We all wade through archetypes. We all ARE archetypes. Distant echoes of a life both primeval and noble. To embrace these archetypes, to accept them not only as a part of life but as life itself is what some may call enlightenment, some peace of mind. ELUVEITIE call it »Ategnatos«. And by using their longest gap between two Metal albums to gather momentum, they just forged their strongest album around it.
Born in the rural mysticism of the Swiss alps and since a very early point deeply rooted within Celtic mythology, Gaulish history and proto-European culture, ELUVEITIE have long become Folk Metal’s trailblazers, spindoctors and rightful masters of their craft. All the more because they never limited
themselves to simple forays through rune-decorated cliches or foolish drinking songs. From their fabled debut »Spirit« (2006) onward, theirs was an approach of respect, historic accuracy, depth and the most thrilling, catchy, primordial melange of Melodic Death Metal and Pagan Folk the world could have ever imagined.
Success, of course, was not far behind. Their groundbreaking seminal work »Slania« saw them bond with Nuclear Blast, a friendship that lasts to this day and quickly turned the band into a worldwide phenomenon. In a rapid two-year-succession, they unleashed »Everything Remains (As It Never Was)«, »Helvetios« and that massive monument of all things Folk Metal called »Origins«, framed by the two elaborate and archaic acoustic albums »Evocation I – The Arcane Dominion and »Evocation II – Pantheon«, the last of which was also presented on an unforgettable acoustic tour. On each release, they refined their trademark brand of Chrigel’s thundering roar, metallic fierceness and folkloric ingenuity that has always been miles above the usual “let’s add some bagpipes there”.
Members came, members went. The soul of ELUVEITIE, though, the very essence of this pagan congregation remained undisturbed. Now, in the dawn of 2019, they look back upon an impressive seven studio albums, the last of which climbed to the very top of the Swiss album charts and also made a remarkable entry at No. 6 in Germany, as well as countless tours around the globe and headliner slots at the biggest Metal festivals. Still, this was only the beginning. A 13-year-overture for the things about to come. The sky is darkening, the ravens fly. The stage is set for the thunderstorm that has already been heralded by the tempestuous harbinger »Rebirth« in late 2017. Finally, everything is prepared for the colossal voice of the ages that is »Ategnatos«.
On an album both mystical and philosophical, ELUVEITIE propel mythology, pagan belief and spirituality into our modern world. “This one almost became something like a socio-critical uncovering work”, says Chrigel, “some kind of a revelation, a doomsday prophecy. Dark and severe in its atmosphere and charisma, and also occult, arcane and elitist.” The album itself is a manifesto, a fast-paced, highly dramatic and embellished work on which today’s society sees itself in the mirror of ancient Celtic mythology and knowledge. “The image, of course, is blood-curling”, Chrigel adds with a bitter grin. “At least to those with eyes to see.” Far more that a pessimistic swan song for our world, however, »Ategnatos« holds the cathartic promise of renewal. “Ategnatos is the Gaulish word for ‘reborn’”, Chrigelexplains. “To the sharpened mind, it points out the concealed, long forgotten key to change and renewal.” This, naturally, comes at a price. “There’s always suffering before bliss. And always darkness before light.”
A work based on archaic archetypes and the ancient concept of renewal, »Ategnatos« unfolds an elemental force to be reckoned with. “These archetypes are still within us. People didn’t change that much during the last 3000 years – and men were always just men.” No wonder the album follows a decidedly darker, monumental tone that suits them very well. Of course, ELUVEITIE have long found their very own trademark sound, a sonic adventure often copied but never overcome. With »Ategnatos«, the dedicated nine-piece not only worked with a real string quartet (a premiere!) and granted Fabienne Erni’s sublime mastery of the harp the room it deserved; they also undertook a holistic upgrade resulting in some of the most catchy (‘Ambriamus’), most aggressive (‘Worship’, featuring LAMB OF GODtitan Randy Blythe on guest vocals) or most epic (‘Black Water Down’) tunes the Swiss Metal nobility has ever offered.
While this may not come as a surprise to those familiar with the zeal and ardor this band is known for, the whole journey that would eventually give birth to »Ategnatos« was rather unusual. With what quickly became the most stable, most prolific and most creative line-up yet, ELUVEITIE created the album while staying at the Zurich University of Arts and more than ever worked as one. This is an accomplishment in itself given the fact that the Swiss Folk Metal superstars boast a full nine members, but it gets even more special if you recall the usual process of creation. “From the very beginning of ELUVEITIE, my blueprint for a new album remained untouched and eventually became a reality. This record, however, is a product of the entire band. The whole affair was a decidedly spontaneous process allowing the songs to radically change while still in development.” The instant hit ‘Ambriamus’, for example, only took them two hours to write when they already were in the studio. “A bit unusual”, Chrigel confesses, “but all the more brilliant.”
Some things, of course, never change. Recordings took place in their beloved New Sound Studio with their engineer of choice Tommy Vetterli. “Yet it was radically different as we only had four weeks to record this time around – as compared to the eight weeks we had for ‘Origins’.” By taking mixing duties to the skilled hand of renowned studio wizard Jens Bogren in his Fascination Street Studios in Örebro, Sweden, ELUVEITIE returned to the very spot where they mixed their now legendary »Slania« album more than ten years ago. “How time flies”, Chrigel exclaims. And with an insurmountable epic like »Ategnatos« under their belts, the next years are bound to fly by, too. Heavy touring will commence even before the release, taking the band to South America first. “Asia, Europe and the United States are about to follow, bridged by a massive festival season”. Oh no, ELUVEITIE are not only back, stronger and fiercer than ever. They are reborn. Truly and thoroughly reborn, thus becoming an archetype of their own.