Friday, January 14, 2011

Review: Falkenbach - Tiurida

Band: Falkenbach
Album: Tiurida
Origin: Germany
Genre: Viking/folk metal
Release date: 2011-01-28
Record label: Napalm Records
1. Intro 01:38
2. ...Where His Ravens Fly... 07:25
3. Time Between Dog and Wolf 06:01
4. Tanfana 05:32
5. Runes Shall You Know 05:59
6. In Flames 07:53
7. Sunnavend 05:51
8. Asaland (Bonus Track) 04:06

Total running time: 44.25

It's been five long years and two months since the last breathing sign from one-man project Falkenbach whom started playing viking metal as early as 1989. The man who calls himself Vratyas Vakyas has since then released four full-length albums and has now arrived at his fifth endeavour, entitled "Tiurida" (meaning "Glory").

I am quick to say that I always thought Falkenbach's earlier discography to be filled with summits and valleys. In other words, while some songs have been so utterly fantastic ("Heathenpride", "Into The Ardent Awaited Land", "When Gjallarhorn Will Sound", "Vanadis", "Heathen Foray" and "Heralder") there have always been those that were quite dissapointing ("Asum Ok Alfum Naer", "Where Blood Will Soon Be Shed", "Walhall", "Aduatuza" and "Skirnir" to name a few). To be fair, I've always felt that it has been worth it every time Falkenbach is due to releasing a new album. 2011 is certainly no exception.

"Tiurida" starts off with an instrumental intro called "Intro". And I thought that Vratyas was the last person on earth that would be this uninspired as to name an intro for what it is. In this here intro you got rain, thunder, birds and ominous keyboards. It's 1 minute and 38 seconds and that's just a tad too long for an intro.

The ominous keyboardnote from the intro continues into the first real track, which is called "...Where His Ravens Fly..." - hey it's Falkenbach so there must be at least one song with three dots before and after the title, right!? The song has a very medieval sound to it, which sounds a bit too much fantasy/role-playing for my taste. But on the bright side, Vratyas uses his clean voice so much better than ever before - whether this is because of production or training is something I don't know.
And as usual when it comes to Falkenbach, this is a fairly long song which kinda goes along in the same tempo and style for most of the time - nothing wrong with that since that is what made songs such as "When Gjallarhorn Will Sound" and "Heathen Foray" so goddamn good in the first place.
In short, this is a very standard opener for Falkenbach - not his best and certainly not his worst so far.

The third track flaunts with the somewhat crappy title "Time Between Dog And Wolf". It is also where the record picks up a little, little bit in pace and overall aggressiveness - though to be fair - is not that aggressive in the first place. But this is also the first time on the record that we get to hear screaming vocals and what a joy it is, for it seems that this is also something tha Vratyas has improved since we last heard him on "Heralding - The Fireblade" from 2005. Not that his "black vocals" was bad earlier, this is just more putrid - and I say that in a good way.
The song itself does not vary especially much and is actually very similar to the previous one.

"Tanfana" is an instrumental piece of crap that is way too jolly and sounds too much fucking Finnish folkmetal - which is something that I utterly despise. And as usual, the pace is the same for all it's five and a half minutes.

And although "Runes Shall You Know" does not break from the-same-pace-as-always-pattern - it is easily the one that sticks out the most, simply due to it's catchy chorus and overall epicness. But sadly, this is the only place on "Tiurida" that does truly shine.
I say this because "In Flames" (why he chose to name this song after one of the most overrated bands on the planet is a mystery) is a forgettable and way too long attempt to re-connect with the more black metalesque-past of Falkenbach. Still, it also keeps the same boring pace until the acoustic break comes. So just when you think that something spectacular is about to happen - nothing happens. The closing tracks "Sunnavend" and "Asaland" I have nothing else to say about because you already know the drill. But for the major part, there are not much vocals - which truly is a shame since Vratyas voice is what makes Falkenbach truly unique.

In the end, this is easily the most dissapointing release from Falkenbach that I have ever heard. Although the atmosphere and production is good, the instrumental- and the vocal performance is the best in the bands career so far - the truly great standout-songs are not there. The lack of aggression and speed (at least some speed would be nice) is also something that I cannot look past.
Perhaps it is so that I and Falkenbach have grown apart from each other, but I don't like to think so since I regulary listen to the bands past efforts. I honestly think that I have learned to recognize good and bad albums and this is unfortunately such a mediocre album that it's almost ridiculous. Therefore, I can only give ze German and his session-compadres (in the very underrated Le Grand Guignol) 5 out of 10 Abbath-faces.

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