An exquisite blend of Scottish poetry, imagery and hard hitting Metal.
Before I began writing this review and whilst doing a bit of background research, I came upon the tag Heritage Metal, which for me was a new one, although you’ll probably say it’s a tag that’s been around for ages but there you go. However, in many ways, it’s a very apt and descriptive kind of genre to place the band in, fuelled as they are by the colourful patchwork of Scottish history and legend.
What immediately separated Cnoc An Tursa from the field for me though was the angle they approach things from, no retro tinged cringe worthy tourist fodder here, this is kick ass Metal in its purest most undiluted form. For me, I loved the almost symphonic backdrop that the band drape their music in, conjuring images of wind swept landscapes and warring clans.
The title refers to the Callanish standing stones known as Fir Bhreig in Gaelic, translating as the false men, nothing false about this album though. ‘In Shadowland’ for example is just faultless, thundering drums, soaring solos, piercing vocals, all travelling at a hundred miles an hour, it’s just one of a big bunch of tracks that take this particular genre onto the next level. In some ways, the band remind me of Battlelore in the way that they totally immerse themselves in the culture and history of their nation and then wrap it up in a package that transcends their native homeland and has the mass appeal effect needed.
Alan Buchan comes across as the perfect frontman, his voice full of raw emotion, power and aggression. His delivery had me hooked all the way through the album, it was as if you were attending a history lesson, albeit the lecturer was a tad pissed off. Place that against epic, melodic riffs and buckets full of atmosphere and this really is an album that can not fail.
‘Culloden Moor’, another track worthy of a mention, flows seamlessly all the way through, Bryan Hamilton’s drumming is just immense, whilst the keyboards of Rene McDonald Hill creates so much atmosphere and intense feeling that it’s impossible not to become totally engrossed in what you’re listening to. Even album closer ‘Blar na h-Eaglaise Brice’, a non Metal instrumental, sits perfectly within the overall concept of the album and a beautiful piece of music it is as well.
Cnoc An Tursa have created something special with this album, a stunning blend of music, history and legend that is as uplifting as it is dark. Highly recommended.
1. The Piper O’ Dundee.
2. The Lion Of Scotland.
4. Hail Land Of My Fathers.
5. Ettrick Forest In November.
6. The Spellbound Knight.
7. In Shadowland.
8. Winter – A Dirge.
9. Culloden Moor.
10. Blar na h-Eaglaise Brice.
Cnoc An Tursa are;
Alan Buchan – Vocals.
Rene McDonald Hill – Guitars and Keyboards.
David Anderson – Bass.
Bryan Hamilton – Drums.
Out now through Candlelight Records.