FALKENBACH

Viking Metal • Germany
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Falkenbach is a one-man German folk/viking metal project created by Vratyas Vakyas (literally, "The Searching Wanderer"). Vratyas Vakyas lived in Iceland for a considerable time, but now lives in Düsseldorf, Germany again. Throughout the band's lifetime, Falkenbach has progressed from a rawer, more "black" sound towards viking-influenced folk metal with mainly clean vocals. Vakyas' music is nowdays accompanied by session musicians. 1989: Vratyas Vakyas recorded the 1st tape called "Havamal". The tape contains 3 tracks and was limited to 9 copies.

1991: Vratyas started to play guitar in a band called "Crimson Gates". Two demos (unreleased) were recorded between 1991 and 1993 and two live performances took place. The band decided to split up in 1994.

1995: The tape "Laeknishendr" was recorded and mixed, containing 6 old re-recorded tracks. In 1995 the recording session of Falkenbach's debut album "The Fireblade" began, due to heavy problems with the studio equipment Vratyas
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FALKENBACH albums / top albums

FALKENBACH ...En Their Medh Riki Fara... album cover 2.90 | 8 ratings
...En Their Medh Riki Fara...
Viking Metal 1996
FALKENBACH ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri... album cover 2.82 | 10 ratings
...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri...
Viking Metal 1998
FALKENBACH Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty album cover 3.94 | 8 ratings
Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty
Viking Metal 2003
FALKENBACH Heralding: The Fireblade album cover 3.88 | 8 ratings
Heralding: The Fireblade
Viking Metal 2005
FALKENBACH Tiurida album cover 3.72 | 7 ratings
Tiurida
Viking Metal 2011
FALKENBACH Åsa album cover 3.75 | 4 ratings
Åsa
Viking Metal 2013

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FALKENBACH Reviews

FALKENBACH ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri...

Album · 1998 · Viking Metal
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SilentScream213
I’m just gonna come out and say it: it sounds too goofy. The flute and folky medieval instruments are playing melodies that sound akin to a festival or something. The atmosphere that’s built here is disjointed, as the heavier and darker, blackened aspects of the music do not agree with the more jovial folky stuff. It’s epic and uplifting sure, but not in a cool way. Vocals and instrumental ability are good, I’m just not always a fan of the melodies crated here.

However, this is almost entirely averted on the closing track, instrumental Baldurs Todd. More energetic double bass drumming drives an atmospheric soundscape that actually succeeds in conveying a serious, powerful atmosphere. It has all the power of a 90’s boss battle theme, but does unfortunately stray into silly territory a few times.

The album is fine, but again, the atmosphere just doesn’t work here, and for a style reliant on atmosphere, that’s a big flaw.

FALKENBACH ...En Their Medh Riki Fara...

Album · 1996 · Viking Metal
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SilentScream213
An amalgamation of Black, Folk, Viking, and even some Symphonic Metal, Falkenbach’s debut is a unique piece of art that spans many fields. The eclectic collection of music is well written, produced and preformed, making it a very solid if varied package.

The opening track is a blistering assault of pure Black Metal, and it might give you the wrong impression opening with such fast aggression. In stark contrast, the second track is folky, slow, mostly clean-sung and full of medieval, traditional instrumentation. You never quite know what you’re gonna get after that, with every track falling somewhere in between here. It keeps the entire listen interesting and ever changing, full of possibility. Each style is quite well done too.

Personally, I prefer the more Black-Metal styled songs here. The “epic” Viking/Folk tracks too often fall into goofy territory. I’ve no problem with cheese, in fact I usually adore it, but some of the flutes and vocals here and there sound like silly cartoon castle music, and since I don’t believe they were going for that, it’s a bit of a miss. Still innovative and impressive by all means.

FALKENBACH ...En Their Medh Riki Fara...

Album · 1996 · Viking Metal
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siLLy puPPy
One of the very first Viking metal acts to emerge alongside the great Bathory was FALKENBACH which has pretty much been the brainchild of Markus Tümmers better known as Vratyas Vakyas who was born in raised in Germany but found inspiration while spending time in Iceland in the late 1980s. With his Teutonic origins combined with the Old Norse mythology and folk flavors of Iceland, Vakyas formed FALKENBACH as early as 1989 and released his demo “Havamal” the very same year and could be considered the very first example of German Pagan metal or what would become known as Viking metal although Bathory usually gets the creds for releasing his landmark “Hammerheart” the following year in 1990 but then again “Havamal”

FALKBENBACH ( German for “falcon brook”) released five demos before finally getting around to this full-fledged debut album …EN THEIR MEDH RIKI FARA… which is Old Norse for “…And In Glory Will They Go…” For those not in the know, the Icelandic language is the closest thing to Old Norse and therefore retains a lot of the folklore in tact which clearly has been the inspiration for reviving the mythologies and traditions of the Pagan revivals in the metal universe along of course with neighboring Scandinavia. If you’re familiar with Viking metal at all, you are probably accustomed to think that the style is a bit less dramatic than its second wave black metal counterpart with more emphasis on folk music and slower clean vocal lamenting rather than caustic black metal rage but that’s where EN THEIR truly surprises.

This album is actually a brilliant mix of Darkthrone inspired black metal, Old Norse folk music and the dreamier atmospheric style of metal that would become known as Viking metal once the term was established. This debut album originally consisted of seven tracks and was mixed in 1995 / 96 and initially released on cassettes limited to only 250 copies but as FALKENBACH gained notoriety the album was predictable reissued numerous times with bonus tracks on some. At this stage FALKENBACH was basically a one-man show with Vakyas performing all vocals, guitars, bass, drums and keyboards but make no mistake, EN THEIR sounds like a full band experience and a very compelling one at that.

First of all EN THEIR is very melodic with the Old Norse folk music as the canvas upon which the black metal wraps its caustic little tentacles around. Despite these early origins and lo-fi production values, Vakyas clearly had an ear for epic soundscapes which had already gestated into monstrous sprawling compositions with a couple tracks such as “Heathenpride” and “"Ásum ok álfum nær..." ("Near Gods and Elves…”)" sprawling past the seven-minute mark. The music is also well paced with a nice balancing act of dynamics, tempos and mood-enhancing elements. The lyrics are all in Old Norse but even if you don’t understand the lyrics, there is a sense of ancient wisdom tucked away into the artistic approach that serves as a connection to the long forgotten past.

True that FALKENBACH would craft more refined and better recorded albums a few years down the road but the musical accomplishment already present on this first offering is quite impressive as Vakyas had already mastered the art of epic compositional fortitude that is vital for the atmospheric and emotive styles that Pagan black metal and Viking metal requires. Since this album has been re-released and given a facelift, it has pretty much become a bonafide album in the FALKENBACH canon and one that should not be missed as it offers ample doses of all the ingredients that constitute a great Pagan metal album and unlike Bathory’s Viking metal phase, offers some bonafide second wave black metal moments as well.

FALKENBACH Tiurida

Album · 2011 · Viking Metal
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Time Signature
Metal shall you know...

Genre: folk / black metal

The tracks on this album may be divided into two categories: folk metal and black metal, and it seems like the overall source of inspiration is Bathory - the legend of viking metal.

The tracks in the first category, some examples of which are "...Where His Ravens Fly...", the instrumental "Tanfana", and "Runes Shall You Know", are dominated by the folk music influence. The vocals are clean and melancholic, and all melody is folk-derived. Moreover, these track include folk instrumentation (some is keyboard-based), which performs most melodies such that the classic rock instrumentation becomes more of a background to the folk melodies. In some cases, though, the guitar is allowed to play a lead melody.

The black metal tracks are still very much under the influence of folk music, but here the vocals are snarled or growled in the typical black metal fashion, and the electric guitar is moved to the foreground. Some examples are "Time Between Dog and Wold" and "In Flames". I should reiterate that even these tracks are still anchored in folk metal, and they are kept in the same 3/4 midtempo as the other tracks, and they are melodic with no brutality or aggression to them at all.

In terns of atmosphere, this album is quite good. The viking folk nature of the music and the nature of both lead and vocal melodies contribute a very melancholic and dark atmosphere to the album, and it certainly is worth listening to several times because of the atmosphere. However, I do think that all the tracks on this album tend to become monotonous and, characterized by repetition, some are even on the verge of becoming boring.

Then again, repetition is considered a quality according to traditional black metal standards, and it is possible that the use of repetition is a deliberate import from the black metal genre, in which case, I am sure that black metal fans with enjoy and appreciate the monotony of this album. I do think, though, that "Tiurida" will appeal more to folk metal fans than to black metal fans.

FALKENBACH Tiurida

Album · 2011 · Viking Metal
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adg211288
Tiurida (meaning ’Glory’) is the fifth full-length album by Germany’s Falkenbach, released in 2011, a little over five years since the previous output, Heralding - The Fireblade, which was released in late 2005.

The music of Tiurida falls into two distinct categories – folk metal and black metal. Most of the album is a folk metal release but there are a few tracks where things take a turn into the more extreme black metal territory. The group, who actually only consists of the one constant member in Vratyas Vakyas (though he has collaborated with the same three session musicians on the last three albums, with the addition of a session bass player on Tiurida), pull off both styles particularly well, making Tiurida a really glorious release (see what I did there?).

Tiurida begins with a short intro, dubbed with the unimaginative name of just Intro and not really adding anything to the record (it’s one of those pointless intros), before we get the first of six actual songs, ...Where His Ravens Fly...This track is a staple of the real folksy side of Falkenbach, which is quite the atmospheric experience with clean vocals delivered in an almost chant like fashion, melodic lead guitar and plenty of acoustics. The guitar riffs here are the only real black metal elements to songs such as this, in complete contrast to the next track, Time Between Dog and Wolf, which focuses on black metal and sees the lead vocals taken over by session member Tyrann, with Vratyas Vakyas performing some chants which add in folk edge again.

It’s then back to a more folk metal driven sound for the instrumental Tanfana. I really like this track’s folk melody and atmosphere and I could listen to this a lot just for those atmospherics, but from a neutral standpoint I have to confess that at times this track doesn’t seem to really go anywhere and I think that even though I love it, that it may be too long for some at five and a half minutes. Sunnavend can also be considered an instrumental because the vocals seem to only be used to add to the atmosphere. Falkenbach does the style of folk metal really well, and the melody used here is brilliant.

Runes Shall You Know is another song like ...Where His Ravens Fly..., delivered in the same sort of style. A nice track, but it seems kind of lacking when put up next to ...Where His Ravens Fly... In Flames follows this one, and sees a return of the growled vocals but with more a focus on folk instrumentation again, making it feel like less of a black metal piece than Time Between Dog and Wolf. For its length there aren’t actually made vocals in the song though. Like much of Tiurida there’s a lot of instrumental work going on here. I do think that there is perhaps too much of a focus on instrumental on the album, but at the same time I do find that the instrumentation is really well done, and I saw again, very atmospheric.

If this sounds like the sort of music you’re looking for then I say go right ahead a get yourself a copy of Tiurida, because this is a really great solid release. It doesn’t exactly feel like a masterpiece to me, at times it seems formulated even, but what it does sound like is music made by a guy who knows what he does and does it extremely well. I think that next time though I’d like a bit more balance between instrumentals and vocal pieces, because I feel that the vocal talents are the most underused element in the Falkenbach sound here, and as always, dropping the useless intro piece would be a great idea. But all in all, nothing really to dislike here for the folk metal fan.

Some versions contain the bonus track, Asaland, which is an old track redone from Falkenbach’s demo days. I don’t know the original, but I have to say this track features some of the more intense guitar riffs on the whole album, while keeping true to the atmosphere felt in the main tracks. An instrumental, it’s a good edition to the collection of songs on offer, but for me doesn’t quite stand up to the main album’s instrumental offerings.

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