Hello again, my endearing fans! Sorry it has been a while since we last talked (I know I promised I’d call you in the morning, but I swear I lost your number), but here I am again to give you an injection of what you know you want—no, not that you little harlot—the metal! (Yes, yes, the beer too. I haven’t forgotten). So, for today, we have an exercise in polar opposites: I will be offering up my favorite pagan metal album in recent years…and an awesomely (used in a highly ironic fashion) bad beer! So…COIN TOSS…well, it looks like you get the bad end first (like you haven’t heard that one before). On to the beer!!
Okay, so Shocktop is a “Belgian Style Lager” and this particular “beer” is a bit confusing. As far as the texture goes, this beer is thick. When I say thick, I mean that it feels like you are drinking a mouthful of bed linens. I’m supposed to *wake up* with a mouthful of linen after a night drinking. If I experience that sensation while I’m drinking…well why would I want to experience more of it? Strike one. Now, as far as taste goes, apparently these linens were rolled in a vat of raspberry syrup. Seriously, there is no “beer” here, just raspberry. I feel like the raspberry syrup acquired a fake ID so he could get into the club. So he passes himself off as an adult, but forgets that instead of his ID saying Eye M. Beer, the ID is for a Mr. Santiago Gomez, and the two don’t have even a passing resemblance to one another. I tried taking the “well this is just maybe an after dinner dessert type beer” approach to Raspberry Wheat, but to hell with that. After two, I decided that there is just no redeeming quality to this beer, unless you just want to be a douche and think you’re cool because there’s some mohawked Pac-Man piece of orange on the bottle. And if you want to be that douche, then this “beer” is for you. Seriously…4/10, Douche.
Grade – 9/10
I like unusual music. There, I said it. In case you don’t follow patterns, I have a thing for metal using cultural influences and instruments. And if the music happens to be about mythology, pagans, warfare, or a combination of all of the above, then if I don’t like it I’m at least going to give it a chance. Eluveitie is a melo-death metal (keep up with the genres!!) band from Switzerland that use folk instruments in combination with traditional metal and sing many of their songs in the archaic Gaulish language. Previous entries into the Eluveitie catalogue have been solid “folk metal” albums, the death vocals meshing quite nicely with the dual female vocals. “Helvetios”, however, is the first metal album (“Evocation I: The Arcane Dominion” was a full on folk album) that really has vocal duties split between the death vocals and the dual female vocals. Even the background female vocals are more prevalent and in the forefront on this album. A few of the tracks even manage to relegate the death growls to backup vocals, changing pace from the typical (I use that word loosely in conjunction with this band, as there is nothing “typical” about them) rush of Eluveitie’s albums. Now, this emphasis on the melody does not detract from the heaviness of the album. If anything, the shared focus on the melodic vocals and death vocals allow for a better contrast of the feeling of war and supplication, death and peace. There really isn’t a throwaway track on this album. On “Helvetios” more than many of the other album, even the spoken interludes (whether English or Gaul) and instrumentals create a dramatic atmosphere. Normally, I try and listen to an album and find standout tracks, but I was hard pressed to find tracks that truly stood out. But this isn’t because nothing stands out, rather everything stands out. Every time I tried to say “holy crap, this is the best song on the album,” there would be an interlude that would lead into a track even better than the last. “Helvetios” is more than a solid album from a consistent band, this album would have to be considered a high point in the band’s career and it is definitely my favorite in the band’s catalogue.