Falkenbach // Tiurida
Rating: 3.0/5.0 —Sleepytime campfire music for reluctant vikings
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: falkenbach.de | myspace.com/falkenbachofficial
Release Dates: EU: 28.01.2011 | US: 02.08.2011
The new year sees cult hero Markus Tummers aka (Vratyas Vakyas) and his one man project Falkenbach rise from a long wintry slumber to release Tiurida, album number five. Those familiar with Falkenbach will know they/he specialize in sometimes epic, folk-heavy viking metal influenced primarily by Bathory and likely Ulver as well. Being that their last release, Heralding – the Fireblade, was a re-recording of the old demo material, they haven’t released new material since 2003’s excellent Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty. That’s a mighty long time to keep fans waiting for some new stuff! So has the time away changed the style or vision? Has the endless wait by long suffering and loyal fans been amply rewarded with musical treasure? Well, gather all ye around the merry campfire and let me tell you the tale of my review whilst playing yea old mandolin. Please don your hoods and chant along appropriately.
Tiurida starts out with “Where His Ravens Fly,” which will sound at once comforting and familiar to the Falkenbach faithful. Featuring entirely clean singing and chanting accompanied by folk instrumentation including acoustic guitar, flute and mandolin, it benefits from a truly infectious bouncing rhythm. Tummer’s voice sounds great (especially at 2:53) and everything is catchy, warm, welcoming and feels like an old friend returning. This is well done in all respects and may even remind of some of Tyr’s material. Despite this initial success, some problems arise as the album winds on stuck in the same style with little variation in pace or overall heaviness. While later tracks like “Runes Shall You Know” and “”Tanfana” are classic Falkenbach and retain all the magic and charm of the older albums (“Tanfana” is particularly catchy), others seem rather flat and so sedate that they become, for lack of a better word, backgroundy. Furthermore, all too often the guitar is understated and overly tranquil. For example, “Sunnavend” and bonus track “Asaland” fail to really engage me in a meaningful way and float by without much impact. “Asaland” in particular adds little to the album since it’s an unexceptional instrumental number and quickly forgotten. Additionally, only two tracks up the aggression level and feature harsh black metal vocals (“Time Between Dog and Wolf” and “In Flames”) and while both are decent, neither are up the standards of older Falkenbach material. Missing in action is that big, epic sound that made past albums so magical and spellbinding (listen to older tracks like “Vanadis” or “The Heathenish Foray” to see what I mean). Only fleeting moments of that sound and quality can be heard on Tiurida.
Please don’t mistake my failure to engage with some of this material with a distaste for folk-based metal music. I still listen to the other Falkenbach albums and Ulver’s Kveldssanger regularly and love the beauty and haunting power they possess. Some of the tracks here just aren’t very interesting and have a generic vibe to them, like outtakes from past albums. Another complaint is the overall shortness of Tiurida. Minus the intro and bonus track, it’s only six songs in length and none of the songs are very long.
While I am unhappy with the brevity and overall quality of some of the material on Tiurida and this cleary isn’t in the same class as prior outings, there are several great examples of folk styled viking metal to be had herein. While I was hoping for much more after so long a wait, I suppose at the end of the day, it’s better to have some Falkenbach rather than no Falkenbach. So feel free to take my criticisms with a grain of salt and a stein of Meade, consider this a teaser EP and leave it at that. Somebody kick dirt on that damn fire! I’m turning in to wait for the next album.