Suidakra is the name of the founding member, Arkadius Antonik, spelled backwards. They are a melodic folk death metal band from Germany with a very strong Celtic theme. Lyrically and musically that should tell you what to expect, the important part here is how well they pull it off. Generally, they pull of it very well. Caledonia, released in 2006, is considered a high water mark for the band and the genre by many. Book of Dowth is not quite up to par with Caledonia, but it’s damn close. The melody is there, the storytelling lyrics, and most importantly they continue to bring quality melodic death metal, something some of their peers forget about in favor of catchy hooks.
Arkadius Antonik’s vocals are still top notch, delivering the growl we have grown accustomed to hearing. Lyrically he has written an epic around a place in Ireland called Dowth, which is basically a burial spot that has been partially excavated. Arkadius expands upon this in interesting ways while generally sticking to the Celtic theme. Guitars on the album are death metal oriented with Celtic influenced melody woven almost continually through the songs. Lars Wehner’s drumming makes you feel like you’re riding into battle. In fact it would be interesting to see a show featuring Suidakra and Amon Amarth, sort of a modern take on the viking invasion of Ireland. Marcus Riewaldt holds down the bottom on bass, mostly shadowing the melodic lines and adding depth. Of course, there are bagpipes and other acoustic instrumentation throughout the album.
The opener Over Nine Waves is an acoustic intro that morphs into the first track Dowth 2059, at which point it’s classic Suidakra until Birg’s Oath, which has female lead vocals. Followed by Mag Mell, which is basically an acoustic folk song. Generally Suidakra keeps it metal, so this is a slight departure in that this song is not a bridge between songs or an intro or outro, but a full song in and of itself. I could have lived without the cheesy whispered vocals, but your mileage may vary on that point. Then we get to the track, The Dark Mound, which is an… interesting title. Of course the song is not about what most of you perverts are thinking, it’s about a tomb and an evil spell and dead cattle. This track is very straightforward and thrash-y, less melody but for the break parts between verses. Balor is classic Suidakra with the acoustic intro that instantly switches gears into melodic death metal. Balor is followed by Stone of the Seven Suns, which is a track that really could have come right out of Caledonia. It’s possibly one of the better blends of melo-death and folk on the album. Fury Fomoraigh is a huge epic song at the end of the album about the race of demons who destroy mankind. I won’t mention if they are successful or not, but I’m sure fans of the band can figure this out. The album closes with Otherworlds Collide, which is much like the opening track, Over Nine Waves.
Overall Book of Dowth is a worthy follow up to the Suidakra catalog. It compares well to Caledonia and surpasses Crógacht in most respects. Fans of the band will want to pick this one up. There is no wild departure from style or sound, just very solid Suidakra from front to back.