Recent high-profile folk metal releases have been largely disappointing, and one often finds himself turning towards the underground for a fix of folk metal or folk-influenced metal. Sirocco hails from Ireland, and Lambay is its brand new, third full length album. Ireland has seen music that have been heavily influenced by Celtic music such as its famous Irish punk bands, so it would be rather interesting to hear the results of the fusion of Celtic and heavy metal.
Azure introduces the listener to the album, a rather atmospheric introductory track that sets up the ambience for the band with a traditional folk instrument playing a single note throughout the track and some accompanying keys, giving a somewhat melancholic mood to the music at the same time though things do start to get slightly uneasy as the track transits into the first proper track, Lambay. The album starts off rather slowly, with the first few tracks being largely of a mid-pace, and is unlike other folk metal bands that either have a celebratory mood or heroic feel to them, resulting in the album being one that is slow to captivate the listener. Rather, the melodies that are present on the album and the song structures all seem to have a tinge of sadness to them. Even the aggressive moments are rather slow and lack that heavy edge to sufficiently bring out the impact of the riffs, causing the music to sound weaker than they should really be.
Furthermore, vocalist Ciaran sounds quite out of place in the band, lacking that “heroic” quality that one typically looks for in folk metal bands, and there are moments where he almost reminds me of vocalists such as James Hetfield, though with a smoother vocal quality, especially with the way he chooses to drag out certain words in the lyrics. That isn’t to say anything about his vocal range though, as he is more than capable at hitting the required notes and is a rather competent vocalist. Fortunately then, that the instrumentation on the album more than makes up for this mismatch. While I have previously mentioned the lack of impact of the riffs, truth be told, the music and the melodies that are unleashed by Owens and Tobin can get really catchy and addictive. There are even moments that display a slight Maiden influence, such as the opening riffs of Fallow; Unearth sounding like a heavier and folk-infused version of Out of the Shadows. Ciaran is also extremely talented on his bass, with the bass being rather prominent in the mix throughout the album, allowing him to really shine, with his playing at times being more of a lead melodic style rather than being satisfied with its rhythmic role. The instrumental Tempest brings about a slight classical and melancholic feel as well.
While it is true that the album starts off rather weakly, as the album progresses things start to look up, making Lambay a pretty good release. Also, the excellent playing of the individual band members and that nice, spacey atmosphere definitely make things bearable on the weaker moments on the album. One indeed has to listen to the album in its entirety in order to fully absorb the genius of Sirocco‘s Lambay.
Sirocco on the internet: