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Bellfast - Insula Sacra review


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Band: Bellfast
Album: Insula Sacra
Style: Celtic folk metal
Release date: October 2010

01. Bell's Air
02. That's Ireland
03. Deadly Oath
04. Odin's Call
05. Beautiful Mind
06. The Lone Horseman
07. The Druid Song
08. Sail Under The Midnight Sun
09. Winter Of Death
10. Celtic Drum
11. Winds Of Time

The ocean waves and storm crash upon the shores of the "Sacred Island" (that's what Insula Sacra means in latin), and then guitars and flutes start, for an hour ride in heavy metal celtic country.
Hey, wait a minute. These guys are from Japan, right? So, why the heck do they play some 'celtic' stuff? Well, before you laugh or criticize, remember than Tuatha De Danann are from Brazil? Not really a country associated with Celts, either.
And if most of us tend to consider folk music as an expression of one's long-lost heritage, it can just be taken as an art form that sounds nice and appealing. So yeah, given this line of thought, anyone can play folk metal from anywhere.

And while folk metal is quite the rage these days, Bellfast are not really newcomers in the scene - even if this Insula Sacra is their very first album - because they were formed in 1993! And this certainly shows in their music: while almost all recent folk metal bands have quite extreme roots, Bellfast rely on good old melodic heavy metal. It has all the trademarks of it, whether in the song structures, the nice melodies and guitar leads (and soloing - great work on these), and the high pitched main vocals. Let's say it right now, some of them are quite cringe-worthy (especially on "That's Ireland", you might want to skip that one); there's only one Bruce Dickinson after all? This healthy respect they show for 'traditional' heavy metal was probably the reason why Andy LaRocque produced it - and did a good work!
The folk parts are quite classical too, with the violins (special mention for the great plaintive violin lines on "Celtic Drum's intro), the flutes, the sing-along choruses ("Sail Under The Midnight Sun" is your classical catchy song, and it's a bit more extreme, 'modern', than the rest of the album), everything. There's some ballads too (meh), but I have to admit that the female vocals on "The Druid Song" are crystal-clear and beautiful.

So, are you tired of all these 'extreme' folk metal bands? Take a ride along this classical heavy folk metal lane. Somehow this album seems to have been recorded 10 years too late? I'm not sure, given this old-school feel, that it can appeal to the younger audience, but an old-fart-in-the-making found it deliciously refreshing. All in all, it's a nice, but classical, release. It's enjoyable, but won't turn the folk metal scene upside down.

Written on 12.11.2010 by Once your regular Hellfest reporter, now retired. I (strangely enough) listen to a lot of metal. And enjoy good beers, comics, novels and role-playing games.

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