Release: 1 September 2023
Ekyrian is a huge nine-member folk metal band from Spain and “Cuentos junto a la hoguera” (“Stories by the Campfire”– as depicted by the lovely album art) is their third album. We’re in the lush forests of the “folk” side of folk metal. More specifically, the album sounds like some of the other lighter, pop/rock-adjacent folk metal acts from Spain (like Saurom and Mägo de Oz). The great thing about having such a big band is all the talent and instrumentation they bring to party. The first notes of the first song bum-rush the listener, and it’s all head-boppin’ catchy melodies for the next hour.
The vocals are clear and this kind of music really lends itself to joining in the songs. Ekyrian would be a blast to see live. The instrumentation is a real treat: each song has its own life and sound by swapping these instruments in and out. I’m talkin’ violins, whistles and flutes, an accordion, and a keyboard providing cool padding and an organ. There are some great performances, too. The bass is especially noticeable at one of the tracks in the middle third of the album. It would’ve been nice to hear more, but that’s more a criticism of the genre, which tends to move quickly on to the next thing. And for the folks who like traditional metal, the electric guitar is quiet in the mix and given just a few seconds to shine in one of the songs.
So, let’s look at the tracks in this jaunty party of an album: In the past, Ekyrian has given their female vocalist an entire song, but here she makes a brief appearance in “La Balada de Wilfred el Enano” (The Ballad of Wilfred the Dwarf). It’s amazing and makes the song stand out. “El Peregrino de las Estrellas” (The Pilgrim of the Stars) is my favorite track, and not just for the engaging title. It has a kind of Jethro Tull vibe, some harmonizing vocals, rollicking rhythm and catchy melody and a little power-metal guitar riffs near the end. The rest of the songs are consistently good, but that’s great. I also caught myself listening to “El Alquimista” (The Alchemist) a few times for also just having a great and eclectic mix. I’m a little sad that this is the tenth out of eleven songs. It would’ve been great to end the album on such a high note.
Great writing, amazing instrumentation and production quality. For me, it’d be fun to learn more Spanish just to sing along with some of these tracks. If you’re a fan of the genre, this is a class act. Check it out!
- Ekyrian 04:35
- La balada de Wilfred el Enano 04:58
- Kaguya 06:28
- Ítaca 04:52
- El peregrino de las estrellas 06:12
- El rey blanco 05:29
- El templo del mar 05:29
- Entre fuegos y estrellas 03:45
- Alas de madera 06:13
- El alquimista 04:23
- Volverte a soñar 04:08