E-an-na - Jiana review
|Release date:||September 2016|
02. Hora Pe Furate
06. Tinca Popii [bonus]
07. Sârbă Ciobănească [bonus]
08. Cei Căzuţi [bonus]
I discovered E-an-na some months back when they had only a song or two to their name and I thought it would be wonderful if they could release a full-length. Jiana is only an EP, but already E-an-na sounds like a veteran act with an established personality and a mastery of sound. It's easy to pick up an accordion, call your melodeath guitarist buddy, and write something in five minutes that sounds sufficiently like folk metal, but the best folk artists have a sense of continuity and a particular spirit that cannot be derived alchemically. The best folk music sounds like what E-an-na has done.
The most obvious musical comparisons that come to mind are Ensiferum (you'll recognize some "epic war metal" segments from time to time) and early Eluveitie (I'm thinking Spirit in particular), but E-an-na has its own distinct flavor, coming from a much different musical tradition from either of the former bands. Jiana mixes rambunctious, layered vocals, lightning runs up and down the frets and keys of folk instrumentation, and precisely-timed, jabbing guitars in a medley of vibrant sounds that creates the sensation of taking part in a vast, magnificent hora. The lively, shifting rhythms have an energy that cannot be contained in the studio and threaten to burst out into flesh and bone before you. The cover depicts a variety of figures engaged in some manner of enrapturing dance, an image that serves as a perfect visual epigram for Jiana - a community gathered around the fire, together resurrecting an ancient song.
That's not to say that this EP is necessarily a light-hearted romp in the style of the party-hearty, well-liquored folk metal bands that we so often encounter in our travels and make for good mosh pit dance parties. As Zorba the Greek tells us, dancing is not merely a simple pleasure or celebration; dancing is a way to confront the most unfathomable of realities. Read the brief thematic summaries for each song provided by E-an-na's YouTube channel and you will learn that Jiana is much darker and more philosophical than you might realize at first. If I may quote from the description of "Șivoi": "This is the darkest song of Jiana. It is a portrait of the end of the world as we know it, a song of pain and despair. All is dead and long forgotten. The wind dances naked above the bodies. The earth itself is bleeding. In spite of this despair, the listener is still urged to dance, to rejoice, for 'at the end we shall see that from the deepest pit you can only ascend.'" E-an-na uses music to confront the reality of our existence in the same way people have for thousands of years, and this is what impresses me about such a young band. I get a similar sensation from my favorite folk bands - Horslips, Eluveitie, Chthonic, Forefather - and similar bands like Primordial, Saor, Orphaned Land, Cruachan, and others.
I am somebody who cannot dance and refuses to do so at every opportunity, and yet there has been no more appropriate way to describe Jiana than in terms of dance. The melodies, the rhythms, the lyrics, the language, all parts of this majestic dance - all hang together as the legacy of a very old nation and proud people. Thanks to Radu for giving me the tip-off and to E-an-na for conjuring up one of the best folk metal releases of this year.
||Written on 18.12.2016 by Reviewing since 2010. Reviewing competently since 2013. More metal than you since before the dawn of 'istry.|
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