Firkin- The crazy Irish band from Hungary!
Well here we go again and I feel a sense of deja-vu here as we find ourselves reviewing yet another Hungarian celtic-punk record. We seem to have done so many this year it’s hard to keep a track of them all and once again its yet another outstanding album. The quality of the music and the bands is simply unbelievable and it completely baffles me how they can manage it. Lets face it the Hungarian scene dwarfs the scene here in England in both number of bands and releases. What attracts Hungarians in such numbers to celtic/Irish music is for others more knowledgeable than myself to comment on but I for one am sure glad they are.
Firkin are one of the biggest bands in Hungary and are these days quite a draw all across Europe too. They were formed in 2008 and have released a whole bunch of albums as well as official DVD’s and toured numerous times. If putting in the work gets you the glory then certainly Firkin have been working overtime.
Though it was released last year ‘Finger In The Pie’ sees Firkin ploughing much the same field as previous albums and we are not complaining one iota. Sadly the vocalist on this album, Barna Marthy, has since left but new singer Andy has stepped ably into his shoes and Firkin carried on without pause or catching breath! The first of the album’s fourteen tracks is an old Irish trad classic, and a personal favourite of mine, ‘Donegal Danny’. From the very first bars you’ll be amazed at how clear Barna’s vocals are and he could easily pass as a local! Fast as anything but still staying close to the traditional roots of the song, about a crew of fishermen from Killibegs, who are drowned at sea, bar one, in the wild ocean of the Atlantic. Written by Phil Coulter, a genius of Irish songwriting who counts ‘The Town I Love So Well’ and ‘Scorn Not His Simplicity’ among his most famous works.
“So here’s to those that are dead and gone
The friends that I loved dear
And here’s to you then I’ll bid you adieu
Saying Donegal Danny’s been here me boys
Donegal Danny’s been here”
Followed by ‘If I Could Be The Pope’ and this strikes a chord with me. About being brought up a Catholic and it never really leaving you. Great tune with again Barna and his vocals and lyrics on fire with the flute up front and as catchy a chorus your like to hear. Love this song and definitely one of the album stand out tracks.
(not brilliant sound quality but WHAT a spectacle!)
‘Kind And Fine’ is put to the tune of ‘The Foggy Dew’ and is sung by another former band member Pali. ‘Molly Malone’ you would have heard before numerous times I am sure and if I have one minor quibble it is that while theirs nothing wrong with including songs like this in your live set I don’t see the point of recording it but this takes nothing away from Firkin who make a great stab at it with the fiddle work and whistle especially standing out. Flute starts ‘Parasite’s Lust’ and if you think its heading into Jethro Tull territory you couldn’t be more wrong as soon the band are pulling it back into classic celtic-punk territory.
‘High And Low’ sees Firkin really pushing the boat out. A string sextet accompanies them on this epic ballad that has more than a wee nod to folk-metal but without the showoffery. The song occasionally feels like it may take off but the band show great restraint in holding it back. That restraint was certainly due as the following track shows Firkin’s metal edge much more clearly and ‘The Child Of Fire’ would be at home in any folk-metal bands repertoire. Judit Bonyár guest vocals on ‘I Am Who I Am’ and her voice suits the fast celtic- rock out perfectly. The fiddle is amazing on this track and the whole song despite the female vocals has the traditional Firkin feel about it that we have come to love. ‘Loch Lomond’ sees the band step into Scots territory and the pipes begin and even if the songs title doesn’t ring too many bells as soon as Barna begins to sing you’ll be accompanying the song along. Very nicely played and again played as fast as possible but with one foot firmly in traditional music. The album’s title track is up next and ‘Finger In The Pie’ begins slowly but soon speeds up into the album’s stand out track and guaranteed to have you leaping out of your chair.
“Early in the morning with the devil in my belly
Singing nasty little tunes of the drinks last night
My finger on the phone, but I throw it on the telly
and I reach out for the bottle right by my side”
During the early slow bits of this tale of unrequited love you can feel a surge is coming and it won’t disappoint when it arrives with fiddle, flute and a electric guitar solo all at play here with the frantic drumming.
Another female guest vocalist appears on the next song, ‘My Love John’, and again Nóra Fehér has the most beautiful voice that is simply perfect to sing this song. It has a 60’s/ 70’s classic English folk sound to it and with the strings sextet back on this number as well it shows the range that Firkin have and also how far they will go to achieve perfection for their music. ‘Dirty Julie’ shows that range again as Firkin punk it up with a daft song with a catchy tin whistle laden chorus. A nod to the North-East’s premier pop-punk band The Toydolls as well and we’re heading towards the end of the album and ‘Nincompoop’ and again its a fast paced punky number and looks like ‘Finger In The Pie’ is going to go out with a bang.
And indeed the album does end with a bang with ‘Jumpin’ Lovers’. A fast as hell instrumental using the famous ‘Tam Lin’ reel. Again this may mean not so much to you but soon as the song begins i guarantee you’ll recognise the tune. Lili’s fiddle playing has been perfect throughout the album and nowhere better than on this amazing song.
So you get thirteen songs with one instrumental of which the band penned eight and a collection of six covers of traditional songs that range from the obscure to the well known. Apart from the one tiny gripe mentioned above this is a great album and further cements Firkin’s place as one of Europe’s best and most favoured celtic-punk bands. At well over forty minutes you certainly get your monies worth too and the actual CD is put together with a lot of thought and devotion with band photos galore and lyrics included.
Firkin are heading our way later this month for a gig at the famous Dublin Castle in Camden on New Years Eve. They will be joined on stage by another band who recently lost an important member but have come back stronger than ever in Mick O’Toole. To say I am looking forward to this is an understatement and I can honestly say there’s no better way to see in 2016 than in the company of these two great bands.
Buy The Album
Contact The Band
if you are interested in finding out more about the great scene in Hungary (and you’d be mad not to be) the best place to visit is the ‘Celtic Punk/ Irish Folk Hungary’ group on Facebook here.
for an alternative view of this album check here and read ‘Celtic Folk Punk And More’ and their view of ‘Finger In The Pie.
- Firkin released ‘Revox’ this year which was a three track single featuring the songs ‘If I Could Be The Pope’, ‘Finger In The Pie’ and ‘Parasite’s Lust’ featuring new singer Andy and as stated above he has filled Barna’s shoes and more!