ALBUM REVIEW: Hand Of Kalliach – Corryvreckan

Ah, Scotland. Home of the highlands, tartan kilts, bagpipes, haggis, and whisky; Connor MacLeod of the Clan MacLeod, the deep-fried Mars bar, the Loch Ness Monster, Outlander, Obi-Wan Kenobi, and an instant aversion to anyone from England who casually reduces the country to a series of stereotypes for the sake of a quick laugh. Not to mention its thriving metal scene, of course, with folk metal being one of the country’s most popular exports.

Steeped in ancient mythology, Hand of Kalliach take their name from the legend of the Cailleach, the ancient witch god of winter who lives at the bottom of a whirlpool after which this second album, Corryvreckan (Prosthetic Records) takes its name. Represented as both an old hag and a young woman, the Cailleach heralds the arrival of winter by rising on October 31st to wash her cloak in the waters of Corryvreckan. Once restored to its original white, she casts it across the earth in the form of snow. 

Comprising vocalist/bassist Sophie Fraser and vocalist/guitarist/drummer John Fraser, the husband-and-wife team deliver more of their catchy MeloFolk, continuing the themes begun on their independently released 2021 debut album Samhainn. 

Sophie Fraser’s airy, ethereal voice draws you into opener “Three Seas” where she is soon joined by slow, warlike drums and her partner’s more menacing deep throated Johan Hegg-style gutturals before reaching a crescendo of blasting drums, melodic tremolo picked notes and atmospheric tension. The superb “Fell Reigns” follows with a brooding Celtic jig from the same neck of the forest as Irish folkers Cruachan.

Translated roughly to “revenge”, the combative and fiercely belligerent “Dìoghaltas” is the first of three tracks which require either a basic grounding in how to speak Gaelic or access to Google Translate. Based on the legend of a sea monster so big it was said to have fed on seven (presumably unbattered) whales, the equally difficult to pronounce “Cirein-cròin” combines death metal ferocity with lilting vocal tones and keyboard bagpipes.

Elsewhere, “Deathless” brings a more melancholic thunder as does “The Hubris of Prince Bhreacan” where Sophie’s vocals take on even greater depth. “Unbroken You Remain” and “The Cauldron” are both straightforward but highly effective Gaelic-infused Death Metal while seven-minute closer “Of Twilight And The Pyre” rounds off the album with a combination of diaphanous grace and extreme violence.

Fearsome drums, dramatic riffs, a powerful production, and vocals which link together perfectly despite being polar opposites, Corryvreckan is a fine example of Celtic-influenced Melodic Death Metal that shows there is clearly much more to come.

Buy the album here:


7 / 10