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Eluveitie Interview

A Conversation With Guitarist Chrigel Glanzmann




Nuclear Blast Records
The Swiss band Eluveitie just released their second full-length CD, Slania. They will be heading to the U.S. as part of Pagan Fest along with Ensiferum, Turisas and Tyr. Eluveitie’s guitarist Chrigel Glanzmann fills us in on the band’s history, upcoming tour and many other topics.

Chad Bowar: Give us a short history of your band.
Chrigel: Eluveitie’s an 8 headed folk metal band from Helvetia, Switzerland. Musically we’re melting together modern styled melodic death metal and traditional Celtic folk music. It is very important to us that both function well together, both are on equal footing and both are accomplished. Guess this is also what makes us stand out from the masses in the genre. Speaking of “traditional” and authentically played folk music, this is also the reason why we’re 8 members, for we really want to include all these traditional acoustic folk-instruments (also on stage). I founded the band in early 2003, and it was originally more something like a mere studio project. After our first output Vên (released October 2003) was ardently received by the scene and press, some musicians of the studio lineup (Meri, Sevan & myself) decided to form a “real” band out of the project Eluveitie. For the other musicians that didn’t join in due to the lacking of time, we searched replacements.

How has the band’s sound progressed from Spirit to Slania?
We just naturally develop. The songwriting gets more mature and mellow and so on. Our musical progression is a very natural one. So, to me Slania is the logical consequence after Spirit. Of course we always like to try out new things, too. For example there’s a children’s choir in one song, which isn’t that common for a metal band, I guess.

What also clearly gets better from release to release is the mixing and the production. Mixing a lineup like ours definitely isn’t the easiest thing. It’s quite tricky to get all of the overall 15 different instruments (without the different vocal lines & choirs) heard. It’s something that needs experience. And so we learn to do it better from album to album. As well it was a good thing to produce together with Jens Bogren, who is a very able producer indeed.

What does the album title signify?
There’s actually no deeper meaning behind the name Slania. We were looking for a good album title. On day, while I was researching on some gaulish inscripts, I stumbled across the ancient epitaph of a girl that lived about 2500 years ago in the eastern Helvetic Alps and that was named Slania. We immediately fell in love with that name and so an album title was found. But that’s all. To us Slania is simply a nice and artistic. The little Slania (which you can also see on the album cover) takes the listener by the hand and leads him back in time and tells him about her people and their life.

I wouldn’t call Slania a concept album. But nevertheless there’s kind of a red line through the album. The thematic focus is on a central aspect of Celtic mythology, the “great wheel,” which simply is the cycle of the year with the four seasons. This may sound a bit profane to some, but it was something very important and central in the Celtic culture.

In the Celtic calendar there are four main feasts (each one of them standing for one season) and we dedicated one instrumental track to each of those four feasts. So actually you can say that the album is running through one year of the Celtic calendar.

You are described as being a “Pagan Metal” band. What exactly does that encompass?
Well, due to our music we obviously kinda belong to the “Pagan Metal” genre, but that’s actually something defined by the press or by the scene. We don’t care that much about labels, to be honest. For ourselves we once came up with our own definition “new wave of folk metal,” simply because we’re not too much into the whole “pagan” scene thing of today. Of course, old traditions and ancient cultures and especially the one of our ancestors mean a lot to us. But we’re not that much into mead-blessed, corny hymns about brawny, unbelievably brave warriors jumping joyously at war and stuff like that. Also regarding musical aspects, I think we stand out from the masses to some degree. Our metal is pretty elaborate (for example the riffing) and not “old schoolish” at all (like it is often heard in Pagan Metal), the “folk aspect” in our sound receives a remarkable large room in our music - it’s on equal footing with the metal instruments and it’s also very important to us, that it’s implemented in a really traditional and authentic way.

How did you decide to work with producer Jens Bogren?
We checked out many studios and producers while we prepared for the production of Slania. There were some few studios on our short list and in the end we decided on Jens. We intensely checked out his producing so far and it really convinced us. He really makes it a contemporary, fat and powerful production, which yet still sounds very natural and is “naturally dirty”. That’s exactly what we wanted.

How was that experience?
It was great. The whole recording/engeneering and producing process was a very intense and exhausting but also really great and enjoyable time. Jens is kind of a perfectionist (which we like a lot). He can be damn merciless! But that’s the best thing that can happen to you when you’re recording.

Did you record the album in multiple locations?
Yes, we first recorded all the metal instruments (drums, bass, guitars and vocals) at Jens’ Fascination Street Studios in Sweden. After that the fiddles were recorded at the Devils Studio in Liechtenstein. The rest of the acoustic folk instruments we recorded in Zürich, Switzerland. For the mixing of everything and the mastering we went to Sweden again

What are your expectations for the album?
We love it. And we hope that our fans will love it too! And like we always did, we also work our asses off now to move forward. And so we hope (and also believe) that our new album will have quite an impact on this.

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