Early on in their career, Cruachan pioneered a sound that combined Celtic Folk music with Black Metal. The Middle Kingdom sees them leaving behind the Black Metal side completely. There’s often more “Folk” than “Metal” here. That is not necessarily a bad thing. I suppose it depends on individual tastes. These tracks have more in common with Skyclad than they do with the brilliant Primordial. The music is fairly well-produced, but Karen Gilligan’s vocals get overbearing at times. The title track is definitive evidence that a male vocalist would be better suited to this type of music. An album’s worth of Keith Fay’s scathing vocals, such as those found on the title track, would have made The Middle Kingdom a masterpiece! Cruachan does have the potential to be a great band. They are not lacking in the song-writing department. These songs are varied and well-structured. If they could just get past the weakness in the vocals they would be a much stronger band.
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