CRUACHAN have released their new single ‘The Blacksmith‘, that was one of a number of contributions that was sent in to Ireland’s state broadcaster, in hopes of being given the honour of representing their country on Eurovision Song Contest 2023. Cruachan wanted to show their Irish roots and highlight the growing Irish folk-metal genre. On May 9th, the contest will reveal who gets to represent Ireland in Eurovision Song Contest which coincides with Cruachan is releasing their new single ‘The Blacksmith‘ through Despotz Records.
Quote from Keith Fay on ‘The Blacksmith’:
“In 2022 we decided to submit a song to Ireland’s state broadcaster, Raidió Teilifís Éireann, for consideration to represent Ireland in the 2023 Eurovision song competition. We believed we had a great chance and when we made the announcement, Irish (and world) media jumped on the news. Suddenly we were being interviewed on major Irish radio stations, news articles all over the world. People agreed with our statement that it’s time for Ireland to submit something different to the standard pop that has constantly been so underwhelming at the competition. The song, The Blacksmith, captures the essence of Irish folk wrapped in a metal shell. You can hear Horslips and Thin Lizzy in this song, surely it was time to bring Irish folk music back into Eurovision? Sadly, that was not the case. Although we made it into the last ten, only six were chosen to go to the televised public vote, we were not part of that six. Well, now with the release of The Blacksmith, the public can decide for themselves – should this have been Ireland’s song for Eurovision 2023?”
Pre-save the single here: https://ingrv.es/the-blacksmith-5v6-a
Ireland’s Cruachan have enjoyed a storied career since they took those tentative first steps back in 1992. As frontman and sole original member Keith Fay elaborates; ‘When I started writing music as a 13-year-old, I had no idea that I was laying the foundations for what would become a brand-new genre, Folk Metal, or that I was planting the seeds of what would be one of the longest running Irish metal bands in history. There have been many ups and downs over the last thirty years, band members have come and gone, record deals have come and gone. We’ve played some of the biggest metal festivals on the planet, travelled to more countries than most Irish bands would ever dream possible. And it has all led to this – our ninth album, ‘The Living and the Dead‘.
More about Cruachan:
A man whose vision and passion for his band has never wavered in the ensuing three decades, Cruachan’s place in, not only in metal history, but that of Ireland’s musical landscape, has been hard earned and hard fought. But Fay was always confident that he and the band would always deliver. ‘This album had to be good. No, it had to be better than good. This had to be the best Cruachan album ever made. I faced a decision in 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, when three band members left the band. ‘Do I call it a day? or do I press on with the mammoth task of replacing everyone’. There was no real decision to be made, I worked way too hard over the years to allow Cruachan to fizzle out. I had been writing some of the best music of my career in recent years. I secured a record deal with a label (Sweden’s Despotz Records) that understood exactly what Cruachan and my vision is’.
With the deal signed, talk obviously turned to new music. ‘The new album only existed in my head but he still pushed me to get a single out. We recorded The Hawthorn and the reaction was immense.’ Buoyed by the amazing reaction to the single, Fay recruited new members for Cruachan in ‘record time’. ‘Joe Farrell had already re-joined Cruachan on bass at the start of 2020, apart from being one of my oldest friends, he was also my rock during this time. Tom (Woodlock), one of the best metal drummers in Ireland, joined us early in 2020. I’ve known Dave Quinn for many years so was a relief that I didn’t need to audition for guitarists, he came in and was a natural fit for the band. I did advertise for a folk instrumentalist and had a few interesting applications. Audrey sent me a mail with some links to her playing. My jaw literally dropped and I recruited her right away. She has been playing violin since the age of 4, the quality she brings to every aspect of Cruachan is beyond compare, from our folky stuff to our classical stuff, it has all just moved to a level I never thought possible.’
New line-up in place, and a clutch of songs Fay felt were among the strongest he’d ever written for the band, the time came to enter the studio to work on what would become ‘The Living and the Dead’. ‘Finally, in April 2022, we entered Trackmix studios to start recording. The quality and maturity of our new material was obvious right away. There have always been elements of classical music in Cruachan’s material but I explored this a lot more on some of the new songs. The honesty and credibility in the finished songs takes my breath away. The song ‘The Reaper’ is about my dad, who sadly passed away in 2020. There was a point when Audrey was layering the strings section for this song, I was listening with Joe and our producer Mick and it literally brought me to tears. I turned to Joe and all I could manage to say was ‘wow’. I did my dad proud with that song but I think we did all of our fans proud with this entire album. I could talk about many other parts in many other tracks but you’ll hear it yourself and see what I mean. I achieved my goal. I created the best Cruachan album to date.’
Since forming the band in 1992, it’s been Keith Fay’s singular vision that has steered the band for nearly thirty years. Appearing originally under the moniker Minas Tirith the band’s focus on Irish history and mythology prompted a change to more suitable Cruachan. The band’s blend of Irish folk music and metal was unique and in late ’93, their demo ‘Celtica‘ soon landed the band their first record deal with Nazguls Eyrie Productions. The first fruits of this endeavour was the band’s cult classic debut album, ‘Tuatha Na Gael‘, which hit the shelves in 1995 to critical acclaim. The band began to draw admiring glances from a number of bigger labels, but none suited the band’s ambition. They eventually signed with Hammerheart records and released ‘The Middle Kingdom‘ in 1999. ‘The Middle Kingdom‘ record saw the band make their first international live appearances. Their third album ‘Folk-lore‘ was produced by and featured the unmistakable vocals of The Pogues legend Shane MacGowan on ‘Ride On‘ which was a surprise hit single in Ireland. Subsequent releases, including ‘Pagan‘ and ‘Blood on the Black Robe‘ saw the band join up with AFM and Candlelight records and led to Cruachan hitting some of the biggest festival stages, including; Hellfest and 70, 000 Tonnes of Metal (where they became one of the few bands to ever perform three sets, one of which featured Gwar vocalist Kim Dyalla as special guest), as well as their own ‘25th Anniversary’ show in Ireland.
After a few tumultuous years band leader Keith Fay observes; “A number of long-term members chose to leave the band, but that prompted a time of rebirth for the band and it has only been a positive thing.” Despite the upheaval behind the scenes, one thing has never faltered; and that is Keith’s passion for folk and metal music, and Cruachan’s unique way of bringing the two together.
Keith Fay – vocal, electric guitar, acoustic guitar, banjo, bouzouki, mandolin, keyboard, Bodhrán
Audrey Trainor – Violin, Vviola, cello
Dave Quinn – electric guitar
Joe Farrell – Bass
Tom Woodlock – Drums, percussion, hand clapping
Cruachan’s latest album now available at: