Falkenbach – Asa

Falkenbach-AsaAsa is the first Falkenbach release (their 6th) that I have sat down and listened to in years. Not saying the musical pursuit of sole member Vratyas Vakyas isn’t worth the time or effort, rather the few older titles that I do own, …En Their Medh Riki Fara… (first album) and …Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri… (2nd) are both enjoyable, just a bit too unintentionally predictable as Vratyas’ audial long ship rolls through triumphant, though well navigated pagan metal seas. In fact, it is apparent that the 15 year gap in my Falkenbach collection hasn’t lost stride with what I know. For fans of this style of plodding and largely in key/melodic metal with traditional instrumentation and vocals that rely both on clean singing and harsh heaven scaring screams, the lack of variation between albums is probably a welcomed and familiar path that you want Vratyas to uphold. So have I missed anything? Asa is good, just nothing earth shattering enough here to tare me away from Blood on Ice or the Nordland albums.

Asa is all about a mid-paced ever moving flow. No matter if the vocals turn black, or stay on pitch, the music maintains that 4/4 push. The unencumbered delivery allows the power chord dominant music to effortlessly sink in for that instant understanding, but this doesn’t bode well for extended time spent and desire to want to spin this album repeatedly. The acoustic guitar is used effectively on Asa, though sparingly, giving tracks like Bluot Fuer Bluot, Eweroun, and Mijn Laezt Wourd a pleasing folk dimension where the German dialect just seems the perfect form when the clean singing rules the songs. Flute and synth creep into the equation as well and add a subtle atmosphere and build upon the rudimentary folk aesthetic driving Falkenback. This does periodically make the traditional black metal feel more aggressive when Mjolnir finally falls, but there is no shaking that you know where the songs are going to go as you’re listening.

With a full production and excellent imagery tying up the loose ends, Asa is a fine Viking/pagan metal album for those of you eager to pick up everything the genre has to offer. My problem with this album… it feels too predictable or safe to fully get lost in the journey. Even though the vocals are perfectly in key and sound really pure, the vocal rhythms themselves follow the heavy dirge too closely. Vocal/musical separation and feeling would have unlocked so much more excitement. Perhaps if those harmonies were just a bit more triumphant, and Vratyas worked with more layers/depth to unlock ancient worlds and atmosphere mentally, Asa would have been far more impressive. As it stands, he knows what this project is and how to arrive at a style that works. You’ve established a sound, now do something special with it. Perhaps I’ve been listening to too much Summoning the past 6 months to take anything in this style remotely seriously. -Marty
Prophecy Productions

~ by martyworm on October 16, 2013.

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