French band CelKIlt have long established themselves as one of the Celtic-Punk/Rock scenes heavyweights and here they return with their seventh album The Next One Down.
Trad Celtic-Rockers CelKIlt are back with their seventh album, recorded in Italy, France and Switzerland over several months, its time has unfortunately come in the middle of the clampdown doing away with any chance of decent promotion and it would be tragic if this album were to pass people by because of that. Reviewing CelKilt’s last album in 2017 I made the bold statement that “I’ve had to promote CelKilt up to the Premier League of top celtic-punk bands” and their new album hasn’t changed my opinion much either. They might be famous to a lot of London Celtic Punks readers for their song ‘Everyday’s St Patrick’s Day’ which kicks off the #1 Celtic-Punk compilation (still free and now at well over 1,500 downloads!) Irish Pub Songs- Celtic Punk Sampler.
CelKilt are a five piece Celtic-Punk band from Roanne, near to Lyon, which is pretty much bang in the middle of France and have been together since 2011 what is quite remarkable is that The Next One Down makes it seven albums in only nine years. I know a band who got together in 2010 and are still on one. Not mentioning any names!?!? Their releases include a whole album of Christmas themed originals titled Kiltmas Songs from 2015 as well as a Live album and on top of over 500 live shows they have even toured the USA not once, not twice but an amazing three times!!! They have been invited to play Shamrock Fest twice and in 2018 they returned to the States to play the Flogging Molly Salty Dog Cruise in 2018 (the lucky bastards!). Now not many Euro bands get the chance to go ‘Stateside’ so if you do then that means an awful lot. Last week we reviewed the new album from Uncle Bard And The Dirty Bastards, who also toured the USA, and I would very much class CelKIlt as being in the same league.
Their last album, the excellent Stand, made the Top Thirty Best Celtic-Punk Album of 2017 and when I reviewed it I hadn’t quite realised that their was such a thing as Google Translate so some of the bands history passed me by still it made me concentrate much more on the music than I would perhaps would do for an ‘Irish’ band. A superb mix of AC/DC hard rock, Celtic/Irish melodies and even Pop-Punk and ballads it is a brilliant album and one that I still play regularly. The Next One Down begins with the title track and some heavy and atmospheric piping from new team member Iain are joined by loud guitar before Titou’s great rock vocals come in. He sings in English and it’s clear as crystal and rather ‘theatrical’ in the style I can only describe as Freddie Mercury-esque. The music is more Rock style than Punk influenced but they make up for that next on ‘The Best I Can’ and a straight up Celtic-Punk masterpiece. Lyrically it’s about the environment but not preachy. In fact the opposite in saying it’s good enough to try our best and not make things worse. The song is only just over two minutes long and new band member Iain is much in evidence.
A great video which gets across the energy of the band and considering it’s their live performances that are mainly responsible for winning them their legions of fans it’s done a good job of portraying that. ‘Dig Around’ has some amazing piping and the more rocky sound reminds me of Fiddlers Green or the American bands Seven Nations and the Young Dubliners. Titou’s vocals throughout are another instrument for a band that you’d be amazed consists of only five members. ‘People Are Crazy’ dips it’s toe into some catchy ska/reggae but all the time firmly anchored in Celtic music.
‘Carry On’ is the albums longest song and I suppose a type of bombastic rock ballad. The Celtic side of things on The Next One Down is more subdued than on previous albums I would say but it still makes for a fantastic album given that they always had more of a Celtic spirit than 95% of bands in the scene anyway! The first of the album’s two instrumental is next and while ‘Their Wasabi’ may not be the massive free for all you’re expecting it is extremely well played and as catchy as hell. A word for the cracking video too a perfect example of ‘necessity breeds ingenuity’. The foreboding start to ‘The Road That Takes Me Home’ does not disappoint with its great gang chorus and heavy beat and clever and poignant lyrics.
‘Your Hand’ is the albums most accessible song to ‘outsiders’. The type of song that would appeal to everyone from Celtic-Punk extremists like me right up to your Mam! The Celtic takes a back seat except for Ana’s, as ever, amazing fiddle playing and has traces of Celtic-Rock from bands like U2, Simple Minds or even The Alarm. ‘Dewey’ is the second of the instrumentals here and at only ninety seconds it’s pipe heavy with a hard rock feel. Only a couple to go and both standout tracks with ‘Can’t Go Back’ the fastest song here taking in US style Pop-Punk as well as Calypso too. It’s all here folks!! The curtain comes down with the glorious singalong ‘Whaole’. A modern take on a sea-shanty and bloody brilliant and set to become a crowd favourite I would bet my shirt on.
CelKIlt continue to push the boundaries of Celtic music and with The Next One Down are right to be considered one of the scenes leading lights and internationally acclaimed. The album was mastered by Howie Weinberg, famous for his work with the Dropkick Murphys and other such giants such as Nirvana, Jeff Buckley and Deftones, and it cannot be understated what an amazing job he has done. The album is as close to perfection as you can get. The Celtic base to every song gives CelKilt the chance to spread their wings a little compared to their last LP but doesn’t detract from the overall feel. A great album and in this time of clampdown a ‘goodfeel’ album we desperately need.