the point of view of this writer. It centeres around his days in jail, imprisoned for nearly nothing bye the english government. This is another really emotional and melancholic piece
but there are a few parts within the lyrics that seem quite humorous to me. The humor a man has watching the world through iron bars! A really beauty, this one! After so many memories, so much and deep melancholy, we could actually need something really cheerful and we get it. Another instrumental piece, "Silver Spear / Maid behind the bar". And believe me, noone will stay in his armchair here, you all will dance, my friends! From the bar to "The Holy Ground". This track is more laid back again, with these certain irish melodies, somehow happy but so deeply melancholic, desireful, a bit tragic. You would not waste a tear while hearing it but you though smile you still feel that you have to go back somewhere before you reach the final step of your life's stairs. A flute closes this smoker with a short melody. And now, surprise, surprise, after all these traditionals and basic celtic rock tunes, we have a very modern sounding piece of music. The atmosphere is powerful, as if you stand at the cliffs and look out to the see where storm come up and moves directly towards the place where you stand.
There is an amazing tension drifting from these melodies and synthesized rhythms. You feel the storm coming nearer and nearer until he will directly explode upon you. Awesome! "She moves through the fair" is the title and you will definitely never forget this one, even though you need a pocketful of tolerance if you only heard traditional irish folk and celtic rock before! This song has some of the most passionated violin solos and mandolin leads ever played. Believe me when I say that this is far from being just a mainstream dance pop number, this is truely progressive and emotional music! And here we have to stop now, pause for a moment. Was this really real or did we just dream about this journey to the rainy isle of green? 9 

Twilight Lords: On Raglan Road EP (2001)

As their manager Shelley (god bless her) told me, this is not a really official new release but a kind of experiment backed up with alot of fun. But, well, to be honest, Shelley, this is great. Ken O'Meill and his crew did another fine job recording these four beautiful tracks. With the exception of track two (sorry, got no titles), they go into a similar direction as the last albumsong "She moves through the Fair", a combination of very intense and haunting celtic melodies and electronic beats and synthesized melodies. Excellent stuff, far from ordinary chart filling bullshit, far from all conventional soulless musical outputs that get on my nerves each day I turn on the radio. This is, as I was told, an experiment but it is so great that I'd recommend to the band to do some more work into that direction or even crossover a bit more to show both sides within one song, the traditional celtic rock / folk one and the modern electronical one. People into not alldays music dig no further, get in contact with this band! 8,5

Salsa Celtica: The great scottish latin adventure (2000)

What the hell is this? Scottish folk mixed up with south american styles such as mambo and salsa? Can this please my ears? Can this be good? What does my brother in arms Ray D. Chaos write within his review? Does he really recommend this? Really? WELL, I HAVE TO ADMIT THAT I RECOMMEND THIS ONE, TOO! It really works out, may these two styles be as different as they could, it works out! As soon as you put this into your player you got struck by the hot blooded latin grooves and they take you with 'em on a journey to the craziest places you would ever have been to. This is awesome! Hypnotic beats, melodies between celticmelancholy and southern passion fill your mind with a desire to stand up and dance. The musicianship here is brillant, every hook, every lick, every beat, it all fits together, there is not a single moment where you think what this passage could mean. Wow! I could drown within this. On through these 50 minutes of fiery joy of life you forget about the grey and stormy world you live in for you get moved by the rhythms that come deep from the souls of the musicians. The voice of the singer commands you to drop all unfitting thoughts and emotions. You will be in for the fun! There is no darkness at all any longer. You feel stressed? Do yourself a favour and listen to this, this will relieve your body and refuel your soul! 9

Blackthorn: It's an Irish Thing (1997)

Yes, definitely! This CD is an irish thing and a damn good thing also! It features alot of great traditional or covertunes among the 8 Songs and especially that quite cheekey sounding "Celtic Symphony" with this awesome electrifying melodyline and a certain 70s dancemusic feel (I think that was the intention) and the more than deep and beautiful ballad "Back home in Derry" ruled by, well, I am not sure who does the leadvocals here, but he's really great. The melodies, for sure we have many traditionals here, play an important role on this album.
Dragging, thrilling melodies that set your heart on fire. Traditionals, covertunes and originals work hand in hand to give the listener a bittersweet taste of the irish spirit, pure melancholy, but also very happy and enlighted moments show up to say hello to the listener. And these guys here are really talented players also, they let their instruments sing wild and wonderful notes. If there is any lover of a more rocking version of Celtic Folk that is deeply rooted in the original spirit, get this smoker! This is an album to enlighten even my darkest days! 9,5

Blackthorn: The Other Side (1998)

This is the follow up to this wonderful debut! They added one more dedicated musician, as you can hear, to their line up but still there is this gentle voice that really gave me deep feelings while listening to the first album. The melodies here are way more laid back than on the debut, so it takes a while until they heat me up fully. Well, that shall not mean that this album is weaker in any aspect, not at all! Still Blackthorn, whose name was also used by a norwegian lackmetaloutfit, know how to kick ass with wonderful tunes, mostly originals this time and this time it is also indicated who does the vocals! Bandleader Paul Moore is the one that I admire that much. It seems that his throat never saw any pint of Guinness or any drop of whiskey and his lungs are still free from cigarette smoke. Well, only this healthy lifestyle does not give you such a voice, what you need is talent and this man has more of it than thousands of pathetic opera styled vocalists from nowadays symphonic metal bands. Back to the album. It is obvious that the guys again progressed on their instruments and this can be heard. The raditional tunes live from that masterly playing. Blackthorn give their songs a soul and a heart, their tunes breathe the love that the musicians feel for this music and their roots. Never will anyone who listens to any album of this band get away dissatisfied, the compositions are so intense and played with total dedication. My favourite tunes are "No Way to go but up" (I often feel like that!!!! Awesome melody!!!!! ) and "Ballad of 15 B". This ballad is one of the most ebautiful tunes I ever got to listen to and it was quite hard for me to hold back my tears. Paul, you and your guys rule! So, to say it short, this is totally catchy, celtic rooted and passionated rock music! Get this ripper! 9


Neck: Psycho Ceilid

The cover of this 6 track ep is quite primitive looking and so it does not turn away the listener from the music. But actually this ep could have a bombastic epic cover picture, it would be immediately forgotten when the music started. This is awesome! Here we get six songs of dramatical traditional celtic folk powered up with a rock instrumentation behind the traditional instruments. The guitar, played with passion, does not show any complicated licks or riffs but this adds even more power to the singular songs. You turn on the music and be taken away by the storms haunting the shores of old Albion. Melodies, god, there are melodies that make you burn, a fire you can't extinguish anymore. My personal favourite is the coverversion of the old traditional "Back home in Derry". It is the same song that Blackthorne already have done on their 1997 "It's an irish thing" CD but this time it is not laid back at all, it blasts off totally. The guitarplaying, the vocallines (doubled voices and stuff) remind me a bit of U2 during their best days! This is totally dragging! And if you think that the rest of the songs is weaker in any way, you'd be disappointed for they all kill! Leeson O' Keeffe has done a wonderful songwriting work here. If you long for the days when the Pogues released their second (and best) album, wait no longer for a time machine to pass by, take this CD instead. Neck already show as much potential as the irish legend and if they go like that, their name soon will be spoken with a respectful undertone. I did not hear celtic rock with such a power during the last few years! Contact them at neck-neck@another.com10

At this point I end up the first part of my folk report for I want this to be posted soon. Next time we will have reviews for Kartanaka, Mellow Candle, Avalon Rising, Saturnalia and more, maybe one or two interviews also. Watch out!