Dalriada – Kikelet – 4/5
Thus far, this is the album that has probably taken me the longest to listen to, and feel comfortable knowing well enough to finalise an opinion on. This is neither a good nor a bad thing, as whilst I find I lose concentration on it frequent, the broad range of styles produced here soon finds something to snap back my focus.
The most prominent feature of their sound often relies on the use of vocals, both clean male and female. The female vocals maintain a level of calm, whilst being slightly nasal in their tone. This is then interspersed with deeper male vocals, utilised in a similar manner, and result in an effective, if not overtly impressive result. The backing is largely done by a simplistic guitar or keyboard melody.
What is done well, however, is the extra layer that frequently presents itself. The use of violin and flutes, the times where the keyboard has their own segment, or where male growls are used to play off the female vocals, to produce a contrasting tone, but they come far too infrequently. It feels like a fairly similar track being played each time, with a slightly different top layer. Even the vocals, the main body of the sound, feel rather monotonous, and unenthused, and contribute little to sustaining interest.
The number of different styles experimented with feels vast, from the slightly doom-esque tones, the more epic tracks, the occasional keyboard-driven tracks offsetting the guitar, the rather more boisterous introductory track, and so on, it creates a variety without straying too far from an sound identifying the band. Unfortunately, it feels rather like they’ve failed to find a niche, that one thing they do better than the rest. If I wanted synth-led folk, I’d have Equilibrium playing. Crimfall, or Moonsorrow would be my choice for epic tones, Agalloch for Folk/Doom, Kalevala for the boisterous style, and so on.
This is not a bad album by any means. It’s varied, interesting and well done. It just leaves me feeling like they could have done better, they could have explored further in one – or even all – directions, they could have made more prominent use of the violin in particular, and overall could have done more. The end result is one that feels lacklustre, in need of polishing, perhaps a touch of re-working in places, but one that has me with hopes for the future.
EDIT: Just found out their last album dropped the violin entirely. Bollocks. >.<