"The Giants of Auld"

By Dr. Abner Mality

Scotland is known for many things...fine malt whiskey, William Wallace, haggis, Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott...but heavy metal is not one of them. I could name all Scottish metal bands on less than one hand. Attempting to change this is Cnoc An Tursa, a lusty and power-packed Scottish band treading the fine line between black and folk metal.

These lads do a right fine job of it, too. The tunes here are fast and heavy, with only the opening of "Piper O'Dundee" and the lonely flute of concluding instrumental "Blar na h'Eaglaise Brice" slowing the roaring rapids. The pride of the ancient Scots bursts out in full bloom on tracks like "The Lion of Scotland" and "Hail Land of My Fathers" and I'm sure somewhere some hare-brained leftist is already plotting to call these men white supremacists or some such rot. Do not be deceived, but rather enjoy the raw power and energy of "Bannockburn", which brings the faster moments of Wolves of the Throne Room and Welsh warriors Winterffylleth to mind. "Hail Land of My Fathers" begins with a riff that would make Immortal proud and that influence is also pronounced here, but balanced with something more folkish and melodic. Ensiferum and Eluveite also come to mind. The keyboards are a constant presence, sometimes falling to the background, other times soaring to the forefront to give a mystical feel. The vocals are raw and hoarse without falling into black metal croaking.

There is a sense that Cnoc an Tursa have not totally found their own way yet, as many of the songs here resemble their influences a tad too closely. But their commitment to keeping speed and power in their sound is not to be questioned and cuts like "The Spellbound Knight" and "Culloden Moor" have the power to take you back to the days when brave men fought the odds to keep their traditions alive. "The Giants of Auld" is a soundtrack to "Braveheart" if ever there was one.