Aiumeen Basoa
Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik

Who would have thought that in a year that has seen releases by the likes of Equilibrium, Heidevolk, King of Asgard, Eluvietie, Kivimetsän Druidi, Skyforger and Negura Bunget, that one of the very best―if not the best―folk metal album of 2010 would be the debut from a band hailing from the Basque Country in Northern Spain?

This seven piece collective (plus a host of guest musicians) boasts your typical folk flare by way of synths, flutes, violins accordions, clean vocals and such. Rather than mimicking their Finnish/Scandinavian brethren, Aiumeen Basoa have an expected ethnic template that shows their geographical roots. There’s a definite melting pot element to it all (Middle Eastern, Northern European, Eastern European, Middle Eastern) and a more nationalist/pagan Russian black metal back bone that go with the legitimate historical Basque pride.

As varied as it is brilliant, Iraganeko Bide Malkartsutik displays a plethora of layers and influences too many to name. For example I hear Skyclad’s violin use, Orphaned Land’s progressive ethnicity, a hint of Lothlorien in the bouncy keyboards and Omnio-era In the Woods in the clean male/female vocals and more introspective/progressive moments. There’s also Eluvietie in the use of the accordion, Temnozor‘s and Obtest’s fierce nationalist black metal musings and a dash of Finntroll here and there. And that’s just for starters. The end result is six lengthy songs that are enthralling from start to finish ― displaying different nuances and hues from track to track.

Initially, opener “Kantauriko Trabain Erruak” hints at a typical LARP-ish cheesy bounce before exploding into a feral black metal gait. Of course it’s short lived as the track shifts and weaves into delicate acoustics, dreamy prog rock and introduces us to Oihane: The sumptuous female vocalist who possesses a wonderfully organic and ethnic tone ― a far cry from the soprano wannabes of Goth metal. At 11 minutes, you’d think the track would over stay its welcome, but with such a menagerie of styles it’s truly mesmerizing. Second track “Jentil Odala” delivers the same variety of high pitched shrieks, blast beats, and a vast array of folk and proggy tangents (the first real Omnio sounding foray) and awesome clean vocals, but in a more compact 7-minute version.

However, its the third track, “Aintzinako Guduen Oroimenak” that will truly mesmerize the listener; epic with its sweeping synths and rousing vocals, before turning into a beautiful instrumental in the last third. “Akelarrearen Sua” starts as a somber, accordion and flute led ballad. Oihane’s sultry voice leads you down winding medieval stone streets before it’s ambushed by an urgent black metal expulsion. Followed by more sweeping melodic interludes and deft transitions between multi hued folky frolics and serious, pride filled organic black metal. There is a slight misstep, however: The last couple of minutes spiral into this weird fluty/jazz/jam-session thing that’s a bit too progressive for the band’s own good. Things settle down for the ballad “Ekaitzaren Begitik” where the Omnio-vibe is cemented with artful restraint and elegant clean dual vocals (even some deep death metal growls). The pace picks up for closer “Aiumeen Basoa / Arlekina”, a shorter, more direct, melodic black metal take on folk metal, that ends the album with rousing closure and brilliance.

After wading through the scores of mediocrity and cookie cutter bands, it’s so refreshing in this ‘job’ to come across a gem like this. Much like the recent offering from Australia’s Arkheth, Aiumeen Basoa have delivered an epic, brilliant album of lengthy songs that never bore. One, that might be a contender for my album of the year short list.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
August 26th, 2010

Comments

  1. Commented by: Infinite Death (Nick)

    This sounds incredibly promising, especially based on the Lothlorien reference! Will check it out for sure.


  2. Commented by: Joe

    do you know what a plethora eeez?


  3. Commented by: Erik Thomas

    Excess ? overabundance? guess it has a negative connotation in its original offical meaning, i used to mean ‘lots’


  4. Commented by: Clauricaune

    It’s kinda messy. Like they took 5 different songs and stitched them together into a 10-minute Frankenstein track.

    It’s good stuff though, very laid back and enjoyable. But album of the year? Nah.


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