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(49:48; Guma Records)
TRACK LIST: 1. Sally MacLennane 3:47 2. Ordinary Man 4:17 3. Star of the County Down 5:01 4. Bonny Portmore 5:48 5. Gravel Walk 3:12 6. Spancil Hill 5:23 7. I'm a Man You Don't Meet Everyday 3:09 8. Fields of Athenry 4:34 9. Kesh Jig / Leitrim Fancy 3:29 10. Black Is the Colour 3:33 11. Foggy Dew 5:38 12. Streams of Whiskey 1:57 LINEUP: Frank Badenhop - guitars Mirko Gatje - bass Michel Wolpers - drums Dethy Borchhardt - guitars Ally Storch - violin Becky Garber - vocals with: Sergio Faga - vocals Ronnie Romero - vocals Angel Wolf-Black - vocals Liv Jagrell - vocals Eric Scheufele - guitars Eric Wirsing - guitars Iago Petroso - guitars Torsten Sauerbret - guitars Thomas Witt - guitars Sophie Lloyd - guitars Tamas Petro - guitars Julia Kosterova - guitars Giulia Marta Vallas - guitars Ivan Mihaljevic - guitars Alex Habell - guitars Yiannis Papadopoulos - guitars Brian Maillard - guitars Charlie Parra - guitars Dr. Viossy - guitars Juan M. Varona - guitars Shane Farrell - mandolin Catherine Ashcroft - Uilleann pipes Karin Badenhop - flute Nils Fischer - flute
Prolusion. German project FB1964 is the creative vehicle of composer and musician Frank Badenhop, and since 2013 he has worked with various musicians to give life to his material on three albums so far. "Irish Steel" is the most recent of these albums, and was released in 2019 through the label Guma Records.
Analysis. "Irish Steel" is an album that marks something of a departure for Badenhop, as this third album doesn't contain any of his own material. Instead, he has opted to explore Celtic music this time around, and by and large in a traditional heavy metal context at that. As was the case with his previous album "Stortebeker", the number of guest musicians makes out an elongated and rather impressive read. Musically, we are in landscapes rather far removed from progressive rock or progressive metal on this album. Traditional heavy metal is the dominant flavor of most songs, and some work will have gone into transforming both the material from known artists and the traditional folk songs that has been featured here. Tight, compact riffs is the order of the day for most songs, with a few opting for a slower pace and a more majestic guitar presence. Occasionally a lighter mode will be explored, with the acoustic guitar being more prominent, but more often than not restricted to prologue sections or interludes. The folk music aspects are given emphasis on many tracks by way of additional instruments. The fiddle comes into play on numerous occasions, most prominently as a more distantly placed overlay, and the flute and what might or might not be a Bhoudra makes appearances as well, the former more often than the latter. In addition, quite a few of the vocalists are skilled in using the vocal lines to further emphasize the folk and Celtic flavor of the original material, so that the Irish is often but not always just about as well represented here as the Steel. Like Celtic and Irish folk music in general, this album is also one that I suspect will function best when partying or having a good time. The majority of the songs are tight and energetic affairs after all, and the folk music traits explored and implemented into this metal canvas invites to beer chugging and a light and spirited mood. The album experience overall is otherwise a very professional sounding affair, although as far as I'm concerned it is the instrumentals that are the highlights, both of which strikes me as more elegant and adventurous than the rest of the material explored. That being said, personal taste in music will obviously be a deciding factor in terms of how well this album will be enjoyed by the listener.
Conclusion. FB1964 has taken a step or two to the left with the third album "Irish Steel", exploring the blend of traditional heavy metal and traditional Irish and Celtic folk music on this occasion. Opting to use both traditional folk songs and compositions penned by other artists in a similar vein as source material, the end result here is a tight, energetic and professional affair. And while this isn't an album that will find much favor among fans of progressive rock or metal, those who suspect they may be charmed by a traditional heavy metal oriented variety of Irish and Celtic folk metal should track down this CD for a check.
Progmessor: September 22nd 2019
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