Album: Everything Remains (As it Never Was)
Label: Nuclear Blast Records
Having taken a break from heavy metal to release an acoustic album in 2009, 2010 meant a fast return for Eluveitie with another heavy album, the “metal” followup to the acclaimed Slania from 2008. While we missed the official 10th anniversary, which took place back on February 19th, we nevertheless thought this was a good year to reevaluate our feelings on the album.
The main purpose of revisiting this album personally is to see if our rather harsh opinion of it from 2010 holds up 10 years later. I personally remember the hype for this album being real with some of the first album trailers I’d ever seen used for promotion. Everyone in the band was wildly excited about the album and I believe Anna Murphy (ex-hurdy-gurdy & vocals) can be quoted to have said she might dare to say the album was perfect.
Then the band released “Thousandfold” and we were sold. The pure epic Celtic metal single represented the band at their finest and we were sure that Everything Remains (As it Never Was) was about to be a life-changing masterpiece. To this day, critical responses to the album have largely referred to this album as a great success with average ratings around 9/10.
However, to this day, whenever a band releases an incredible first single that the rest of the album can’t hold a torch to, we’ve referred to it as “Thousandfolding.” As such, we thought it would be interesting to revisit this album after a decade to see if we were being too harsh on it and if time and distance have softened our opinions. Was it the over-hyping of the album that put up our walls?
Listen along on Spotify:
Opening with “Otherworld,” things don’t seem quite so dire. The song is a beautiful instrumental Eluveitie piece that has clearly paved the way for arguably better intros to come in more recent albums. It’s not their finest work but it’s a perfectly good opener. This is followed by the title track, which has a lot of the near-blasting aggression that can be found in other classics like “Primordial Breath”; this is not my favorite style that Eluveitie uses but for fans of the more harder, more metal side of their music, this may be more palatable.
By the third track, we find ourselves faced with our beloved “Thousandfold.” With a perfect blend of catchy, memorable melodies, masterful blends of folk instruments and really fantastic hudry-hurdy lines, capped with some of Chrigel Glanzmann’s clearest and strongest growls, the song indeed holds up to how great we thought it was back in 2010. Even the music video had impressed us with its vivid colors and beautiful setting.
“Nil” is a more lively song with some pleasant perky violins but when the regular metal instruments take over, the song goes into a bit of a slump, simply sawing at basic notes, as opposed to the wild and creative folk melodies from the other instruments that have gone silent. It creates an imbalance where the verses become fillers as you wait for the folk instruments to kick in, sounding like they’re compensating for technicality with speed (at least according to the phantom). “The Essence of Ashes” has a strong but simple opening melody followed by an interesting 90s heavy metal -sounding guitar part that roughly transitioned into something simpler as the vocals begin. The simplicity of the song is its weakness, with the singalong parts having no real oomph, especially without mixing contrasting cleaner vocals in with the growls.
Reaching “Isara,” we come to the next instrumental. A mid- or even slow-tempo song focusing largely on flute melodies, it upkeeps Eluveitie’s more or less stainless reputation in instrumental music without being particularly memorable. “Kingdom Come Undone” returns to their more aggressive side and to my ear doesn’t really do anything that their past metal songs haven’t done better. The use of a brief snare drum is a bit of an unusual choice for a moment but it otherwise manages to remain a basic Eluveitie song that to me feels like filler.
The only other song on the album that we had really appreciated before was “Quoth the Raven.” Featuring Anna Murphy in the harmonies getting pushed to whole new levels at this point in her career, the song managed to be so powerful that it inspired Jukka Karinen to ask her to sing female vocals on Status Minor’s Ouroboros album in 2011. The song largely rides on the vocals, particularly in the chorus, as well as the later part where Murphy lets out a rather impressive growl.
Compared to the former, “(Do)Minion” has and remains rather straightforward; the mid-tempo beat coupled with pounding, unchanging drums, followed by crushing guitars may work well enough for moshers, I would even argue that it’s too slow to mosh to properly, ergo the aggression makes the song a bit bland. “Setlon” is another instrumental, again slower with perky flutes, but relies too much on the flare of the trills than its own melody.
“Sempiternal Embers” has one of the coolest song names of all time and feels very traditional Eluveitie, with a sweeter balance between the fast forward-pushes and Celtic instruments, leaning toward the metal side of the spectrum. “Lugdunon” certainly shakes the sound up with a droning intro and a very different beat and feel from anything else on the album. To my personal taste, I find the opening melody a bit annoying, but that’s subjective. The lyrics in the chorus benefit from Murphy singing in the background, but we’ve always misheard Glanzmann’s growling as it’s just clear enough to almost understand. The song gains points for originality and being one of the most interesting songs on the album, though it never made it onto my permanent playlists.
The album wraps things up with “The Liminal Passage,” the final instrumental that makes use of either pipes or hurdy-gurdy with the main melody, dressed up atmospherically until a sharp wind-up and ends with a quiet spoken voice.
In the end, I hold to my past opinion that this album was highly overrated. While the band’s skill and ability to make heavy music from Celtic tunes, sounds, and instruments is unquestionable, the album hardly has any material that takes what they’ve already done to another level. Especially following so closely behind the delightful Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion the previous year, a fully acoustic step away from the norm for the band, this album by comparison has always been one of the band’s least memorable to us.
Rating: 6.5/10, 3 stars
2. Everything Remains as it Never Was
5. The Essence of Ashes
7. Kingdom Come Undone
8. Quoth the Raven
11. Sempiternal Embers
13. The Liminal Passage