FALKENBACH | ASA [ICELANDIC VIKING/BLACK/FOLK METAL] REVIEW BY KATIE METCALFE

387165I’ve been listening to Falkenbach for several years, and so was eager and excited about being given the opportunity to review Vratyas Vakyas’s sixth album Asa which is released via Prophecy Productions.

The album artworks kicks things off to a fucking magnificent start. If I’m being honest, Falkenbach have never had a bad album cover. Though this one is quite possibly my favourite. It doesn’t only work as a dramatic piece of art, it also works to transport me. I can smell the mist and feel the chill rising from it.

The first track Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan begins with some beautiful female choral vocals, that sound otherworldly, but it isn’t long before a strong wave of percussion and guitars sweeps in. The production is sharp, like the blade of a knife yet to make its first cut. The vocals come in and fuck, they’re utterly mesmerizing, though it isn’t a surprise. I don’t think there’s a Falkenbach track that fails to seduce me. I ought to add here that Vakyas wrote the lyrics in an almost extinct German dialect. The guitar solos take you up to unimaginable heights. Every note is crisp and clear, like a Scandinavian lake just before the ice sets in for winter. This song is multi-layered and textured and so, so satisfying.

The vocals in Wulfarweijd  burrow into your bones and break them apart. The tempo is fast as fuck, like a wolf tearing after a young caribou. It’s a bold track, infused with furious black metal and folk elements, rammed with this most incredible energy. You don’t feel as if you’re on the sidelines. You feel like you’re right in the middle of it and the thrill is utterly infectious. It slows down towards the end, sinking back into gentle folk inspired passages. But then it kicks back off again and you’re shocked back into a new rhythm.

The third track Mijn Laezt Wourd  has an alluring intro, which starts off gently. I like that I can make our every note. There’s something about this track which harks back to the 1998 release Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri but it still maintains its own spirit.

Bronzen Embrace has a fury within it that wasn’t present in the tracks before. The tempo is breakneck to start off with, but drops back slightly, though maintaining a real intensity. It’s an urgent track, that’s also undeniably unique.

Eweroun has a stilted, calm acoustic intro and these utterly glorious clean vocals. There’s a real beauty about this track. It goes beneath the surface of my skin, and sends an almighty shiver down my spine. It’s wonderfully rich, perfectly balanced, heavy with emotion, feeling and substance. I could listen to it on repeat for hours.

I Nattens Stilta  is raw, distorted and a kick in the teeth in comparison to the previous track. There’s a fierce brutality about it, however, it still manages to slip in some ethereal elements, but they’re used in such a way that it doesn’t tip the balance, and maintains a sure fire ferocity. It’s a full bodied, varied, highly accomplished track. Music of this calibre can, I think, only be created by someone who has had years to mature and strengthen their creative core. Just past mid-way it takes an entirely different direction, becoming something really quite surreal. It shouldn’t work, but fuck me it really does.

Bluot Fuer Bluot is utterly captivating. I’m sort of at a loss for words really. It’s catchy,  mesmerising and even light hearted in moments. Mid-way the wind turns. The wolves catch our scent and come running, and blistering black metal attacks all of your senses. Then it’s back into that ridiculously catchy melody, that just sweeps you up and off your feet like a devious gust of wind. The almost soft acoustic ending fits perfectly.

Stikke Wound kicks off with an entrancing riff that rides along with an infectious, swift drum beat. When the vocals smash onto the scene, it’s like being battered in the chest by an iron shield. There’s something of a heavy metal vibe to this track at times. But before it crosses over the line into excess, it launches itself headfirst back into black metal battle. This track is fuelled with energy and passion.

The final track Ufirstanan Folk comes too soon. The closing moments of this voyage are bold and hugely memorable.

In my opinion, Asa is the strongest Falkenbach album yet. Every song was a journey in itself. Listen. Take my advice. Set some time aside to devote entirely to this album. When the final notes fade, you’ll feel the most incredible rush through your entire system, and for a while, life will be fucking glorious. [10] https://www.facebook.com/falkenbach