I don’t know if Cnoc An Tursa can be considered part of the British Heritage scene. They share stylistic similarities and a love of their land’s ancient past with bands like Winterfylleth, Wodensthrone, and Forefather, but technically speaking, they’re not of British heritage. Scots are Celtic in origin, as opposed to the Germanic Britons, Angles and Saxons. Genetically, they’re closer to the Irish (also Celts, and technically their cousins) than they are to the Britons. That, and the centuries that they spent killing the British probably didn’t help either. The Giants of Auld is an exploration of the history, landscape and mythology of the Scottish Celts and their land. There’s plenty of cool stuff to write about without resorting to creating fictional alternate histories like Gloryhammer does. There are no dragons, wizards or invading armies of unicorns here. It’s more than a little nationalistic, to be sure. These guys love Scotland and it shows. They don’t, however, have much bagpipe on this album. I know that’s going to disappoint folks who only associate Scotland with kilts and bagpipes. I doubt that this album would have been as awesome as it is if they decided that bagpipes were the be-all-end-all instrument that encompasses all of Scottish music. Musically, The Giants of Auld is hard hitting but also very melodic. When I first heard about the band, I expected them to be more like Waylander or Cruachan (Tuatha Na Gael era), fusing Black Metal with traditional Celtic melodies and instrumentation. My expectation was that they were going to go for the traditional Celtic stuff as the emphasis (Beer Tent Metal, in other words). This LP doesn’t go there. The Giants of Auld is definitely more Black Metal in style, but of the melodic variety. The riffing isn’t very complex, but the melodies and atmosphere carry this album. Cnoc An Tursa leaves playing at the Renaissance Faire for other bands. This is some seriously epic stuff. The songs also show a lot of refinement. Everything flows well and the music is very impactful. The band was formed in 2006, but this is their debut album. Their only previous release was an untitled 3-song demo from 2008 (all of its songs were re-recorded for this LP). Hopefully, Cnoc An Tursa won’t take five more years to produce a follow-up, but if it’s of the same quality as The Giants of Auld, it will definitely be worth the wait.
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