Monday 18 December 2023

Tuatha de Danann - The Nameless Cry (2023)

Country: Brazil
Style: Folk Metal
Rating: 7/10
Release Date: 1 Dec 2023
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My favourite Celtic folk metal band from Brazil is back and that phrase seems less surprising each time that I write it. They're also back playing folk metal again after In Nomine Éireann in 2020, an album that dipped just as often into rock. This is their sixth studio album but I've only been aware of them since The Tribes of Witching Souls EP in 2019 and haven't caught up with their earlier work yet. I should, not because it sounds like this but because it probably doesn't, given that they're on Prog Archives listed as prog folk, as their previous name of Pendragon might suggest.

Maybe there's a remnant of that prog mindset here, especially in the keyboards of Edgard Britto, but it's far from dominant. This is folk metal, firmly Celtic with prominent flutes and whistles and mostly Celtic melodies. I say mostly because I heard Magnum-esque melodies in Untitled, and that shifts its sound over the Irish Sea to be a more English influenced song, as well as one with more of a commercial rock tinge. That song is heavied up but A Fragile Whisper to a Raging Roar after it, a song which often feels as English as it is Irish, also stays firmly rock in its verses, before the crunch kicks back in.

My favourite track here is far more Celtic, even though it pumps up the power metal aspect that's never too far away to the max. It's The Rabble's Cry, oddly for me the shortest full song here, and it stirs the blood nicely. The one English moment comes during a wonderful instrumental run during the midsection, because it's a spotlight-passing part that shifts from fiddle to guitar to Hammond organ, back to fiddle and then to vocals again. For that moment of Hammond organ, we're firmly in Uriah Heep territory, which surprised me but works well in this Celtic context.

It's the flutes of Bruno Maia, also the band's guitarist, that always nudge it back to Éire. Most of these songs start out with him on flute, not least The Nameless to open up the album, but also an impressive pair of tracks much later on, The Virgin's Tower and Clown. I should mention here that the former kicks off with a deep harsh vocal from bassist Giovani Gomes before giving way to the guest female vocals of Daísa Munhoz, a Brazilian power metal singer best known for a band called Vandroya, though I know her from her prior guest contributions to Tuatha de Danann releases.

That shift works really well as a transition, something that they do a few times on this album. The opener features another moment like that that's also brief but also wonderful. Bruna Maia is also the lead vocalist in Tuatha de Danann and he's singing clean on The Nameless when Gomes comes in with his harsh voice as a neat underline to him right before the song drops away from vocals to a dancing flute section. I listened to that transition a bunch of times and it's unusual but masterful. I'm less sold on the electronically manipulated vocal that wraps up that instrumental passage and returns at the end of the song, as well as in the brief interlude called Spark.

There is another guest here, but I'm only aware of two this time out, compared to a whole slew of them on In Nomine Éireann. He's Hugo Mariutti, also Brazilian and, while he seems to have begun in thrash metal, he moved quickly into heavy/power metal where he's stayed for thirty years. He's a guitarist and so presumably contributes to the guitars on A Fragile Whisper to a Raging Roar in some fashion, though it's the vocal melody and the proggy keyboards that stand out most on this one. The vocals feel softer than elsewhere, though, so maybe Mariutti stepped in as a singer.

This is another strong album from Tuatha de Danann. While I'm not as surprised as I was in 2019 to hear Celtic folk metal from a Brazilian band, I'm just as eager to hear more. They're not the most prolific band out there but even COVID hasn't pushed them back to gaps like the eleven year one between Trova di Danú in 2004 and Dawn of a New Sun in 2015. I still don't know how big the Celtic folk metal scene is in southern Brazil but it's presumably large enough to sustain them right now, so I look forward to album number seven in a few years time.

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