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Avoiding rapids - 73%

Felix 1666, February 3rd, 2019
Written based on this version: 2011, CD, Icarus Music

First rule: either you have absolutely meaningless song titles which are not worth mentioning or you should not print them in black letters over a picture with black trees. Falkenbach forgot this golden rule on "Tiurida" and therefore I welcome you to songs like "Tanfa...?" or "Runes shall... w". Thank God, we have M-A that helps us. Nevertheless, a crude design, but the sound of Falkenbach's fifth full-length does not suffer from comparable deficiencies. "Tiurida" is based on a clear, organic appearance which gives the music room to breathe.

So what about the music in general? The heathen from Düsseldorf has always had very good song-writing skills. The intro can be neglected, but each and every of the remaining tunes scores with coherent, slightly hypnotizing melodies. Falkenbach paint great pictures of sweeping landscapes and their vastness is fascinating. Sometimes the songs have a melancholic touch, sometimes they appear as the soundtrack for a long and silent journey through autumnal forests. The material is located between folk and metal and I wish that it would be slightly more powerful, but the one-man-army behind this project seems to be the epitome of inner balance. Even the tracks with darker, more vehement parts, "In Flames" for example, have surprisingly soft facets. Honestly speaking, these configurations remain a mystery to me, because they drain power from the tracks. "In Flames" starts with enchanting yet robust guitar tones, but its silent middle section reduces this very promising number to a normal level.

Let the truth be told, it's not easy to be fair to an album like "Tiurida". On the one hand, I appreciate the fact that the music relies on outstanding melodies. Moreover, the artist still does not focus on commercial success. He seems to play what he feels and he does not care too much about the expectations of his supporters. On the other hand, Falkenbach once performed a more combative style and I miss the rapid rhythms of the debut. Furthermore, all melodies point in the same direction. This results in an homogeneous output, but the level of excitement remains manageable during the entire playtime. Maybe (or surely) I am not the right person to review this kind of pretty cautious music. I like it, but it does not make my pulse run faster. "Time Between Dog and Wolf", the only song with more or less aggressive and raw vocals, marks the exception to the rule. However, I don't understand why Falkenbach did not pen one or two "real" metal songs. Even this mid-harsh number is equipped with Tiamat-esque background vocals ("aaa-haaa-haaa-haaah"), just remember their quite strange "Wildhoney".

After all, one thing is certain: "Tiurida" is free from fillers. Falkenbach's first outputs remain untouched in terms of quality, but this album makes more sense than the slightly half-hearted compilation "Heralding - The Fireblade". The captain avoids rapids and due to this, he does not show his entire competences. This and the fact that the German poem in the booklet is also hardly readable are marring the overall impression of a good yet somewhat defensive work.

Great at What They Do, But They Only Do One Thing - 50%

FullMetalAttorney, April 21st, 2011

Germany's Falkenbach is one of the oldest folk metal bands out there, having formed in 1989. They are also cited as an early viking metal band. Tiurida is the band's first album in six years, the longest they've gone between releases since their first album in 1996. I had heard the band before, but I couldn't remember anything about them. So, I decided to try it out.

The album starts with a minimalist intro before moving seamlessly into "...Where His Ravens Fly..." You know those aerial shots they use in movies where the camera moves quickly but steadily over the landscape? Imagine one of those going for 7:25, showing a fjord-dotted coastline with waves crashing, before finally panning the camera upward to watch the sunset and fading to black. But instead of a camera and an actual coastline, this is constructed with slow-paced guitars, folksy flute, massive drums, and epic clean singing. It's an astonishing feat to create this vision, especially when the lyrics are in some language incomprehensible to me.

But then imagine they repeat this shot, over and over again with slightly different landscapes, for the course of the whole movie. Sure, sometimes it moves mid-paced instead of slow, the vocals occasionally go into an At the Gates style growl, and the folksy parts might be provided by guitar or some other instrument instead of just the flute. It's one establishing shot after another, but there's only setting and no plot, no conflict, no action to be found. To be fair, Falkenbach is incredible at what they do. But they only really do one thing.

The Verdict: I see the appeal of this kind of music, but I can't figure out why anyone would want to hear a whole album of it. It's frankly quite dull after a while. I guess now I know why they didn't leave much of an impression the first time.

originally written for http://fullmetalattorney.blogspot.com/

Brings the folk! - 85%

SparrowDay, March 22nd, 2011

Originality is hard to come by in the vast realm of folk metal. Although the music can certainly be catchy and undeniably fun, the essence of the word ‘folk’ is seemingly lost within much of the culture. This is why Falkenbach mastermind Vratyas Vakyas’s understanding of, and dedication to, traditional folk music sets Falkenbach at the top of the pack.

The first Falkenbach demo Havamal (1989) was purely clean folk music, and although the compositions have since been infused with metal touches, Falkenbach’s latest release arguably keeps closer ties to folk music than it does heavy metal. If any band deserves the title of ‘Folk’ or ‘Viking’ metal, it is Falkenbach, and Tiurida is perhaps the finest example of it yet.

No Falkenbach album would be complete without a mood-setting introduction, complete with falling rain, crackling thunder and chirping birds. Although this has pretty much become the norm in the folk/viking metal community, a look at Vakyas’s vast catalogue pretty much solidifies him as one of the originators of such techniques (aside from the legendary Quorthon (RIP) of Bathory, notably one of Vakyas’s biggest influences).

Although it would be difficult to accuse Vakyas of stealing such ideas from other contemporaries, anyone familiar with previous Falkenbach albums can easily parallel this intro to his past efforts. The first track from the 2003 opus Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty opens the album with a nearly identical sound-scape – a distant foghorn transitioning seamlessly, and in tune, into the first track of the album.

Although it’s hard to ignore such blatant borrowing from Vakyas’s previous works, the production and effectiveness of the section have certainly been improved after 8 years. The grand notes of the foghorn effortlessly set both the notes of the first song and the mood of the entire album in one swift stroke – informing listeners that the atmosphere and songs are not two separate entities, but rather one powerful force that carries its audience into the olden worlds of Nordic mythology.

The first full song ‘…Where His Ravens Fly…’ is a perfect example of Falkenbach’s current, matured sound. While older releases relied heavily on synthetic string and wind instruments to create that ‘Viking’ atmosphere, this first track displays how an eclectic array of folk instruments and lush vocal arrangements can achieve a similar character even more effectively.

The heightened production and relatively simple compositions of Tiurida greatly lend themselves to this organic sound. Vakyas’s use of distorted, drawn-out chords fashion a perfect palette for acoustic guitars and flutes to play melodies and harmonies above. ‘Runes Shall You Know’ and the closing track ‘Sunnavend’ are both prime examples of an acoustic guitar taking the melodic lead, while electric guitars provide a harmonic backdrop.

In addition to Vakyas’s unique arranging methods, he is not afraid to introduce major key and modal elements into his songwriting. The lively instrumental ‘Tanfana’ features a bright Lydian melody performed by a flute. In the dark and brutal realm of heavy metal, to call such composing rare would be an understatement. These unique experiments make Tiurida an exciting listen and, once again, tie Falkenbach’s roots much closer to folk music.

The darker expressions on Tiurida are executed in a slower and more brooding fashion than those on Falkenbach’s previous full-length, Heralding – The Fireblade. This 2005 release featured a very broad range of dynamics from track to track, switching between mid-paced Viking anthems and furious pagan black metal. Tiurida’s dynamics rely much more on diverse harmonies and melodies, rather than drastic changes in speed and aggression. For example, both ‘Time Between Dog and Wolf’ and ‘In Flames’ march at similar paces to many other tracks on the album, but the shrieking vocals and predominately minor chord progressions set them apart as much more melancholy offerings.

These changes in mood make Tiurida an emotionally compelling listen from start to finish, and the subtlety with which this is achieved lets the album truly feel like a single entity, rather than a collection of songs – and this is where the album prevails over its predecessor. (This is not necessarily surprising, for Fireblade was comprised of many rerecorded demo tracks, whereas Tiurida is newly composed material.)

Rather than folk-infused metal, Tiurida would almost be more accurately described as metal-infused folk. Stripping away the distorted guitars and harsh vocals, the listener is left with infectious and memorable folk songs. Similarly to other great folk metal bands, the heaviness simply adds power and heart to these epic tales and myths. Although this latest Falkenbach recording may not be the most daring step forward, its strong songwriting and diverse instrumentation will give even the most casual followers of the genre an extremely satisfying listen.

(Originally written for http://www.guitarmessenger.com/reviews/falkenbach-tiurida/)

Good not Great - 66%

JDeathScript, February 9th, 2011

Under the moniker Falkenbach, Markus Tümmers (aka Vratyas Vakyas) has been producing his own brand of Bathory-esque folk metal since 1989. In that time he's managed to release, on top of a handful of demos, a total of five studio albums. Tiurida, his fifth, came after an over-long period where fans had heard no new material. The previous album, Heralding- The Fireblade, was a re-recording of many of his early demo tracks and the album preceding it, Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty, was released eight years prior to Tiurida.

While eight years is a long time to wait for new material, the name Falkenbach stayed on the tongues of folk metal fans and Tiuridaquickly because the most anticipated album of this artist’s career. Unfortunately, I don't think too many fans will feel it lived up to their expectations....

Those that know of Falkenbach know he/they specialize in mid-tempo, epic folk metal ala the previously mentioned, Bathory. If you were looking for the extreme or the heavy, it'd be best if you looked elsewhere. Falkenbach's brand of folk is reliant on the sounds of nature, ancient melody, and acoustics to transport the listener to another time, perhaps for some another place. Look to Falkenbach for escape from the rat race, the city, paved roads, and landscaped lawns. But if this is to be your first helping of Falkenbach, perhaps look to his earlier releases then come back to this, the more lack-luster Tiurida

Tiurida starts off with a brief intro track that neither adds too nor takes away from the album as a whole. Immediately following, and perhaps with out you even realizing, it transitions into the song Where His Ravens Fly... Fans will, without a doubt, recognize this off the bat as a Falkenbach album and old memories will flood back into their conciseness.

Formula is key. But formula might have sealed this album's sarcophagus because while it sounds unequivocally like a Falkenbach record, it falls just short in the 'catchy' department. Fans will know what I mean, while some of Tümmers earlier releases have hooks that sink their teeth into you and don't let go, this album simply comes and goes, perhaps a little too briefly, without as many stand-out moments. Songs like the aforementioned Where His Ravens Fly..., Tanfana, and In Flames are for me the high points on this album but, had this been my first Falkenbach record it may have eventually moved to the place where my CDs go to die to make room for something else.

That being said, a subpar Falkenback record is still better than twenty of the greatest 'cut-in-the-mold' albums from any one of the myriad of bands that seem to dominate the folk metal scene these days. I still own this record, and I'll still come back to it from time to time though I'll probably opt for ...Magni Blandinn Ok Megintirl... or records of it's ilk if I want to enjoy Falkenbach as anything more than background music.

(Originally written for www.metalcallout.com/heavy-metal-reviews/review-falkenbach-tiurida.html)

Falkenbach - Tiurida - 70%

ThrashManiacAYD, February 7th, 2011

The last half-decade since Falkenbach exhibited any sign of life has seen the musical world surrounding this reclusive entity change significantly, a fact not entirely irrelevant given the prominent position in which this bands name is held in Viking/folk metal circles. Enigmatic, individualistic, perhaps even stubborn is composer and he who is Falkenbach, Vratyas Vakyas (though for some years now most instruments have been handled other 'members') whose no live performance policy and apparent disinterest in listening to metal music (if interviews I read with him are anything to go by) instantly set Falkenbach on a different footing to the Viking/folk scene that has grown around them since formation in 1989.

Falkenbach's sound has always lain considerably more towards the epic, mid-paced Bathory "Hammerheart"/"Twilight of the Gods" feel than what is commonly known as folk metal these days (a strong reason why an Alestorm fanbase will bear little crossover to those following these guys), which in their current twee guise positions them low down on any scale of musical 'heaviness'. As such "Tiurida" trots along in it the inimitably recognisable and enjoyable style that could not possibly be another artist, yet trotting along a little too serenely is my overall consensus, especially when put aside 2005's quite startlingly good "Heralding - The Fireblade". The likes of "Tanfana" and "Runes Shall You Know" are laden with the kind of catchy hooks and rhythms that have allowed Týr to rise so far in the time it has taken Falkenbach to release this album no. 5, Vakyas and co knowing full well if a formula ain't broke don't bloody well fix it and sticking to this principle look your fair-weather folk metal fan does to his plastic sword.

Thus it is not that Falkenbach haven't progressed musically which causes me to mark "Tiurida" down, but that we here don't have that pulsating energy and fiery burst more commonly found on the band's earlier works. Vakyas' protestations of listening solely to the likes of Wagner is most apparent indirectly through his Bathory-isms rather than any form of symphonic, bombastic Teutonic greatness; a feeling of residing too greatly in the comfort zone which permeates throughout. Having said all of this, yours truly already possesses the golden gatefold vinyl version of "Tiurida", proudly purchased despite being given a free legal mp3 copy to review. Some bands are just worth that extra effort…

Originally written for www.Rockfreaks.net

The Viking Ship Vratyas pulls in again! - 92%

Draedyn, February 4th, 2011

It’s been a long six years for Vratyas’ fans and even longer since a complete sounding album was pressed under the name of Falkenbach, but this years offering comes darned close. Tiurida doesn’t precisely pick up right where Heralding – The Fireblade left off and that is a good thing. It instead goes back a bit further to Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty and finally seems to unite all of those new directions that Vratyas had developed for Falkenbach throughout those years.

Tiurida has a measure of everything in it to please every faction of Falkenbach’s fanbase. “Time Between Dog and Wolf” and “In Flames” bring a measure of ferocity back to Falkenbach’s sound and gives something new for the black/viking metallers to enjoy alongside their old Falkenbach favourites; with the aid of the Vindsval members shows well in these tracks. Although I would not say that it’s the riffs that are providing this ferocity, as they are very much long, drawn out “Falkenbachesque” rhythms and melodies, the drums and singing are what stands out here. The drummer seamlessly pounds under the guitars, utilizing his double kick as more of an accent to where he feels the music needs it versus simply jogging along to the whole track. The singer, although sounding moderately slurred at first, sings akin to a man who wants to provide anger behind the lyrics. He sounds almost as if he was half yelling whilst growling out the words and had to be volume adjusted so he didn’t take up too much spotlight.

For the fans of the more epic, Falkenbach brings forth “Runes Shall You Know” and “Where His Ravens Fly…” These tracks really shine through on this album and deserve to be listed amongst the best of Falkenbach. They are gems to listen to and the lyrics really fold you into the fantastic worlds and lands that Vratyas paints with such songs – past company being, for example, “Into The Ardent Awaited Land” or “The Heathenish Foray”. The choral style singing works extremely well in these songs and provides a resonance behind the lyrics that causes their words to stick with the listener. Vratyas has clearly worked on his singing over the years as his presentation rises above the other members of his small choir, even though it sounds like he tried to keep it even, and the fantastic singing that marked “Havamal” (from Ok Nefna…) as one of Vratyas’ best new musical directions once again shows here. See “Runes Shall You Know”.

The last three tracks to mention “Sunnavend”, “Tanfana” and the rerecorded “Asaland” can best be summed up as the reasons why this album isn’t a 100% effort, as they are all tracks that sound incomplete. “Tanfana” is a great sounding song with excellent music that deserves of some lyrical direction, but for whatever reason received none and its replay value compared to the other songs will suffer for that fact. This song easily could have been another “Time Between Dog and Wolf” or “In Flames” and would have provided a nice dichotomy on this album between the epic and the fierce!
“Sunnavend” has some quickly sung lines in it that sort of stave off the instrumental moniker and though this track could have duelled with “As Long As Winds Will Blow” considering its penchant for acoustic guitars, but it falls short sadly due to the lack of extended lyrics and will more than likely get the same treatment as “Tanfana”. As for “Asaland”, well, this song seems simply like a bad attempt at bringing back the instrumental excellence that was “Baldurs Tod”. It does however succeed in taking a horrendous demo recording and transform it into a properly arranged song. Hell, it might even grow on me.

Overall, this album comes very close to sounding as complete as the first two offerings and gives those past Falkenbach masterpieces a good run for their money. Though it falls short at providing a perfect dichotomy due to some unfinished sounding songs this is a definite step in the right direction for Falkenbach.

Falkenbach set his bar too high. - 95%

Kneurosis, January 29th, 2011

Let me preface this by saying that Falkenbach is one of the best in the business. A mediocre album by him beats the shit outta almost any album by any pagan metal band out there.

My wife's probably about ready to smash the stereo and strangle me with the speaker wires cos I've played this album about 15 times in the past 24 hours. I just got it and I've been waiting years for it to come out, so she can deal.

I can't complain. This is a good album. For those who are familiar with pagan/viking metal, you know that every song has to open with sounds of the ocean (foghorns, breaking waves, creaking docks, seagulls, etc.) or with sounds of a faerie-populated forest (tweeting birds, rustling leaves, and shit like that). For those of you familiar with Falkenbach, you know that he's always opted for the former. This album is no different.

And that's my complaint: He's ripping himself off. He's produced some amazing music in the past, and now he's slightly altered some of his best tunes. Like many geniuses before him, he appears to have ran out of ideas. At least he's stealing from his own good ideas.

The album opens with an intro that sounds all too similar to the opening song of “Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty”. More viking foghorns. Blah blah blah.

It bleeds into “Where His Ravens Fly”, one of my favorite songs on the album. Clean vocals and an interesting melody only Falkenbach would create, but not altogether dissimilar to “Havamail” on “Heralding the Fireblade”. Still, the melody is catchy and unique, repetitive and to put it bluntly, addictive.

The sixth track, “In Flames” is another of my favorites on this cd. Again though, it doesn't take much imagination to compare it to “Where Blood Will Soon Be Shed” from the album “Magni Blandinn Ok Megintiri”. The rhythm is the same, the melody is just a bit different.

All in all, “Tiurida” is a good album and the obvious next step from his previous release. If this is as far as Falkenbach can take his creativity in music, he can keep pumping out albums and I'll keep buying them. He's done so well that it's difficult to see how he could improve. But if you're looking for something different than “Heralding the Fireblade”, you should probably listen to a different band.