Aes Dana

With their long awaited second album, France’s Aes Dana (who once featured various members of Antaeus and Arkhon Infaustus), have delivered a perfect rendition of folk and Celtic/pagan artistry and frosty black metal nihilism and arguably one of the finest pieces of folk based metal I have ever heard.

Graced by the flutes of Amorgen (of fellow French pagan metallers Bran Barr), acoustic flourishes and pipes, the fluid and seething black metal of Formors is given a brilliant Celtic sheen that gives their traditional black metal sound a simply hypnotic atmosphere of barbaric grandeur, painted men and a ragged beautiful wilderness. Not simply a gimmick, the Celtic/Folk based flute and pipe elements are intertwined within each song as a part of the whole, gracing blast beats, slow builds and acoustic sections alike with their lush tones.

The grim black metal, by itself it pretty good regardless, following a distinctly early 90’s Scandinavian approach, but when flocked with the Celtic flourishes, becomes something far more impressive. The overall sound is what I imagine In Extremo or Morgenstern would sound like if they played primal black metal. From the delicate opening bounce (which soon turns into a brittle black metal gash) of “Les Traces De La Branche Rouge” (yes, the song titles and lyrics are in French) through epic closer “Manannan Mac Lir”, Formor left me enthralled and bristling with Celtic energy. Each of the lengthy songs melds a competent form of rasping, staccato black metal with simply perfect injections of tempered, unobtrusive folk beauty. “Formors: Mer De Glaces Et D’Nombre” starts as a somber controlled ballad, before exploding into blacked fury and them into an addictive acoustic jig. “Formors: Exil” initially goes straight for the throat with no flutes of pipes, but soon settles into a mid paced, flute laden canter through the forest. The controlled Maypole dance meets Black metal gait of “Gwenardell” is simply a joy to listen too, while the warlike tones of “Le Combat Des Arbres” is rousing and blood pumping.

Not content to simply rely on their Celtic elements, “Les Griffes Des Oiseaux” lean more heavily on brusque black metal fervor to carry the song, though its Folk injections to add to an already impressive song. The reverse can be said of bouncy, jiggy tracks like “Ventres Noirs” and “Manannan Mac Lir”. The production is a fair balance between decently produced yet gritty black metal and the obvious Celtic overtures that are delivered with an earthy realism rather than over produced and dominant. Vidar (also of Industrial act Forge) has an adequate rasp, but personally a few more vocal variation (female, choir or something) in line with the Celtic instrumentation would have rounded Formor out nicely.

A superb album. My only question is why are the French doing so much Celtic/Pagan metal (Aes Dana, Bran Barr, Heol Telwen, Ancalagon, Furia, Hirilorn) , where are… well, the Celts?

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
December 28th, 2005


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