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Anwynn - Forbidden Songs
CD Reviews
Written by Doctor T.   
Saturday, 04 August 2012
Anwynn - CD Review
Forbidden Songs
Anwynn - Forbidden Songs

 

CD Info

2012
M & O / Belgium

11 Tracks

English Lyrics

 

Anwynn has been around for a while, but this is their first full length release. The band is from Belgium, and will be on the bill for the 2012 MFVF in that country, their second appearance. Their live act, fully armed with weaponry from the old days, and complete with kilts, suggests a Celtic influence, and they music confirms this suspicion. It’s a curious mix of musical styles; they actually call it Celtic Metal, but there are several styles that probably deviate from that normative description in a statistically significant way, at least the music. The lyrics, well, I guess I can go with the Celtic there. They appear to be a pretty good live act, although the videos I watched were less than overwhelming. What you have in the mix are a solid mezzo soprano doing much of the heavy lifting, with a brutal death metal vocal augmenting that sound. There’s an adequate keyboard symphonic, and a really hot keyboardist playing it. Beyond that, there are two guitars and the drummer, each carrying a sword that would scare anyone other than the typical American armed to the teeth with AK-47s, Glocks and assorted explosives. But, the musical style deviates from one track to the next; you get a hard metal one minute, a ballad with a lovely female lead the next, followed up with some actual Celtic music that would work in any Celtic bar anywhere.

Our female lead is Amandine and she has the requisite classical vocal to make sure we have a classical Gothic component, assuming you tie the vocal to that classification scheme. The male vocals come from Bouc, who is one of the larger men you’ll see in a kilt in public and he can probably put the fear of God in pretty much anyone once he starts swinging the sword from Braveheart around. It’s clearly a B & B approach, pretty much on every track. And, given their live performance schedule, it must be pretty popular in Western Europe, and they do appear to cover most of it. The symphonics take several tacts as well. On some they’re used to open and then provide a light background. On others, the involvement is a little more intense. But, on every track we get solid guitars, this band, in my opinion, is a guitar / drum driven musical beast, one whose intent is to provide thunder to the valley. Or the local saloon being as how the guys seem to keep a flask, well, actually a horn, of something that clearly isn’t lemonade at their sides full time and drink from said horn regularly during performance. Ahh, it’s a band after me own heart, someone pass the Meade. I’m feeling a bit of a thirst coming on.

There’s some interesting dichotomy on the CD. We go from a hauntingly lovely power ballad, Lost in Avalon, where the focus is the lovely mezzo soprano, slightly augmented by the paleolithic sounds of Gork, I mean Bouc, the Destroyer of Worlds to the thundering guitar driven sounds of tracks like Conquistador where Gork, er, Bouc, seems to rule the realms of the underworld. Avalon sees the band going with something that almost sounds like an acoustic guitar, probably not since I don’t think the band is on a first name basis with the concept, but you get that feeling anyway. And here, the lovely vocalist almost sounds like she decided to make a separate recording. Not really a lot of Celtic here, other than maybe in the broadest interpretation of the concept, at least musically. Lyrically, on the other hand, this clearly provides us with a fine interpretation of the concept:

Anwynn, cauldron of life
If only I could find a path / To the place where you are
Open your gates to the brave / And the ones who have failed

Towards to completion of the track, the guitars seem to bring us back to reality as heavy metal returns to the environment and all returns to normal.

Across the Seven Seas is the most Celtic track on the CD. We don’t really get a violin but they use the guitars and keyboards to make it sound that way. And the music is clearly designed to capture the look and feel of the Emerald Isle. Again, it’s a B & B interpretation of the Celtic sound, and both vocalists seem to have the approach down pretty well, don’t think I’ve heard something like this before. About midway through, the guitars cut loose and provide a guitar driven sound that drives the Celtic to a higher energy level and we get a truly rewarding interpretation of that musical style.

Glorious Highlander is another one that seems to favor the Celtic more than the metal, although the metal is never really not in the mix somewhere. But, we do get a little more keys here, they seem to tone down the audacity of the music somewhat. And the lyrics celebrate the Highlands:

Be proud of your lakes / Be proud of your hills
Be proud of your clans / Be proud of your lands
Glorious Highlander. . .

Another track that takes us in interesting directions is Cum Cantici Veniunt, don’t have a clue what that means and it’s only a minute and a half, but it clearly demonstrates that the band can do the classical. This one sounds like what we get on the first track of your typical Gothic, no vocals, just classical symphonic sounds. The do lead to another interesting track, Free, which is somewhat less oriented towards the heavy metal that predominates. Here, the female vocal drives the sound and we get more keys. And even the lyrics seem to approach the Gothic, not a regular part of the message here:

In my dreams I see a horse / As pale as a ghost
I feel my rage inside / do you feel the same
Controlling my anger / Should I take the power
Like caught between two worlds in the deepest chaos

No Victory, however, takes the metal slaughter in a darker metal direction. This one brings on a death like sound, as if from a battlefield, complete with some angelic sounds, both human and instrumentally made to darken our emotion. It’s heavily vocally driven with the instrumentalists there to set the tone and emotive perspectives. And, I suspect, this one plays rather well in live performance, I can see the swords swinging and the heads falling, a joy to the heart of all Celtic warriors. . both real and imagined.

Well, what we have here is a Celtic metal alright. And, there is some quality music to be appreciated, and some lovely Belgiums to supply the eye candy. So get your tickets for MFVF, sharpen your swords and get the Meade ready. The band will have theres and you don’t want to be left out.

9 / 10

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