ELUVEITIE – Embracing A New Beginning
April 9, 2019, 10 months ago
Folk metal titans Eluveitie have embraced change and artistic evolution on their eighth studio album Ategnatos. A Gaulish translation meaning ‘reborn’, Ategnatos is classic Eluveitie while consistently exploring new and exciting sonic pathways.
Founding member and vocalist Chrigel Glanzmann caught up with BraveWords for a crash course in Celtic metal and an in-depth exploration on the bands’ most spontaneous album to date.
BraveWords: I want to take a dive back in time and explore why you chose to merge heavy death metal with Celtic and folk influences? Did you have an interest in the Celtic side of music from a younger age?
Chrigel: “It’s always been a topic (I’ve loved). I don’t know why this is or where it originally came from, but the Celtic culture has always been an important part of my life since I can remember. Even in kindergarten, I grew up with that. But it’s not that farfetched. I grew up in Switzerland. If you go to school back in the day when I went, in your first history lessons you hear about the history of your country, so you hear about all the Gaulish tribes and all of that. There are a lot of Celtic sides in Switzerland. But it’s always been an important part of my life. That was kind of a given when I started to make music. Musically when I formed Eluveitie, it was basically the realization of a long-year dream that I had to bring the two kinds of music together in one band. I just wanted to combine both in one band.”
BraveWords: Take me through your process for songwriting and conceptualizing an album. When you’re dealing with Celtic mythology and even historical events, is there a massive amount of research and study involved?
Chrigel: “Absolutely. To us it’s really super important that everything we talk about (is accurate) and it’s not just mythological stuff. Depending on the type of album, it’s also historical. To us it’s super important that all of this is historically correct and scientifically well founded. From day one since I’ve formed the band, I’ve always done a lot of research on my own and I read a lot, but I always asked for help from scientists, actually.
“You know how it is, over the years you get to know each other and become friends. One scientist knows the other and one becomes an expert in something and so on. Today, after 17 years now, we’re kind of a friendship based network of historians and scientists of different universities from all over Europe that actually work together and come to create the new Elvueitie album. There’s a lot of thoughts going into an album and a lot of research as well. Each Eluveitie album is like a little scientific project actually.”
BraveWords: It’s been said that Ategnatos has been one of the more spontaneous and free-flowing albums for the band to date, with a much more team dynamic and all-hands-on-deck feel than in the past. How was that process? And how difficult is it to navigate and draw inspiration for a band with upwards to ten members at times?
Chrigel: “Much more than it used to be in the past, definitely. No, it doesn’t feel difficult. The album grew very organically. I would call intuition the main driving force in the creative process. This never was a decision, it was just a development of where the band went over the past couple of years. Back in the day 10 years ago, I literally did everything. I composed every single note for each instrument and I did all of the artwork for the album, all of the merchandise, the website, everything. It has changed over the years, which I think is a very good thing. I still do all of the concepts and the lyrics and write a lot of music and the artwork, but it’s like teamwork. With the last three years and especially the current lineup that we have, it’s a development and the atmosphere within the band is really creative, but also really familial.
“When we recorded the second part of the acoustic album that was, for us, a pretty different studio experience. A lot of things of that album had been open for spontaneous creativity in the studio. That’s what happened. Basically the whole production time all the band was there, even the band members who weren’t recording were there just to be there. Every corner of the studio band members were sitting together brooding over some details or jamming, and out of that a lot of things arose that eventually went onto the album. It’s a way that we’ve developed over the past couple of years and this development went on and even got stronger. On Ategnatos we worked together as a group of musicians and a people more than ever in our history, which is a beautiful thing I think.”
BraveWords: How did your collaboration with Lamb Of God’s Randy Blythe on the track “Worship” come to be? I think it’s a pairing not many metal fans would expect, but it works to perfection here with his narration and backing vocals.
Chrigel: “That was one of the many, many spontaneous occurrences that took place during the recording process of the album. This time we really didn’t have much time to record because the studio was booked out and we had about half the time we usually have in the studio. It was almost rushed and chaotic on one side but also creative and spontaneous. There were a lot of things just happening and occurring that we never would have expected and this was one of them.
“It was one night after a guitar recording session. I was sitting in the kitchen of the studio with Jonas and we were discussing the intro of the song “Worship”. It has this really long, kind of cinematic but also modern kind of intro. We were talking about it and agreed that our usual voiceover artist that we normally work with wouldn’t be right ... for some reason we ended up thinking that an American accent would probably fit best. I don’t know why exactly, but maybe because it has a cinematic feel to it or something.
“We started thinking about who we could ask and at some point Jonas came up with Randy. Randy and I have been friends for many years. I sent him a message on the phone and asked him if he would have time to do that. You have no idea what Lamb of God is doing at the moment, and had no idea if they were in studio or busy. The very convenient and cool thing is they were on tour in Europe, playing in Switzerland and Zürich ... It was just a perfect coincidence. A couple of days later we went to the venue, picked Randy up, brought him to the studio and he did the narration. He also spontaneously really liked the song and added additional vocals to the chorus. It was cool and we thought it sounded cool.”
BraveWords: How do you assess the position of Eluveitie following Ategnatos? This feels like the start of a new chapter for the band that is truly happening 13 years deep into your careers.
Chrigel: “I think each album we record is kind of a reflection of where we are at the moment. I don’t really know why and how, but at the moment we feel we are in a very creative phase. The atmosphere within the band is great. We’re constantly working on stuff and working on the next projects. It feels really good. I think and I hope that people can hear this from the album Ategnatos.”