Ireland's Cruachan isn't the world's first, nor the world's only "folk metal" band (other well known acts being Finland's Amorphis and England's Skyclad, to name but two), but they have arguably gone to the greatest lengths of anyone in their attempts to expand this still largely unexplored subgenre.
Forming in 1992 from the ashes of an earlier band called Minas Tirith, Cruachan (which means "the big stack" and doubles as the war cry, or slogan, of the Argyll region's Clan Campbell) featured Keith Fay (vocals, guitars, keyboards), Jay Brennan (guitar), John O'Fathaigh (flute), John Clohessy (bass), and Jay O'Niell (drums), whose prime sonic objective was meshing Irish heritage, Celtic history, and Tolkien mythology with death and black metal savagery. Also known to use traditional instrumentation, on occasion, to carry out this mission, the band released their first effort, Tuatha Na Gael, independently in 1995, but broke up a couple of years later after lengthy negotiations failed to yield a deal with Century Media Records. But Cruachan eventually decided to re-form and, after retooling their lineup with new arrivals Joe Farrell (drums) and, lending greater flexibility to their sound, vocalist/percussionist Karen Gilligan, they signed a new deal with Hammerheart Records. Now enjoying some stability, Cruachan proceeded to churn out 2000's The Middle Kingdom LP, 2001's Ride On EP, and 2002's Folk-Lore LP. Keyboardist Ed Gilbert joined the crew in 2003 and performed on their next album, 2004's Pagan. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia, Rovi