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As the Wolves Died - 91%

Noctir, November 11th, 2011

Nachtfalke's fourth full-length album, As the Wolves Died, was released on Christhunt Productions in 2005. This record picks up from where Land of Frost let off, yet takes things to a darker realm, possessing more of a grim feeling hearkening back to Moonblood. By this point, the band's sound was solidified as a mixture of Bathory-inspired Viking Metal, mixed with pure Second Wave black metal.

The album begins with "Call from Udgaard", which is a simple synth intro, though not entirely necessary. Over the years, many bands got the impression that intros were obligatory, and too few utilized them in a proper manner.

The first song is "Wrath of Old Gods", which sounds like a continuation of Moonblood, consisting of fast tremolo melodies, blast beats and grim vocals. The guitar tone is fuzzier and thinner, rather than the heavier sound that was prevalent on the last record. The riffs flow naturally from one to the next and are haunting in their own way.

"Let Me Die" starts with a medieval intro, before launching into an epic sound inspired by Bathory. It is a mid-paced track that includes some rather majestic guitar melodies. The lyrics tell the tale of a Norse warrior that is prepared for death, not out of any sort of misery or anguish but having accomplished what he set out to do in this world and being ready to fight on in eternity. This song is a bit repetitive, with no real variation in tempo, but the atmosphere is such that any sort of fast section would have been out of place.

"Let me die Allfather
And awake in Valhall
My blood runs for you
That you can hear my call"

"Praise the War" is another song that is reminiscent of Moonblood's glory days, with the only difference being the deeper vocals of Occulta Mors. The riffs are tremolo-picked, but there are parts where the drumming slows down and the song takes on a more epic vibe for a few moments. This song is quite memorable, especially the faster parts, and is easily identifiable as being Nachtfalke.

The full-on Viking metal approach returns on "Midsummer", which really displays a lot of Bathory worship, such as the subtle clean guitar chords that are added in. The riffs are monumental, in a sense, and give off the feeling that something significant is soon to be upon you. This is almost like something that one would expect to hear as you prepare for the final battle at the end of the world. There is one melody near the end, in particular, that is absolutely brilliant. It screams Bathory, but it does not matter. Such genius should be hailed, regardless of where the inspiration comes from.

"When the Wolves Return" has an atmosphere all its own, not really sounding like any of the other songs. It has more of a subdued feel, with a bit of synth to accentuate the atmosphere. The old school drum rhythm is a nice touch, as well.

The next song is a cover of Bathory's "Blood and Iron". Land of Frost was the first Nachtfalk album to not include a cover song, so it was pleasant to see that As the Wolves Died revived this tradition. Keeping Quorthon's spirit alive is a very admirable thing and this band certainly does justice to his work and his legacy. Occulta Mors does a great job with the music and is unbelievably good at reproducing the same tone for the vocals. At times, one could swear that he just took the original and added some distortion to it, as it is very dead on.

The album ends with "Hail the Old Gods", which is an instrumental that really continues the vibe from the Bathory song. It has a very introspective and sombre tone, ending things in a gloomy way.

As the Wolves Died is yet another solid release from Germany's Nachtfalke. With this one band, the legacies of Bathory and Moonblood are carried on with pride and honour. The sound is unique, in that I have not heard any other band mix these styles. Rather than taking the folk-based approach and making something light and weak, Occulta Mors keeps his music rooted in black metal, never forgetting where he came from. This is an essential release for fans of this band or the style in general. Buy this now.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com