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One of the paths less trodden during folk metal’s rapid expansion has been the one forged by the so-called German medieval rock bands like Subway to Sally and In Extremo in the early to mid 90s. While the reverberations of the fiddle-assisted thrash of Skyclad and Bathory’s epic, viking-themed bleakness would be felt across the metal world, the bagpipe-fuelled sound of the medieval rock bands to this day remains for the most part within Germany’s borders.
Nachtgeschrei are a fairly new band to take a stab at this style, and are no exception to the rule, hailing from deepest, darkest Hesse. Less outlandish than some of the bands that they share a playing field with, they have only 2 traditional instrumentalists in their ranks - Dominik Stephan on bagpipes and flutes and Joachim Penc on accordian and hurdy-gurdy - with some of the more fanciful stuff like lutes, shawms and harps falling by the wayside.
The pipes lead the way, accompanied by generous use of chiming acoustic guitars and the lilting vocals of Holger Franz to craft a suitably wistful atmosphere, shifting between harder-hitting metal rhythms and softer, melodic rock songs. Lead guitar, as always with this style, is at a premium, with Stephan very much the lead musician.
Unlike, for another recent example, Italy’s Folk Stone though, the bagpipes are not intrusively overstated, and though he they are a more or less constant presence are not always front and centre and avoid becoming insufferable by providing more subtle background arrangements. The lack of lead guitar is also less desperately noticeable than on Folk Stone’s debut CD and reflects the more refined style of writing of Nachtgeschrei.
What holds ‘Am rande der welt’ back is that, for all the colourful melodies and the authentic, organic vibe the band have struck, the individual songs on the whole just do not stick. It may just be that I can’t get past the language barrier (and shame on me if that is the case), but most of the songs musically just don’t do enough to be at all prominent from one another.
There is however a strong run of tracks from 4th to 6th that stand out somewhat and give a good picture of the heavier and softer styles Nachtgeschrei jump between. “Fernweh” is a soft, acoustic-reliant rock song regularly punctuated by a masterful bagpipe melody and guided mostly by Franz’s bittersweet vocals. “Niob” on the other is a heavier, energetic and undoubtedly metal song with more of a ‘jigging’ rhythm and sonorous pipe playing that gets the best out of the instrument in regard to this type of music. The last of this trilogy, “Lauf!” is a bit less memorable than the 2 songs that it follows, but sways between softer verses and heavier sections to bridge the gap between the rock and metal aspects of their sound. This is something Nachtgeschrei generally manage quite well on the whole, and they have avoided any awkward and obvious stylistics leaps that could interrupt the flow of the CD.
The rest of ‘Am rande der welt’ easily holds its own and is a pleasant listen, but there aren’t really any other songs that leap out and make a name for themselves. It makes for quite pleasant background music and is definitely a bit different to the more usual variants of folk metal cluttering up the market these days, but doesn’t really do enough to demand a great deal of attention.
(Originally written for http://www.metalcdratings.com/)
Folk metal is certainly in vogue at the moment with huge numbers of, mainly European, bands out on the circuit bringing their brands of happy melodies to the masses, and as we are entering the wonderful festival season it seems as good a time as any to dissect the values of one or two of those whom have yet to make their mark on the genre. Of course, folk metal is perfect fodder for drunken enjoyment at summer festivals and whether its birth was formed with this intention in mind is debatable but for any FM (will it catch on?) album to 'pass' it must be suitable for the stage, and ideally, digestible to a large following.
And therein lies the problem with Nachtgeschrei - they aren't going to be digestible to anyone outside the German-speaking region. Some own language styles/bands can work, hell I saw Týr last night who were brilliant and sing largely in Faroese/Danish/Icelandic, but Nachtgeschrei just sound so German that a natural musical barrier is formed. Also, incase you were wondering if the band could pull off a coup by being successful despite the language barrier then on the basis of "Am Rande der Welt", they shall not. Undoubtedly to the chagrin of everyone who might've read Massacre Records' description of an 'ageless medieval rock' band as something cool and exciting, it certainly isn't. Nachtgeschrei are essentially a German rock band possessive of folk instruments, sometimes performing 'heavier', sometimes very soft and sappy, and always sounding like In Extremo. Early songs on the album like "Muspili" and "Herz aus Stein" are folk metal for the Alestorm generation - all style and no substance, led by said folk instrumentation that make for an amusing bouncy performance but offer nothing substantially new to the genre. It is with "Fernweh" where things really start to plummet however - acoustic guitars take the lead during vocal patterns in what is essentially a pop song. In German. One could argue the usage here of the folk instrumentation is different to the norm but the song's structure is so inherently commercial in nature that the band's worth to a folk metal-craving audience has gone out the window and it becomes hard to accept Nachtgeschrei from here on for whatever they want to be known as.
I should've known from many Wacken experiences that bands like In Extremo and Subway to Sally were there for the locals only, and Nachtgeschrei can now join that dubious list of disinterest to all foreigners. Too many songs end up sounding the same and with a weak spine in the album's acoustic elements backing much of the proceedings, "Am Rande der Welt" simply won't be successful here in Britain. As for Germany, well that's anyones guess.
Originally written for Rockfreaks.net
If you've been lacking some melodic German folk metal of late, then you may wish to sample the sophomore effort of Nachtgeschrei, which serves up a slice of liter metal fare with some moving bagpipes and synthesizers, ever tasteful and used solely to drive the ghostlike native tongue of vocalist Holger Franz. Though the band cites In Extremo as an influence, and there are some similarities, this is far catchier.
The simmering acoustics of "Fiur" lament the day before the heavier guitars accumulate with some searing melody, parting for the first vocal track "Muspili" which features some great pipe playing and hard rocking verse. Franz' voice uses a mid range here but each line is delivered with passion, his performance throughout the album is memorable. "Herz aus Stein" and "Fernweb" are both pretty amazing pick me ups with vibrant melodies soaring atop well selected, driving metal chords. "Niob" has some shaky and haunting vocals with a big chorus breakdown. "Lauf" flows from grooving acoustics to another wall of majestic melody. Other good tunes include "Der Totmacher" and the wonderful closer "Glut in euren Augen".
This is pretty much pure pagan folk, but if you're expecting snarls or growls this is not the place. The band sounds fantastic thanks to a high production standard, whether it's the acoustic builds or the infallible sense of melody across the soaring chorus. The vocals are original, captivating and never descend into the silly antics of similar bands. This is one manly, excellent album, well worth tracking down if you like your folk metal on the playful side i.e. Korpiklaani.
Formed in 2006 in Frankfurt, Nachtgeschrei are a relatively recent addition to the folk metal/rock world. However, in that short period they've made an impact with two demos, leading to them being signed by Massacre Records, and their first album in 2008. The band's newest offering, "Am Rande Der Welt", was released on 20th March and is another solid offering of folk metal/rock.
The band themselves say they were heavily influenced by In Extremo and Subway To Sally, which is definitely noticeable when listening to the music, but there are also some similarities to fellow countrymen Morgenstern.
The first two songs are a very good start, but the next couple of tracks have a lot of melodic rock moments that, in my opinion, take away from the energy and flow of the album. The fifth track, "Niob", is a slight improvement and returns to the standard folk metal formula but, unfortunately, this back and forth between good (if somewhat unoriginal) folk metal moments and crappy melodic rock continues for the entirety of the album. The pattern for most of the songs is basically the same, with melodic verses followed by folk/metal choruses.
Of course, as is to be expected with this type of music, there are quite a few sing-a-long moments, but they fall far short of saving this album from being somewhat disappointing.
Top Tracks: "Niob", "Windfahrt"
( Originally written for http://www.metalreporter.com )