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When Ategnatos, the eighth studio album from Zurich folk metal masters, Eluveitie, is released, you’re going to want to absorb every element in the most delicate and applied way possible.
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Of course, when Eluveitie tour Australia in May, performing songs from this album is likely to be an other-worldly experience. Focused heavily on the concept of archetypes and how they should be embraced in life, Ategnatos invokes the mayhem of mysticism, without being incoherent or impersonal. In a surprising combination of dark metal and beautiful Celtic melodies, it was a fairly cohesive venture for Eluveitie. “It’s what we’ve been doing [for] the last 17 years, I think,” says vocalist, Chrigel Glanzmann, “but this album was, for me, a bit more special mainly because of what was going on regarding the lyrics.
“In simple words it basically deals with Celtic mythology, but it actually goes a lot deeper than that.”
Though Eluveitie have previously had albums about Celtic mythology, there’s more to Ategnatos than just retellings of fantastical tales and legends, indeed, narratives that move on a scientific and historical level. “This time for the first time in our career, we took it to a much more personal level,” says Glanzmann. “That doesn’t mean it’s not historical and without its scientific foundations, but what the album does is to contemplate ancient parables.
“We didn’t just deal with these ancient words, but actually contemplated them as individuals. That became almost a spiritual experience.”
Glanzmann describing Ategnatos as spiritual couldn’t be more appropriate, for at times it does ring out as quite congregational, much like when members of an organised religion come together. But the idea of archetypes being attributed to this release, though it wasn’t a word Eluveitie said themselves, Glanzmann says it fits pretty well. “These ancient images the album contemplates, some of them are very old, some more than 2,500 years old.
“It doesn’t matter what year or part of the world you look at, mankind always created parables and legends, those archetypal images. Probably because of the fact that images are more able to explain certain things to us than actual words ever could.”
To get the chance to be reborn and rise up as someone, something else. That’s the core question that speaks to us.
[ Chrigel Glanzmann ]
Much like images, music can of course, do the same. And there’s something about Eluveitie’s image that has been compatible with mythologies and spirituality that they’ve addressed in their career, particularly in this album. “[Parables] are always created to tell mankind something, to tell your people something,” Glanzmann begins profoundly.
“The most striking thing to me is, and was, to realise how valid these words still are today–even though some of them happened a millennia ago, none of them have lost their importance and significance.
“[Ategnatos] is basically circling around a core of all of these allegories we’re contemplating for the album. They all have a core circling around the thought of rebirth.”
Those historical allegories of rebirth is in fact where the album title comes from. Never meant in a hinduistic way of thinking of an afterlife, Glanzmann says it’s all about the experiences of life. “Actual life,” he says. The core of the parable is that there always must be death before rebirth. “Well, interesting thing about it is that it appears often that there’s a choice.
“In life you get to a certain place where you choose if you want to die or not–quite often that comes down to a question of fear–do you dare to jump of the cliff? Do you dare to, metaphorically, die? To get the chance to be reborn and rise up as someone, something else. That’s the core question that speaks to us.”
The narration of history in a musical way has moved Glanzmann in a big way, the message so incredibly personal, it’s made Glanzmann somewhat firm minded in his perceptions of his work. There is, room for interpretation from the fans, however. “There’s all the room there could be!”
Interesting that there should be so much thematic content surrounding death and birth when what we’re hearing sounds so alive. Of course, putting a soundtrack to such deeply rooted and indeed, deeply ancient ideas is second nature to Eluveitie at this point. “We honestly don’t think too much,” laughs Glanzmann. “When creating the album, intuition was the main driving force in the process.”
“It also comes from who we are and what we’re doing. All these topics, like Celtic culture, is our culture, and something we’re dealing with since I don’t know remember– t’s been so many years–it’s part of our life, not just as a band but as persons.
“The whole topic is something that moves us–this time it felt more personal.”
Pre-order Eluveitie’s new album Ategnatos here.
Catch Eluveitie at the following dates:
ADELAIDE // Wednesday 15 May // The Gov
SYDNEY // Thursday 16 May // Manning Bar
BRISBANE // Friday 16 May // The Zoo
MELBOURNE // Saturday 18 May // Croxton Bandroom
PERTH // Sunday 19 May // Rosemount