This band’s progression from a typical Black Metal sound to a more Pagan/Celtic sound is getting more and more pronounced every release. The Middle Kingdom sounds a Hell of a lot more Celtic than Metal and in the case of Cruachan, this isn’t really a bad thing. Their first album hinted that this would be the direction that they would take and they didn’t disappoint. One of the things that marred their debut was the fact that they seemed restrained by traditional Metal instruments. They literally sounded like they wanted to ditch their guitars and Skyclad-ish vocals but they just didn’t know how. This is a much more solid Celtic Metal fusion though some of it sounds a bit too “upbeat” for my taste. The addition of a female lead vocalist threw me for a bit, but after I recovered from the surprise and got used to the idea that this band wasn’t going to “gloom and doom” me to death, I enjoyed this album quite a bit.
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