April 5th will see Eluveitie dropping their first metal record since a complete lineup overhaul and release of their second acoustic record. Ategnatos, released through Nuclear Blast, is definitely an event long-anticipated by fans of the band curious to see how this new ensemble holds up with some new heavy material.
Ategnatos is a quality record, though it does unfortunately simultaneously see the band falling into tropes they’ve built for themselves, and ditching some of their rinse-and-repeat songwriting structures and in turn putting out somewhat weaker material. The title and intro track, once again, sees narration by Alexander Morton, who makes more appearances sprinkled throughout the album. What began as something new and interesting in Helvetios has now developed into what feels a bit like a cheesy shortcut. In the same way a lot of bands mean “having orchestral bits” when they say epic, Eluveitie seems to have used the wise-sounding old Scottish fellow as their shortcut to epic.
On the other end, the Eluveitie song structure has been established as a folk tune layered over pounding melodic death metal, then a modulation at the end to finish things up. A fair amount of songs have ditched that structure in this record, but haven’t replaced the architecture with anything that has a similar strength.
That isn’t to say that there’s really any bad song on this record. There are even a fair number of standouts. “The Raven Hill” has a touch of really old school Eluveitie, like from Ven or Spirit, and Fabienne’s singing fits a lot better in the album overall than it did in Evocation II. “Mine is the Fury” is one of the hardest and heaviest Eluveitie songs to come out in a long while and “The Slumber” is a catchy little earworm with a great low whistle solo in the middle. “Trinoxtion” features the same spoken word that introduced Slania and leads into “Threefold Death,” which hits even harder than “Mine is the Fury.”
Ategnatos is a good album, though after Eluveitie’s long history and extensive discography, it’s an offering that doesn’t quite stand out from the rest of their catalog. Still, recommended.