Falkenbach - _Tiurida_
(Napalm Records, 2011)
by: Johnathan A. Carbon (7.5 out of 10)
Folk metal makes up a very small minority of extreme metal bands. One of the reasons is the style is usually bootstrapped as a secondary genre onto a dominating characteristic. Folk metal also shares many traits with Viking metal. Both styles embrace the traditions and heritage of their respected countries or cultures. Viking metal is the specific adoption of Norse culture and imagery. Viking metal's history is rooted in progressive black metal as an ideological splinter group. Folk metal tends to be lighter by comparison, and was started as an embrace of Pagan ideals. Today, folk metal is larger in scope, including any band who incorporates traditional themes or instrumentation into their songs. Viking metal is fast, harsh and deals mostly with, well Vikings. Viking metal can either be silly and fun or serious and contemplative. Depending on the listeners, either style has its merits. Falkenbach chooses the later as the reason for its existence. Incorporating deep Norse heritage, history and mythologies, Falkenbach has little room for caricatures or plastic horned hats.

Falkenbach is a Germanic Norse folk collective centered around Markus Tümmers. Tümmers created the project in the late '80s which has grown to include various session musicians as well as a healthy catalog of blackened folk music. He goes by the pseudonym Vratyas Vakyas ("Searching Wanderer"). Falkenbach rarely performs live, and even appears to be somewhat reserved in interviews. These seemingly odd facts do nothing but add to the intangibility to a band whose name literally means "Brook of Falcons". _Tiurida_ is the fifth release from Falkenbach, following a five year silence. Vakyas employed former studio musicians used in 2003's _Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty_ and 2005's _Heralding - The Fireblade_. Like any good Falkenbach record, _Tiurida_ comes with a triumphant title, which translates as "Glory". If there is anything more apparent in these records, it is the overabundance of magnificence and grandeur.

_Tiurida_is much like a good bottle of dark ale. It possesses the right amount of ingredients to pleasing proportions. A good glass of ale can be transformative and accent the golden ratio of taste, body and aroma. It was only after listening to _Tiurida_ this slightly ludicrous beer metaphor dawned on me. Falkenbach possesses all the right amount of ingredients and proportions inherent to pleasing folk / Viking metal. The majority of songs are rousing swaying melodies which could, in theory, be used for dancing. The songs gallop at a medium pace which never gets too fast (like Finntroll) or too slow (like most folk metal). The majority of the vocals are clean and sing a bounty of anthemic choruses over the rounding harmonies. The style's traditional blackened rasp is reserved for special occasions and makes its points in bold letters. The varying aspects of this record never pull too much in one direction, yet never yearns for more from another.

The one drawback with this record, and with most Falkenbach releases, is the timid nature when it comes to song structure. The beginning of many songs greets the listener with a warm introduction. This is good because the songs never change. Every song on _Tiurida_ sounds different to others on the album but lacks variety within the song itself. This would not be so bad if songs themselves did not stretch into the five to seven minute mark. A repetitive nature adds to the folk woven nature of traditional songs; for a song to be passed down through generations, the melody or even quality of the song needed to possess a certain amount of simplicity and pattern. However , this is 2011 and not 795. We have vaccines, automobiles and songs with a bridge.

Falkenbach's _Tiurida_ forges the Viking genre ahead in the tradition of Enslaved and Bathory. While the sound is almost divorced from its harsh history, the ideals and essence shine bright and proud. Falkenbach appears to be dedicated to a culture and time which existed before conventional boundaries. While Norse mythology is the premiere theme, Germanic culture and myths also make their way in. This makes _Tiurida_ seem more authentic and sound like a Germanic commoner looking north towards Denmark and the Scandinavian shore.

Contact: http://www.myspace.com/falkenbachband

(article published 2/6/2011)


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