ALBUM REVIEW: EBRI KNIGHT- ‘Guerrilla’ (2018)

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A superb mix of traditional Catalan music and punk-rock.

Ebri Knight hail from the Maresme, a region where the sea and the mountains meet halfway between La Selva and Barcelona in Catalonia. If you have been living under a rock over the last couple of years Catalonia is currently a region of Spain. I say currently as there is a massive groundswell of support from the Catalan people to leave Spain and forge ahead as a nation in its own right.

Catalonia is is located on the extreme north east of Spain and is home to around 7,500,000 people and its capital is one of the worlds greatest cities in Barcelona. They have their own language and culture that is different to that of Spain and the wish to be independent has occupied the minds of many Catalan’s for decades. Back in the general election of 1931 the Catalan people voted heavily for the left-wing Republican government that promised greater autonomy but when Franco’s fascists moved against the democratically elected government causing the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939) the Catalan’s sided with the government. Three years of heavy fighting throughout Spain but especially in the republican stronghold of Catalonia led to the devastation of the country and eventually to the defeat of the Republican forces and Franco brought in a dictatorship in which he never forgot the role that Catalonia had played. Franco’s regime banned the use of the Catalan language and all institutions of self-government were abolished. It wasn’t until the death of Franco and the return of democracy that Catalan self-identity was again tolerated and the people were allowed to express their national pride without fear of repercussion. This eventually led to the controversial referendum held last October in which than 2,020,000 voters (91.96%) voted for independence. This led to a crackdown on those the Spanish government considered responsible but the fact is that independence is inevitable and Spain are playing a risky game by denying the people of Catalonia their wish to take their place amongst the nations of the world.

The La Senyera Estelada is used by supporters of Catalonian independence. It was inspired by the stars on the Puerto Rican and Cuban flags, who gained independence from Spain in 1898 and 1902 respectively, Catalan independentists began including stars on their symbols from the early 20th century onwards.

Like most nations struggling for freedom across the world the use of traditional/folk music has been one of both uniting the people and a way to protest. With their language banned for decades it was mainly in song that Catalan was kept alive. Ebri Knight are firmly rooted in traditions that have been known across the streets of Catalonia for centuries. The melodies and traditional instruments that inspired them don’t belong left in the past but need to be brought to the fore again. To take from the past and not change it or reinvent it but add to it something. Music is constantly changing and adapting and Ebri Knight are no different to bands like The Dubliners, The Pogues and Flogging Molly. Three bands that show nearly sixty years of evolving and developing traditional Irish folk music.

Guerilla kicks off with ‘Carnaval’ and like a lot of European celtic-punk bands they love the flute. Not an instrument I was always fond of but over the last couple of years (ever since seeing Firkin from Hungary in fact) I have fallen for in a big way. The song is loud and bombastic with plenty of shouty gang vocals and what we might think of here as Spanish touches but all along have unbeknown to us are actually Catalan ones. The  accordion is particularly good here. Next up is the lead single and title track ‘Guerrilla’ and Ebri Knight nail their colours to the mast and they are RED! The video was directed by Eloi Aymerich and shot on the beach of Callao de Mataró  standing on the horizon of the Mediterranean Sea.

The song is a tribute to self-organization, to those that fight side by side together to overcome injustice and those who perpetuate them and to awaken those who remain alienated in the society in which we live.

“The days of the crumbs have been finished, We have already risen and we will make the executioner fall”

The video ends with a shot of a mother feeding her son wrapped in a red cloth, a symbol of revolt, dignity and the future. The music is catchy as hell, fastly played mainly acoustic and while the Celtic melodies may be missing its not a million miles from celtic-punk and in fact could be described as a next door neighbour. Almost the entire album is sung in Catalan so I can’t explain much about whats going on but its a thoroughly enjoyable album with plenty in it to keep both folkies and punkers happy. Not knowing much about the band previous to this album I can’t say how they have developed over their career but they certainly kick up a storm here and on ‘Venim’ it’s a perfect marriage of punk and folk music. The sort of music that could keep everyone happy but without wimping out. The guitars are turned up loud and the whole song bounces along with an almost Ramones feel to it but totally accessible at the same time. On ‘Rosa De Foc’ they slow it down beginning with just voice and acoustic guitar before the band join and while still keeping it slow(ish) the sound is massive. They can’t help themselves though and then BOOM and they off again and the Bhoys push it to max before slowing down again towards the end. ‘Filla’ is the quickest song here and sounds like a traditional song with vocals dominating over a bongo. A nice interlude and very much a salute to the past. ‘La Nit Encesa’ and ‘Mai Més’ are back firmly within punk territory with the folk instruments loud and proud in the mix with flute, fiddle and accordion competing with chugging electric guitar. If you were to pick a celtic-punk tune from this album then ‘El Nostre Dia’ is the one. A more folky number and the closest here to an Irish song. Slower but still massive as with all their slower songs with a swirling movement that you can imagine would be the pint in the air, arms round your mates on the dance-floor moment of the album. I would definitely suggest a visit to the bands YouTube page as well (link below) as they have obviously put a lot of work into their videos and ‘Vientos Del Pueblo’ is a great example. Using illustrations from the Civil War and the words of Republican fighter and poet Miguel Hernández the video is an incredible and powerful work of art.

Born into a poor family and with little education he published his first book at 23 and gained considerable fame before his death. He fought gallantly through the war before eventually being arrested and sentenced to death but Tuberculosis beat the hangman to it and before his death he scrawled his last verse on the wall of the hospital:

“Goodbye, brothers, comrades, friends: let me take my leave of the sun and the fields”

We are steering up towards the end now and ‘Cridarem’ again has a bit of a celtic-punk feel to it with a great shouty but tuneful chorus with what sounds like the whole band joining in. ‘Tornaria’ is a gentle song which makes me think that it’s the words that are important here. They are that kind of band. The lyrics are more important than the tunes to them but lucky for us that there’s more than enough to enjoy even if you don’t know any Catalan! The album ends with the fine anti-fascist anthem ‘Viva La Quinta Brigada’. Written by the legendary Christy Moore and sung here in English it’s an absolutely fantastic version and not very recognisable with Ebri Knight putting their own stamp all over it and defiantly making it their own. In Christy’s version the words pay tribute to the Irishmen who fought in the Spanish Civil War against Franco but here some lines are missing perhaps they found it too difficult to pronounce the Irish names! Nevertheless an awesome song, an awesome version and a great way to end the album.

Guerilla was recorded and mixed in Terrassa in their home region by Marc Bória and Oriol Bacardit and was released at the beginning of February. Twelve songs and forty-three minutes and as good a production as you will ever hear, as clear as the proverbial bell! We are all lucky that the band have made it available for free download so we recommend that as soon as you finish reading this you follow the link below and get downloading! We all owe bands like Ebri Knight a great service. Bands that keep our traditions alive that keep the songs in our memories that provide a link from the past to the present. Music on its own cannot change the world but it can inspire people to read, to think, to act. Music can rouse a people from its slumber its exactly why those that manipulate us and control us promote music that stops people thinking, reading, acting. Music can have the weight of the people behind it and bands like Ebri Knight have the strength of a people who want to change the world.

That’s why they make the music they do.

(you can listen to Guerilla on the Bandcamp player below)

Discography

Tonades Of Time Ago (2011) * La Palla Va Cara (2013) * Foc! (2015) * Cridarem Foc! (2017)

Get Guerrilla

FromTheBand (the option is Buy Now or Name Your Price which includes the option to get the album for **FREE**. It’s up to you folks be as generous as you feel.

Contact Ebri Knight

WebSite  Facebook  Bandcamp  YouTube  Twitter

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One thought on “ALBUM REVIEW: EBRI KNIGHT- ‘Guerrilla’ (2018)

  1. seachranaidhe1 February 27, 2018 at 4:24 pm Reply

    Reblogged this on seachranaidhe1.

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