Sangre Cavallum – Pátria Granítica

Two years ago I was pleasantly surprised by the debut cd of Sangre Cavallum on Storm Records. Now the band from Portugal returns with a follow-up on Ahnstern/Steinklang Records. Compared to their debut, “Patria Granítica” sounds much more homogeneous, with a more even level of quality. On the rich sounding album, a varied collection of mainly (regional and traditional) acoustic instruments is employed, played by clearly skilled musicians. Musicwise their work has similarities to for instance Blood Axis and draws heavily from traditional folk sources, interwoven with more avantgardistic elements.

Thematically “Patria Granítica” deals with the ancient people of Gallaecia (, their traditions and deities (their stone statues are depicted in the artwork) and their longing for independence. As is stated in the booklet, “Callaecia’s people fight for the rebirth of the north of Portugal and Galiza territory, the Gallaecia or historical Gallaecia. […] The ‘galaico-duriense aea constitutes an ethnic body… a lineage of fierce warriors descending from a common ancestor and ruled by war Gods.”

Though you may expect a rather militant sound, most of Sangre Cavallum’s songs are actually quite restrained and carefully build up. A nice tune (which can also be found on the Steinklang II sampler) is the instrumental ‘A Cancao da pedra’, with an elegant, almost medieval melody with bagpipe and flute, supported by a chants and modest military drumming. A striking folk piece is ‘Cantilena de Pedreiros’, which sounds like a drinking song, with melancholic vocal and cheerful instrumental parts. Some of the more martial pieces are ‘Pedra-Patria’ and ‘Nabia Coruna’, with heavy drumming, heroic chants and uptempo bagpipes, and psychedelic elements as well on the last piece. Despite being deeply rooted in tradition and history, Sangre Cavallum sounds surprisingly fresh on “Patria Granítica”.

artist: Sangre Cavallum
label: Ahnstern
details: cd, 10 tracks, 49 min, 2006 [ahnstern 18]