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Following the Wanderers Path - 70%

Noctir, November 20th, 2011

Following the Wanderers Path is the fifth L.P. from Nachtfalke, and marks a bit of a turning point. For the first time, Occulta Mors enlisted the aid of session musicians to help out in the studio, including someone else to handle the clean vocals. The songwriting is more oriented toward Viking Metal, this time around, with hardly any traces of the Moonblood sound left. Released in July 2007, this record would be the band's last, for some years to come.

It starts with "Call of the Gjallarhorn", opening with the sounds of a raging battle from centuries ago. The actual song is pure mid-paced Viking Metal, with a very triumphant vibe to it. The Bathory influence is obvious, though one could say that the primary purpose for this band's existence is only to carry on Quorthon's legacy, so this could be seen more as tribute than anything else. The verses features clean vocals, while the refrains offer a mixture of clean and harsh voices. The synth is kept to a minimum, but utilized to accentuate the epic atmosphere. This is kind of unnecessary, since the guitar solo is ten times more effective.

"My Skin is Bark" is an odd track, sounding quite similar to something from Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. Nearly everything, from the riffs to the synth, seems like a carbon copy of that Norwegian album. The reason that it is strange is because, while it does represent some remnant of the band's Black Metal side, it sounds nothing like their previous material and has nothing to do with continuing the Moonblood style.

"Amid Ancient Forests" is an instrumental interlude, featuring acoustic guitar and some nature sounds. The tone is sort of sombre, but not too much so.

The previous track leads into one of the very best songs on here, "To Stars High Above". As is so often the case with Nachtfalke, this is pure Bathory worship and it is done extremely well. It does not get much more epic than this. The mid-paced riffs carry a majestic feeling and the clean vocals add to this. There is a Doom riff that is injected into the track, a couple times, and accompanied by harsh vocals. This results in the darkening of the overall atmosphere. Again, keyboards are used, but not in an overbearing manner. The riffs and vocal lines are very memorable, which is something that can be said for much of this band's output.

"As a Falcon through the Night" starts out mid-paced and a little dull, but speeds up for a few moments, here and there. The problem is that the riffs are too upbeat and possess a happy, medieval feeling. One has to question whether or not Occulta Mors was alone in the songwriting, since he allowed others to participate in the recording of this album.

The next song is a cover of Bathory's "The Woodwoman", which turned out pretty well. This is not the first track from that album that I would consider recording, but it is not a bad song. It sort of fits the general tone of the L.P. in that it is rather average.

"Calm Before the Storm" is another acoustic interlude, which does little to add to the flow of the album and does not have much character, really.

"Halls of Hell" is the only track that hearkens back to Moonblood in any way, though the riffs that do so are interrupted by others that seem to come from somewhere else. There are some strange synth effects that give the song an odd vibe, not necessarily in a good way. As the song moves along, it slows down and offers a couple more riffs that sound very typical of Occulta Mors. This is followed by a section that utilizes some open-arpeggio chords, helping to give things a morose feel. The harsh vocals are more passionate and miserable than on any other song, here.

The final proper song is "Beyond the Fire", a mic-paced affair with an emphasis on clean vocals, though not exclusively. The main riff seems very familiar, but I cannot place it. This track is rather repetitive, with a decent solo to liven things up a little, near the end. A good, solid song.

"Dawn of a New Age" is another acoustic instrumental that could have been left off or re-worked, somehow.

Following the Wanderers Path is a definite step down from As the Wolves Died, being a little inconsistent and dull. It is not bad, by any means, and can be quite enjoyable; however, the quality of the songwriting does not hold p under close analysis, especially when compared to its predecessors. There are moments where Nachtfalke really shines, but they are a bit less frequent this time around.

Written for http://ritesoftheblackmoon.tripod.com

Boring album; not up to Nachtfalke's standard - 60%

vorfeed, December 21st, 2007

This is the fifth full-length album from Nachtfalke, a German band playing viking black metal.

The intro here has every Viking Metal cliche rolled into one: the battle sample taken from a movie, the super-bombastic keyboard intro, and of course he's got the knob on the Casio turned to "choral Valkyrie hit" ("ah!" "ah!" "ah!" "yawn!") Fortunately, the first track really makes up for it, with aggressive riffing and great growled/chanted vocals. The battle horn & wind outro is very nice, as well; I only wish the rest of the sampling on the album were so restrained. "To Stars High Above" is another excellent song -- between the slow, triumphant rhythm parts and the soloing, there's a huge amount of "Blood On Ice" influence on this one! The vocal variation on this track also top-notch. I also like the emotional guitar work on "As a Falcon Through the Night". "Beyond the Fire" is another "Blood on Ice" style song; again, the twin vocal styles are used to good effect here.

Unfortunately, the rest of the tracks are either boring and typical ("Halls of Hel", "My Skin Is Bark"), or barely one minute long (almost everything else). This album has too many samples, too many acoustic intros, and *way* too many cheesy keyboards. And as usual with Nachtfalke, the less said about the Bathory cover, the better...

"Following the Wanderers Path" is not bad, but I don't think I can recommend it, unless you're a total nut for the snoozy, late-Graveland Viking sound. How I miss the aggressive, almost death-metal Nachtfalke from "Hail Victory Teutonia"! This band can do so much better than this.

Stand-out Tracks: "To Stars High Above", "As a Falcon Through the Night", "Beyond the Fire"

Review by vorfeed: http://www.vorfeed.net

Average viking metal - 45%

beletty, July 30th, 2007

When I think about Nachtfalke, that fuzzy and expanding music comes to mind, with screeching solos, soaring growls, Hey's, choruses, intense drumming and the mandatory Bathory cover. The first 2 albums were like this for sure. Then Nachtfalke started losing musical momentum, opting for a more cold and controlled sound. On this album Occulta Mors takes distance from his black metal roots using seemingly less growls and more and more chanted vocals or a combination of both. He even lost his german accent. The chanted vocals suck and don't have the necessary "Oomph!" to inspire the Teutons in slaughtering hordes of poles. The growled vocals are rather inspired by black metal acts such as Antaeus or Deathspell Omega. I'm not saying Occulta Mors copied these bands, I'm just describing the vocals by comparison. "My skin is dark" and "Halls of Hel" are the only songs where only growls are used. So the vocals department sucks. What about the other instruments? The guitar riffs are standard, no solos to be found. The guitar itself sounds very heavy-metallish. No more fuzzy sound, the production is clean and that doesn't belong here. But we all know what a great drummer Occulta Mors is, and he doesn't fail to deliver. Intense, precise and chaotic. That'll resume his performance behind the drum kit.
The music doesn't lead anywhere, too many cheesy chants and acoustic guitars. This sound like a sped up Doomsword with black metal vocals. It screams average from beginning 'till end. Get the first two albums instead!