Book of Dowth

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Let's say that someone listened to Suidakra's Book of Dowth without knowing anything about the band's history. Asked to guess where Suidakra were from, the listener would probably respond, "Edinburgh? Glasgow? Belfast?" Those would be understandable guesses, given how Celtic-obsessed Suidakra's approach to folk metal has been, but no, this is a German band that just happens to like Celtic music a lot, and this unlikely Celtic-metal blend yields exciting results on Book of Dowth. Suidakra have had their share of personnel changes since their formation back in 1994; on this 2010 recording, the lineup consists of Arkadius "Akki" Antonik on lead vocals, guitar, mandolin, and keyboards, Marcus Riewaldt on electric bass, and Lars Wehner on drums and background vocals. And this Antonik/Riewaldt/Wehner edition of Suidakra does a fine job of integrating extreme and non-extreme elements. On Book of Dowth, Suidakra's Celtic-minded folk metal draws on power metal as well as melodic death metal and symphonic black metal; there are the black metal-style rasp vocals, but clean vocals are equally prominent, if not more prominent. There are the blastbeats and mosh pit-friendly moments, but a great deal of attention is paid to melody, harmony, and songcraft. And female singer Tina Stabel (who is employed as a guest vocalist on "Biróg's Oath," "Mag Mell," and "Fury Fomoraigh") provides clean vocals exclusively, whereas Antonik offers both clean and extreme vocals. The expressive Stabel is a definite asset on this 40-minute CD, adding to the overall musicality. And make no mistake: Suidakra, for all their intensity and metallic aggression, are a highly musical band. In fact, Book of Dowth is going to be too musical and too melodic for extreme metal purists. At the same time, no one should expect Book of Dowth to sound like an album by Capercaillie, Altan, or any other band that is well known in the Celtic market. No, Book of Dowth is mainly for moshers and headbangers, albeit moshers and headbangers who like their metal on the melodic side and have some appreciation of world music. Book of Dowth demonstrates that Suidakra are still quite capable of excellence after all these years.

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