Thursday, 31 March 2016

Album Review: Tagarot - "Veleda's Prophecy" - Reviewed by: Fury

EP: Veleda's Prophecy
Genre: Folk Metal
Country: Austria
Label: Independent
Release: January 10th, 2016

Reviewed by: Fury

01. Tears (Intro)
02. Veleda's Prophecy
03. Callis Sanguinis
04. The Shaman's Path
05. Samant
06. Bloodsoaked Earth
07. Fate and Fear

A relaxing evening in my metal throne while the lights are out and it's almost pitched black but the moon is peeking dimly through my window. It's a perfect setting to listen to traditional Celtic melodies... emphatic folk music beats and metal crunchiness go together quite nicely and soak it all in. I’m interested in listening to the folk metal band Tagarot (steams from the ancient German language meaning dawn), hailing from Austria who is an up and coming band in this scene and their debut EP, "Veleda's Prophecy" in which they released on bandcamp, Youtube and Soundcloud.

Their EP has brought to my attention that it’s a conceptual release based on a pagan priestess, Veleda, of the Bructerii, who led one of the greatest tribal European revolts against Rome. She was a dominating political, a diplomatic authority, rebellion against the Roman Empire, who guided battle strategies in conjunction with the chieftain Civilis and she also foretold Germanic folks will have victory of that war, for which many of us don’t learn about in history class. I guess it depends on what country you live in and your cultural upbringing. A German remembers Veleda as a goddess or as a "weird-elf" who would protect the forests, and roamed the lands on an outlook for any harm done to nature. Veleda is widely known for her considerable prophetic powers and was also held in high esteem by the Romans. In the reign of Emperor Vespasian she’s honored as a goddess. In ancient Germany (and among some Nordic individuals) it was believed that priestesses were capable of seeing the forthcomings. She was highly honored and worshipped by her tribe and these tribes treated women like Veleda as their living goddesses. Veleda practiced as a Völva (shamanic priestess) for her tribe, the Bructeri, in the northeast parts of Germany. The word Völva means ‘wand carrier’ or ‘wand bearer’. Today, many modern philosophies about witchcraft and wizardry stem from the practices of women just like Veleda. Within this release you will get a great sense of some emotional involvement from their point of view through listening to the sounds and tones of the music and their lyrics. That is well conceived and delivers after several times listening to it.

The spoken chanted words opening "Tears (Intro)" with wonderful folk instruments are setting off the atmosphere of this EP, leading into "Veleda's Prophecy", thus adding some heavy and melodic riffs and still have some mixed thoughts on the female vocals within this song. There were some moments that I felt the female vocals were a little off in some sections "Veleda's Prophecy" in the beginning but becomes stronger as the tracks play. She has good vocals and found them more enchanting as I listened to them many times. Although, I was just informed that vocalist Carina Linder has departed and I wonder who will take her place. "Veleda's Prophecy" traditional folk instruments, guitar riffs and drums were good and grabbed more of my attention compared to the clean vocals.

Through the use of traditional folk instruments, one of the biggest things about this band which really sold them to me was Julian Brockmeier. An excellent musician who -throughout this release- is playing Bagpipes, Mandolin, Tin & low whistles which stood out with impressive melodies. I also found it interesting that Julian can play Irish Bouzouki well because it’s an interesting instrument to enact and for some time it was lost in folklore as well as Bodhran. I would wonder if they will use Bodhran for their next release. But also many musicians started to use Greek bouzouki in the 60’s within Irish songs and dance music but was pleased he used Irish Bouzouki. Mandolin is also another interesting instrument that uses a fifth-based tunings, its most often used G2-D3-A3-E4 and I have noticed over the years many have been using an alternate tunings such as: G2-D3-A3-D4, A2-D3-A3-D4 or A2-D3-A3-E4 but you normally need to create perfect fifths and it’s a beautiful instrument to learn to play and its a part of the lute family. Occasionally, I’ll get a little side tracked and will add a little history especially for instruments that are used from my own background cultures, but I have to admit that Julian has mastered each instrument, bringing this release to a higher rating as each instrument is weaving in and out of songs extremely well. The tin whistles deserve credit bringing nice images through my mind as if I was in "Emerald Isle" (country side of Ireland) while hearing their melodies that enriches the EP.

The chief Callis are ready for battle, while holding up their chalices drinking the Romans blood is a short image that came into my mind while listening to "Callis Sangiunis". Excellent song to dive into and the guitar work is massive with melodies. Great work on vocals and other instruments that left a good impact.

Shamanism traditions and techniques can be trailed more than 5,000 years, while it roughly translates as “one who sees in the dark” and given to traditional tribal healers of the Tungus people. Several shamanic practices involve a deep meditation, sometimes in a deep trance state that will ameliorate with discovering the nature of a problem and while trying to determine potential hope, solutions, and healing. In many cultures, a shaman is a healer, and spiritual director.

While channeling, exchanging and releasing my energies listening to this EP, their song "The Shaman's Path" comes on and my darkened moods evoke magical or shamanistic powers with their rhythmic playing and sung passages, to glorify your future while seeing the beautiful side of our world. An eccentric song from the beginning to last note. "Samant" opens with talents and fervent choirs sung in a call and response pattern to a simple folk melody and around 2:38 into the song, an image of a Snake charming came into my mind with a slight Egyptian and an age old Indian folk art feel and powerful emotions. Lyrical section adds a contrasting energetic section with the instruments. Fantastic guitar leads and rhythms and solo work.

A good mixture of death and black growling vocals, clean and sung passages occurring in some songs, enlightened and branding their presence while evoking Germanic priestess battling against Romans through their lyrics and songwriting. The guitar riffs, solos, melodies were catchy and guitar tracks 2 through 7 were created by Benjamin Steiner were worthy. While Simon Brockmeier is very good accordion player, I wondered if Simon was using a Schrammelharmonika (Schrammel accordion) from Germany. Lukas Barani, trials of a few blast beats within some songs and not overcooked. Tagarot effectively harmonizing throughout the EP, which I found pleasant.

Overall, this album is good in terms of originality theme; rhythmic folk plots and has some catchiness. "Callis Sangiunis" sung by both Carina Linder and the growling of Daniel Wierczeiko, "The Shaman's Path", "Samant", opening with the skillful drums work building up an intensity and vocals dual contribute immensely to the creation of a folk music ambiance in "Blood Soaked Earth", while the mighty closing track "Fate and Fear" were my favorite ones off their EP. The folk instruments complexity and style won me over. The production was decent for a self-release recording and "Veleda's Prophecy" was mixed by Daniel Wierczeiko at Wooden Cube Studio in Germany. I’m looking forward to hearing more from Tagarot in the future.

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