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ALBUM: 24.03. CRUACHAN – "The Living and The Dead" (Despotz Records/Rough Trade)


‘The Reaper’, the third single from Irish folk-metal pioneers Cruachan upcoming ninth album ‘The Living and the Dead’, is a wonderful blend of the band’s hardest metal riffs and hauntingly beautiful folk and traditional instruments. Featuring Sinead Richards, she's only 14 year old and daughter of our producer.

"She is a huge talent and aded such orchestral heft to this song that we can't imagine how it would sound without her contribution." // Keith Fay

Keith about the new song: 
'The song 'The Reaper' is about my dad, who sadly passed away in 2020. There was a point when Audrey was layering the strings section for this song, I was listening with Joe and our producer Mick and it literally brought me to tears. I turned to Joe and all I could manage to say was 'wow'. I did my dad proud with that song but I think we did all of our fans proud with this entire album. I could talk about many other parts in many other tracks but you'll hear it yourself and see what I mean. I achieved my goal. I created the best Cruachan album to date.'

Ireland’s Cruachan have enjoyed a storied career since they took those tentative first steps back in 1992. As frontman and sole original member Keith Fay elaborates; ‘When I started writing music as a 13-year-old, I had no idea that I was laying the foundations for what would become a brand-new genre, Folk Metal, or that I was planting the seeds of what would be one of the longest running Irish metal bands in history. There have been many ups and downs over the last thirty years, band members have come and gone, record deals have come and gone. We've played some of the biggest metal festivals on the planet, travelled to more countries than most Irish bands would ever dream possible. And it has all led to this - our ninth album, 'The Living and the Dead'.

’A man whose vision and passion for his band has never wavered in the ensuing three decades, Cruachan’s place in, not only in metal history, but that of Ireland’s musical landscape, has been hard earned and hard fought. But Fay was always confident that he and the band would always deliver. ‘This album had to be good. No, it had to be better than good. This had to be the best Cruachan album ever made. I faced a decision in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, when three band members left the band. ‘Do I call it a day? or do I press on with the mammoth task of replacing everyone’. There was no real decision to be made, I worked way too hard over the years to allow Cruachan to fizzle out. I had been writing some of the best music of my career in recent years. I secured a record deal with a label (Sweden’s Despotz Records) that understood exactly what Cruachan and my vision is’. 

CRUACHAN album cover 202322

‘How many words do you want in this quote, Keith? Because I could go on all day about how f**king good this album is’. - Gareth Murdock / Alestorm

With the deal signed, talk obviously turned to new music. ‘The new album only existed in my head but he still pushed me to get a single out. We recorded The Hawthorn and the reaction was immense.’ Buoyed by the amazing reaction to the single, Fay recruited new members for Cruachan in ‘record time’. ‘Joe Farrell had already re-joined Cruachan on bass at the start of 2020, apart from being one of my oldest friends, he was also my rock during this time. Tom (Woodlock), one of the best metal drummers in Ireland, joined us early in 2020. I've known Dave Quinn for many years so was a relief that I didn't need to audition for guitarists, he came in and was a natural fit for the band. I did advertise for a folk instrumentalist and had a few interesting applications. Audrey sent me a mail with some links to her playing. My jaw literally dropped and I recruited her right away. She has been playing violin since the age of 4, the quality she brings to every aspect of Cruachan is beyond compare, from our folky stuff to our classical stuff, it has all just moved to a level I never thought possible.’ 

‘It was a pleasure to be a part of this project, the fusion of heavy metal and folk music on this album is furious, organic, and natural. Folk metal fans are in for a treat.’  - Camillus Hiney / The Fureys

New line-up in place, and a clutch of songs Fay felt were among the strongest he’d ever written for the band, the time came to enter the studio to work on what would become ‘The Living and the Dead’. ‘Finally, in April 2022, we entered Trackmix studios to start recording. The quality and maturity of our new material was obvious right away. There have always been elements of classical music in Cruachan's material but I explored this a lot more on some of the new songs. The honesty and credibility in the finished songs takes my breath away. 

‘This album has everything from groovy death to the folkiest of metals! If you're a true folker then this album is for you!’  - Mathias 'Vreth' Lillmans / Finntroll

More on Cruachan 30 years as a band!
Since forming the band in 1992, it’s been Keith Fay’s singular vision that has steered the band for nearly thirty years. Appearing originally under the moniker Minas Tirith the band’s focus on Irish history and mythology prompted a change to more suitable Cruachan. The band’s blend of Irish folk music and metal was unique and in late ’93, their demo 'Celtica' soon landed the band their first record deal with Nazguls Eyrie Productions. The first fruits of this endeavour was the band’s cult classic debut album, 'Tuatha Na Gael', which hit the shelves in 1995 to critical acclaim. The band began to draw admiring glances from a number of bigger labels, but none suited the band’s ambition. They eventually signed with Hammerheart records and released 'The Middle Kingdom' in 1999. 'The Middle Kingdom' record saw the band make their first international live appearances. Their third album 'Folk-lore' was produced by and featured the unmistakable vocals of The Pogues legend Shane MacGowan on 'Ride On' which was a surprise hit single in Ireland. Subsequent releases, including 'Pagan' and 'Blood on the Black Robe' saw the band join up with AFM and Candlelight records and led to Cruachan hitting some of the biggest festival stages, including; Hellfest and 70, 000 Tonnes of Metal (where they became one of the few bands to ever perform three sets, one of which featured Gwar vocalist Kim Dyalla as special guest), as well as their own ‘25th Anniversary’ show in Ireland.After a few tumultuous years band leader Keith Fay observes; "A number of long-term members chose to leave the band, but that prompted a time of rebirth for the band and it has only been a positive thing."  Despite the upheaval behind the scenes, one thing has never faltered; and that is Keith’s passion for folk and metal music, and Cruachan’s unique way of bringing the two together. 


Cruachan are:
Keith Fay – Vocals, Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Banjo, Bouzouki, Mandolin, Keyboard, Bodhrán
Audrey Trainor – Violin, Viola, Cello
Dave Quinn – Electric Guitar
Joe Farrell – Bass
Tom Woodlock – Drums, Percussion, Hand ClappingMusic and lyrics by Keith Fay

Recorded, produced and mixed by Michael Richards at Trackmix Studios, Dublin, IrelandAdditional Musicians:
Kim Dylla – Backing Vocals 

Kim is the former vocalist of GWAR and runs Kylla Custom Rock Wear,  making stage clothes for the greatest metal bands in the world! When she can, she is also our live female vocalist. Nella – Lead Vocal (The Changeling)

Nella is a singer songwriter based in Ireland. She has worked with some of the biggest names in the industry and performed live with 
'Video Games Live' as well as sang on the soundtrack for 'World of Warcraft'. Mathias ‘Vreth’ Lillmåns – Lead Vocal (The Ghost) 

Mathis is lead singer with FINNTROLL!! He adds some really amazing  growls to the most 'Death Metal' track on the album. Jon Campling – Backing Vocals (The Crow, The Changeling) 

Jon is an actor that has appeared in Harry Potter (the Death Eater  that stops the Hogwarts Express) as well as King Regis from Final 
Fantasy. In recent years he decided to learn to play guitar and sing and we're delighted his professional singing debut is on this album 
(and he nailed it) Geoffrey Dell’Aria – Bagpipes, Tin Whistle, Low Whistle 

Geoff is an accomplished musician who plays in many many bands. He made a huge contribution to this album with pipes and whistles 
throughout. Camillus Hiney – Accordion (The Festival) 

Camillus is the box player for the legendary Irish folk group THE FUREYS. Having a folk musician of Camillus's caliber on this album is 
a huge moment of pride for us. Stu ‘La Rage’ Dixon – Guitar solo (The Witch) 

Stu is the guitarist with metal legends VENOM. An amazing lead  guitarist who lends a real touch of class to this song. John Fay – Tin whistle (The Children) 

John needs no introduction, long time member of Cruachan over the  years it was a pleasure to have him back and still involved with the 
band as a guest musician. You'll see John on TV all the time in shows such as Vikings, Game of Thrones etc Sinead Richards – Euphonium (The Reaper) 

Lastly a huge thank you to Sinead, the 14 year old daughter of our  producer. She is a huge talent and added such orchestral heft to this 
song that we can't imagine how it would sound without her contribution.


CRUACHAN 1 credit Lauren Dunleavy21