Celtic Legacy are a band that for many years have flown below the radar of many devout metalheads, myself included. To be sure, these friendly sons of Ireland have been slugging it out for the better part of two decades, albeit with a few stops and starts over the years because of financial difficulties and internal strife. The metal world at large may not have noticed, but amongst their small devoted following, the name “Celtic Legacy” is uttered in hushed, reverential tones. When I heard that they had just self-released a new album, ‘The Lie of the Land,’ in a limited CD run of 250 units, I decided it was time to put an end to my ignorance about this band, so I bought a copy to investigate. What Celtic Legacy presents on ‘The Lie of the Land’ does not cater to any trends in the industry of heavy metal. It isn’t power metal, or retro 80s style metal, or thrash metal, or anything else that’s really conducive to being marketed, commercialized and monetized. Instead, Celtic Legacy have delivered 58 minutes of honest, unpretentious, high-quality, melodic metal music with heartfelt, thoughtful lyrics tackling weighty subjects like politics, religion and life and death. I have heard Celtic Legacy described as a folk metal band, and I get that, but not in the Nuclear Blast, test-marketed, let’s-paint-our-faces-blue-and-wear-kilts-and-dance-around-the-fire-without-showering-for-three-days kind of way. No, the songs on ‘The Lie of the Land’ are folky in the way Riot’s ‘Inishmore’ album was or some latter-day Iron Maiden tunes are, in the sense that they rely on big catchy guitar melodies that sound celtic or folk-inspired, with more than a little Thin Lizzy / Gary Moore magic sprinkled in. Tracks like “Distant Shores,” “The Lie of the Land,” or the stellar instrumental “Reckless Abandon” embody exactly what I’m talking about. If you love the more contemplative, longer, melodic tracks from Iron Maiden albums like ‘A Matter of Life or Death’ or ‘The Final Frontier,’ you may find yourself right at home with Celtic Legacy. I shouldn’t lean on the Maiden comparison too heavily, however. Celtic Legacy are not as “metal” as Eddie’s minions, inasmuch as they rarely hit the accelerator pedal and don’t utilize histrionic air-raid siren vocals. Make no mistake, Ciaran Ennis is a gifted singer who turns in a fantastic performance here, but his approach is smooth and clear, emotional and majestic, rather than the stereotypical screaming metal kind of stuff.
By all appearances, ‘The Lie of the Land’ was a labor of love that spanned three and a half years in the making. At present, the band consists of only two members: Ennis and guitarist Dave Morrissey. The way it worked is that Morrissey wrote and recorded all the music, while Ennis wrote and recorded all the lyrics and vocal lines. Morrissey contributed the striking artwork and album concept, and esteemed German studio whiz Lasse Lammert took care of re-amping and mastering. My point is that Morrissey and Ennis willed this album into being, no doubt at tremendous personal sacrifice and emotional and financial burden. Here’s the thing: It was totally worth it. ‘The Lie of the Land’ is a beautiful album of which they can be proud. You won’t want to spin this one on a wild, rockin’, alcohol-fueled Saturday night bender, but when you’re all alone and need a soothing late-night listen to keep you company as you contemplate life and the world, you couldn’t ask for a better companion than Celtic Legacy and ‘The Lie of the Land.’
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~