January 16, 2011
Firkin, that hoard of howling Huns is back for a second assault in the form of ‘Whup!,’ the band’s latest full-length CD, and this thing kicks some serious ass!
With this new release, Firkin continues to keep their distance from their contemporaries, with a sound possessed of blistering power chords leading a chugging rhythm section of willing accomplices, bass and drums. On top of this core are vocals that can go from thundering from a pulpit to screaming from the heart of heavy metal in a single phrase, while meanwhile, the traditional instrumentation of fiddle, whistle, and flute, are spinning wildly; sanding down the burrs, and adding subtle emotional content to the wide assortment of songs offered on Whup!
Speaking of songs, gone are the Flogging Molly covers that were peppered amongst Firkin’s debut release. Instead, ‘Whup!’ is divided between Firkin originals and Firk’ed-up traditional songs, with those traditionals including seisiún-standard, “Beggarman,” Fairport’s “Crazy Man Michael,” sea shanty “Whup Jamboree,” and the less obscure numbers, “Spanish Lady,” “Lord of the Dance,” “Rocky Road to Dublin,” and “Monto,” all done up in Firkin’s high-impact style.
Firkin’s arrangements and interpretations of these songs really stand apart from the usual renditions, true, but once again I find myself enjoying the band’s original compositions more. Perhaps it is because the band is so cohesive in their direction that these original songs, written by the band for the band’s own unique style, are so perfectly balanced in conveying the Firkin sound. These six original songs on Whup contain elements of somber beauty, as in “Idyll on a Hill,” fist-pumping and head-banging, as in “Sailing Away”, and reckless abandon in the mug-swinger, “Beer Almighty.” But my personal disc favorite, (after much intense scrutiny!) must be “Highland Games,” with its menacing melodies and whistle and fiddle work. A total firkin’ barnburner!
In short, Firkin’s ‘Whup’ picks up where ‘Firkinful of Beer’ left off, continuing to blur the line between Celtic Folk-Punk and Heavy Metal with results nothing short of inspired. But with both of the Firkin releases available on iTunes with minute-and-a-half samples of each track, you can see for yourself!
I see also that the band is planning a North American tour this March with some US cities still to be announced. If Boston is anywhere near Firkin’s show itinerary, you can bet that I will be in attendance. I way dig this band.
Review by Christopher P. Toler, THE Blathering Gommel