Review: Sangre Cavallum - Veleno de Teixo (2007)


artist: San­gre Caval­lum
release: Vel­eno de Teixo
format: CD
year of release: 2007
label: Ahn­stern
dur­a­tion: 62:42

detailed info: dis​cogs​.com

San­gre Caval­lum is no new name for me, but I hadn’t had the pleas­ure of hear­ing their music before I got Vel­eno de Teixo. The band hails from the Por­tuguese area of Cal­lae­cia, a region with its own unique her­it­age, lan­guage, and cul­ture. And this is exactly what San­gre Caval­lum is all about: express­ing this iden­tity in music.

The band them­selves do not refer to the music as neo­folk, and in a sense, that is cor­rect, although the pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with eth­nic iden­tity and her­it­age def­in­itely has its par­al­lells in the neo­folk scene. Regard­less, the music on this album con­tains a seam­less blend of tra­di­tional folk and medi­aeval music, mod­ern folk/martial exper­i­ment­a­tion, and even a slight rock/metal touch. Other dis­tinct­ive ele­ments are the power­ful and epic vocals of new lead singer Emanuel Meno da Cunha, and the extens­ive use of folk­loric field record­ings.

As can be expec­ted, this res­ults in a var­ied sound, ran­ging from rous­ing mar­tial folk tracks (“Braneas Fastoras” and “Bravura” being my favour­ites) to tra­di­tional folk dances (“Chin Glin Din”, “Can­tiga”) and pathos-filled bal­lads (“Às Mães às nossas Mães”). The great diversity of instru­ments con­trib­utes even more to this. Many great per­cuss­ive ele­ments, gui­tars and other strings instru­ments, bag­pipes, hurdy-gurdy, etc. It’s all there.

The title of the album means ‘yew poison’, and it refers to the ritual self-sacrifice made by women in the early his­tory of the region when facing defeat at the hands of their enemies. This is but one of the many ways in which the band incor­por­ates its local her­it­age into their releases. The superb cover art­work and other lay­out, as well as the great masks worn by the band on the pic­tures also deserve men­tion.

There is per­haps some room for improve­ment here and there - not all tracks are equally strong, and the vocal per­form­ance isn’t always con­sist­ent, but the mer­its of this album are great. On the whole, there are many strong and evoc­at­ive tracks, and I con­sider San­gre Caval­lum to be one of the more ori­ginal and pleas­ant acts in today’s altern­at­ive folk world. Don’t hes­it­ate to check out this album if the themes of his­tory and folk her­it­age in music appeal to you!

Reviewed by O.S.

Track­list:

1. Bravas (1:22)
2. Dona Angel­ica (3:57)
3. Colosso de Fed­ralva (4:20)
4. Ó Men­ino Ó (3:55)
5. Braneas Fastoras (4:49)
6. Moinho de Sangue (4:23)
7. Chin Glin Din (3:29)
8. Às Mães às nossas Mães (3:13)
9. Cego Andante (5:37)
10. Monte Medulio (4:03)
11. Duri­ana Troa (4:44)
12. Sagrada Teixo / Cruel Vento (4:52)
13. Can­tiga (2:44)
14. Tremor - rebentam peles, scivas e águas (2:47)
15. Noite de Sol­stí­cio (3:22)
16. Bravura (5:05)

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