FALKENBACH — ...En Their Medh Riki Fara... (review)

FALKENBACH — ...En Their Medh Riki Fara... album cover Album · 1996 · Viking Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
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.
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