'Elevator' music from hell

The greatest thing about heavy metal is that you can do anything with it. There are as many sub-genres as there are bands, and leading the current horde of folk-metal heathens is Switzerland’s Eluveitie (pronounced “el-VEY-tee”). A remarkable ensemble consisting of eight musicians, Eluveitie (Helvetic Gaulish for ‘¡Yo soy Joaquín!’) offers a unique take on Celtic-metal replete with pipers, fiddlers, flautists, Gaulish singing, and a hurdy-gurdy-wielding überbabe who scarcely looks old enough to imbibe mead … all in the context of extreme-melodic Euro death metal. Don’t believe me? Check them out yourself when they invade Backstage Live on February 21.

How the Annwfn did this come to be? I cornered Chrigel Glanzmann, leader of the band I like to call “elevator,” to prod for answers.

You and I understand how Celtic music led to death metal. How do you explain that to non-metalheads?

In my case, I grew up with both genres, so when I formed Eluveitie I was able to realize my dream of combining the two. Regarding the approach, well, compare a guitar player in an extreme or melodic death-metal band and a mandolin player in an Irish folk band, and you’ll see that what they’re doing is quite similar. It doesn’t really sound the same, but playing-wise, the styles fit. Same vibe, same spirit, same attitude. Celtic folk music is very energetic and can be quite harsh. So is metal.

The interplay between `hurdy-gurdy player` Anna `Murphy`’s sean-nós-type vocals and your death metal growls is mesmerizing. How did that come about?

It’s a matter of taste and expression, and those harsh vocals belong in extreme metal. As far as combining them, well, why not? We love extreme metal, we love Celtic music, so why not mix the vocal styles?

You went all out with the almost entirely acoustic Evocation CD a few years ago.

We’d had an acoustic CD in mind for years and did it to challenge ourselves. We simply wanted to see if we had it in us, and it seems we did. It’s true that an Evocation 2 is planned, but it’s not in the works yet. But there is the intent.

“Quoth the Raven” and “Thousandfold” are so catchy and melodic, yet modern rock radio hasn’t seized them.

I know what you mean. “Quoth the Raven” has gotten play in Europe, but I guess it’s a question of marketability. Are the masses really ready for a Euro death-metal band that plays Celtic music?

Do Celtic metal musicians grow on trees in Switzerland?

`Laughter` Actually, there are lots of musicians, period! Our first drummer had to leave at about the same time our first hurdy-gurdy player left; it actually took us less time to find Anna than it did to find Merlin `Sutter, drums`. But it usually doesn’t take us long to find a new musician when we need one. It restores my faith!

Speaking of faith, your birth name is “Christian.” Are you bitter about that?

Ha, no! Chrigel is just a Swiss nickname for “Christian.” And the band’s name is pronounced “el-VEY-tee!”

Eluveitie, 3 Inches of Blood, Holy Grail, System Divide


7pm doors

Mon Feb 21

Backstage Live

1305 E Houston

(210) 224-2747


Scroll to read more Music Stories & Interviews articles
Join the San Antonio Current Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state.
Help us keep this coverage going with a one-time donation or an ongoing membership pledge.


Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.