Festung Nebelburg - _Gabreta Hyle_
(Blood Fire Death, 2007)
by: Quentin Kalis (6.5 out of 10)
_Gabreta Hyle_ is the debut album from this one-man project, founded by Nattulv. And I do mean debut -- I cannot find evidence of any prior recordings, not even a few shoddy and hastily recorded demo tracks. Still, Festung Nebelburg must have produced something that attracted the attention of the guys at Blood Fire Death.

Nattulv hails from Bavaria and, in keeping with the nationalist ethos of pagan folk metal, this is dedicated to and about Bavarian nature and traditions. Consequently, the album is sung almost entirely in German, barring "When Autumn Turns Into Winter"; and yes, he has sufficiently mastered English for it not to be cringe-inducing. (Although he hasn't mastered the use of the apostrophe, but now I'm just being anal retentive, as many native English speakers haven't!) This song is exceptional not just for being the sole English track, but also for its predominant acoustic nature and melancholic atmosphere, which stands out in marked contrast to the heavy and upbeat folk melodies which dominate the rest of the album.

The clean vocals are less than impressive, and the reliance on programmed drums is, as always, irritating -- unless you are in an isolated and tiny hamlet 200 km from the nearest urban centre, drum machines should be banned from extreme music. But the biggest failing is that the album feels inchoate, as if it contains the bare bones of an idea and is in desperate need of fleshing out. A second guitarist would help; his neofolk passages, such as the aforementioned English ballad, would benefit from a greater complexity and depth. Festung Nebelburg has an acceptable sound, it just needs to be a bit more intricate.

Contact: http://www.festungnebelburg.de

(article published 26/1/2008)

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