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Caladmor - Of Stones And Stars

Caladmor - CD Review
Of Stones And Stars


CD Info
11 Tracks
Multilingual Lyrics

You’d have to be an expert linguist to follow all the lyrics on Caladmor’s newest album. While most of the lyrics are in English, the band also does songs in German, Middle High German and Old Norse.

This in no way detracts from the charm of the album. We metal people listen to fantastic bands who sing in the languages of dozens of countries. Some of us also listen to classical opera in Italian, German, French, Spanish and other languages. When the music is good, the voices become musical instruments.

Of Stones And Stars is most certainly good music. I’d recommend Caladmor to fans of Eluveitie, Arkona and Dalriada… because Caladmor doesn’t sound like any of those bands. Instead, they deliver a similar style of folk metal but in their own way and through their unique compositions.

Caladmor’s line-up of instrumentalists includes Nick Müller and Mäsi Stettler on guitars, Mäcka Sauter on bass, and Maede Baumann on drums, synths and second vocals. Fronting the band is Barbara Brawand with her range of vocal styles, which extend from highly energetic to mellow and from operatic to moodily Gothic.

There is a lyrical Eluveitie presence on the album. Caladmor and Eluveitie are both Swiss bands and they’re buddies. We fans are constantly impressed by the extent which metal bands support, encourage and promote each other. Caladmor’s relationship with Eluveitie is a fine example of metal kinship. Chrigel Glanzmann of Eluveitie, a staunch ally of Caladmor, makes guest appearances on three Of Stones And Stars songs. He plays the whistles and Uilleann pipes on “Dawn of the Deceiver” as well as the pipes on “Heralds of Doom”.

Glanzmann himself has emphasized that he didn’t try to influence the music or the styles on the album. It’s all Caladmor’s work. Barbara Brawand collaborated with Martin Baumann to compose the lyrics for eight of the 11 songs. Of the other three songs, “Alvíssmál” is taken from the 13th century Old Norse Poetic Edda, “Laudine’s Lament” draws from the 12th century novel “Iwein” by Hartmann von Aue, and “Mimirs Born” is a poem written by A. Kaiser-Langerhans in the 19th century.

The contribution of a second guest musician, Joel Gilardini of The Land of the Snow, Lunatic Fringe and Mulo Muto, is just as substantial and praiseworthy. He plays the eloquent guitar solos on “Dawn of the Deceiver”, “Laudine’s Lament” and “Mimirs Born”.

Caladmor started in 2001 with the name of Pale. The name change came before the 2010 release of their first album, Midwinter. The band’s website explains the motivation for the new name: “The meaning of the name – ‘dark light’ – is a significant paradox marking the music of Caladmor. Epic tunes create epic wideness, thundering guitar riffs and stirring melodies meet the vocals of Babs and drummer Maede, leading the listener on a philosophical path through the land of myths from exhilarating heights down to the edge of an abyss.”

Two elements that add a wealth of richness to the album are the use of two guitars and the counterpoint of two vocalists. The band isn’t exaggerating about the “thundering guitar riffs”. Nick Müller and Mäsi Stettler complement each other to great effect. In the vocal department, Maede Baumann’s dark, harsh tenor contrasts and harmonizes beautifully with Barbara Brawand’s soprano.

There is one quirk in the vocal delivery by Babs. There are times, notably on “Curse of the Gods” and “Dawn of the Deceiver”, where it feels as if she is pushing herself off key. Of course she proves me wrong by staying perfectly on key for “A Nymph’s Lure”, a similarly powerful song. Overall, her control is good. Yet on those two songs I mentioned, she reminds me of Kate Pierson forcing a kind of dissonance in her vocals for The B-52’s.

Compositionally, Of Stones And Stars ventures beyond the usual bounds of folk metal. The variety in the songs embraces slower, more somber Gothic doom and symphonic operatic metal as well as less rapid-fire prog metal. And if you want to play someone a song that defines folk metal, put on “Taberna Trollis”.

My main overall impression is that Caladmor had damn good fun recording this album. Not even the darker lyrics can hide the enjoyment they seem to have had in the studio.

We gonna die and we shall not forget.
Heaven and Hell won’t regret.

I bet they were wearing huge, infectious grins when they played those lines.

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