Album Review and Interview: Hand of Kalliach - Corryvreckan

Album Review and Interview: Hand of Kalliach - Corryvreckan


Scotland; a mystical land of darkly savage myth and legend. Steeped in history with a gorgeous yet rugged terrain. There's a magical atmosphere which enchants you and draws you deeper once you set foot on its ancient soil.

Taking their name from the fabled Cailleach, the ancient Scottish Celtic with god of winter, Hand of Kalliach have returned with their stunning and highly anticipated sophomore album Corryvreckan, which is set to be released on February 23rd via Prosthetic Records. Threading heavy Celtic and Scottish Gaelic folk music influences on a foundation of blistering melodic death metal and ethereal elements.

Legend has it that the Callieach slumbers in the depths of the Corryvreckan whirlpool off the west coast of Scotland; a treacherous area which many a sailor fear and only the most experienced dare to venture. It is said that she rises from the depths to wash her great plaid (cloth) in the waters and once it is clean and white again, she casts it across the land where it falls as snow. This ushers in the dark and chilling season of winter with the festival of Samhain and her wintery reign ends as Spring arrives with the festival of Beltane when she returns to the depths once more.

A natural progression from 2021's debut album Samhain, Corryvreckan continues the conceptual story of the Callieach and the associated lore and myths of Scotland's vast mountainous regions and ancient tales. The record incorporates heavy riffs, thunderous drums and floating, ethereal melodies with dense, Celtic and Scottish Gaelic elements which creates a vivid personification of snow capped mountains, deep treacherous lochs and dense, shadowy forests. The juxtaposition of demonic, gutteral growls and soaring, haunting cleans perfectly balances the album's brutal nature and its gentle, melodic counterforce.

'Three Seas' sets the scene with an ominous, haunting orchestration build-up, creating an image of an icy wind blowing across the treacherous waters of the Corryvreckan, where the three seas meet creating the notoriously dangerous whirlpool and standing waves which hold the Cailleach. Thunderous drums pick up the galloping pace, carrying furious riffage, devastating gutterals and soaring vocalisations. Leading in to 'Fell Reigns,' the epically, Celtic-infused guitar riff continues throughout the thunderous blast-beats and crushing atmosphere. Chaos ensues and the pace is quickened with 'Dìoghaltas' which is sung entirely in Scots Gaelic aside from the celestial chorus. The track tells the story of revenge and vengeance so naturally, this track is a charging onslaught of rage-fueled riffage, unrelenting force and determination. 'Cirein-cròin' tells the age old legend of a terrifying sea monster which disguises itself as a school of silvery herring to lure fishermen and sailors to their doom. It is said that the Cirein-cròin is so large that it feeds on seven large whales at a time and is the subject of an old Scottish nursery rhyme. The pace of this track mimics the energy of the aforementioned sea monster with a thrashing, chugging attitude and relentless galloping before slowing in to an eerie ethereal warning of the Cirein-cròin

'Deathless' begins with a furious riff and a devastatingly thunderous breakdown which catapults Sophie's celestial vocals in to the void, soaring alongside blistering blast-beats, intoxicating, Celtic-infused elements and frantic shredding accompanied by John's incredibly powerful growls. 'The Hubris of Prince Bhreacan' roars in to life and tells the tale of the excessively prideful Scandinavian Prince Bhreacan who seeks out the daughter of the Lord of the Isles for her hand in marriage. The marriage would be agreed to on account that the Prince could survive three days and three nights in the Corryvreckan whirlpool; ultimately, the Prince drowned on the 3rd night. The track itself tells this sorrowful tale with a combination of roiling, thunderous energy depicting the treacherous nature of the Corryvreckan and mournful, ethereal vocalisations.

'Unbroken You Remain' and 'The Cauldron' twist and turn in a cacophony of evocative mysticism and crushing guitars. The drums continue their thunderous rampage on a backdrop of enchanting Gaelic atmosphere and gritty vocals. 'Of Twilight And The Pyre' serves as the gem of the record as well as a dramatically emotional conclusion. A floating, mysterious beginning consisting of Sophie's hauntingly light vocals, stunning keys and violins demonstrating the band's ability to create beautiful, emotive soundscapes. It then bursts in to life with John's ferocious roars and flurries of blast-beats before slowly fading away back in to the depths of the icy water.

A cinematic, atmospheric journey in to the ancient myths and legends of Scotland. Dark, crushing energy mixed with mystical wonder and demanding power. Gather around the fire and soak in the brutal tales of Corryvreckan that Hand of Kalliach are here to tell and let them never be forgotten.

Rating: 9/10
Release Date: February 23rd 2024
Released By: Prosthetic Records
FFO: Duskmourn, Saor, Falloch, Eluveitie


01 - Three Seas
02 - Fell Reigns
03 - Dìoghaltas
04 - Cirein-cròin
05 - Deathless
06 - The Hubris of Prince Bhreacan  
07 - Unbroken You Remain
08 - The Cauldron
09 - Of Twilight and the Pyre

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