Art Gates Records
FFO: Turisas, Ensiferum, Amon Amarth, Survael, Skálmöld, Wolfchant
Following a very brief hiatus in 2014, Gwydion stormed back with their excellent ‘Thirteen’ album four years later. After that successful raiding party, the Portuguese folk/metallers have boarded their longships once more and are ready to fill their hulls with loot with the release of their eponymous fifth studio album.
Every release has seen Gwydion go from strength to strength, tweaking that sound here and there, splicing and dicing to develop something relatively unique within their field. But, with ‘Thirteen’, it felt like Gwydion had hit a pinnacle and it would take all the power the band could muster to reach that shore again. What Gwydion have achieved with this self-titled work is an extremely well-produced album that oozes all the hallmarks of a major label release; the overarching sound is one that is sleek, professional and modern finish allowing all the instruments and arrangements to clearly heard meaning that ‘Gwydion’ is actually quite accessible. Tracks such as ‘Stand Alone’, ‘Hammer of the Gods’ and ‘Battle of Alclud Ford’ are some of the best work that Gwydion have ever recorded as the band channel that inner Amon Amarth, Turisas and Ensiferum coupled with the expansive symphonic folk sound that makes ‘Gwydion’ quite enjoyable. However, ‘Gwydion’ is best described as a tour de force, it is a long album clocking in at a mighty 77 minutes. It is not an album that is to be taken lightly and does have a feeling that there is far too much here with the phrase coming to mind “less is more”. Although enjoyable, there is a lot here that could easily be trimmed away; it wouldn’t be missed had it not been there in the first place and unfortunately, this quickly becomes the heavy metal elephant in the room.
For Gwydion, this album was supposed to be the jewel in the crown and sadly, when it comes to it ‘Gwydion’ does fall behind the previous album. That does not mean that ‘Gwydion’ is poor, in fact, far from it; it cannot be stressed enough how enjoyable this album actually is. But approach with caution, to fully appreciate this work, a large portion of time is needed to take it all in and that is something not everybody has in abundance.