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A Genuine Warrior Spirit - 100%

PrincipleOfEVIL, July 7th, 2009

With so many folk/viking bands sounding the same, especially german ones, either being like Riger or like XIV Dark Centuries, while this is not a bad thing, some variation would be welcome as they eventually all sound all the same, which results in boredom and saturation. But... Enter Nebelhorn and its main man Wieland with his unique style for a serious and refreshing music.

Blending black metal with folk and viking metal, Nebelhorn manages to create some genuinely original and inspired music. The only similar band I can think of is Kampfar, but it's just a remote ressemblance.

From the aptly titled intro ''Schiffe am Horizont'', with sounds of horns and ships sailing, we can picture drakkars debarking to raid, which happens in the first song, ''Strandshög'' with screams and fire samples. Music here is slow to mid-paced, with numerous blast-beats, brooding and powerful. Every song is built around a single guitar riff, which is repeated through the song many times with slight variations, usually with tempo changes, which creates a trance-inducing, hypnotizing atmosphere. Heavy guitars play the dominant role, supported by aggressive drumming. Sometimes acoustic guitars replace the heavy ones, or play with them, usually in some break, save in ''Hel die Streitaxt'', which is a very narrative and calm hymn in which the protagonist sings a hymn to Hel, goddess of the dead. This soong is the only to be sung with clean vocals only. There is also a melancholic hymn to friendship ''Einste Freunde'', and it's just before 'Hel die Streitaxt'', providing a strong emotional impact when the album ends. The vocals are mainly black metal rasps, which aren't very varied, but are instantly recognizable, expressive and understandable.There are also clean ones, supportive chanted as well as leading, and they are sung by a guest vocalist. There is good keyboard work on the album. Keys never smother the guitars, but appear selectively to conjure the required effect and often enhance the atmosphere.

Every song is long, takes time to developp and invokes pictures of warriors and old times. All songs are sung in german, which suits the music perfectly, as german sounds harsh and compelling, a perfect language for tales of warfare. The production of the album is very balanced, guitars are given a darker tone than in other folk-viking albums, keys remain in the background and vocals resound like a clarion call, with powerful wardrums to back up their commanding tone. The only thing that i think would not appeal to everyone are the extended and repeptitive song structures, but thats not a flaw per se. Also, this is a one-man project, so it's deserving to be credited for great compositional skill.

After listening many times to this album, I never felt boredom, but was able to enjoy the album even more and feel a deeper conection with the music; discovering new layers, so I can only recommend these great war hymns to any belligerent spirit out there. Go, Wieland! Up the horns!

Ah. Another Viking. - 57%

Sean16, December 13th, 2006

Of course, we’ll always need more Vikings, for the final battle against the global mediocrity of this world. And there’s no doubt the day said battle will take place Quorthon and Valfar will both return from Valhalla to lead the charge, shortly followed by the guys from Einherjer heading a numerous horde starring members from Moonsorrow, Enslaved, Falkenbach, and the list goes on and on. Eventually, lost in the anonymous simple warriors’ crowd, you’ll be likely to find Nebelhorn.

In fact, there’s little here any Viking metal listener won’t have already heard before, often in a better fashion. The overall sound is typical with its rough production, raspy guitars, muffled down blastbeats and screaming vocals, while epic choirs, horns, bagpipes (in one song), swords’ clashes and wind samples haven’t been forgotten either. But even when the ingredients are present, the recipe has to be applied well enough to get a presentable dish, you know, and Gen Helwegs Grund overall amounts to a rather tasteless one. The music on this release may be highly reminiscent of Kampfar, but quality-wise Kampfar still stands far away. And Kampfar isn’t even close to be my favourite Viking act.

Most songs are overlong and monotonous. Granted, Viking metal is inherently repetitive, and potential war hymns are supposed to be a tad brainwashing, but too much is too much. One often gets the impression each riff is repeated four times where only one would be sufficient. Das Nebelhorn or Nagelfahre (clocking at nothing less than eight minutes...) may give the most striking examples, but the same could be said of almost every track, all the more that all of them are built on the same tempo. As there isn’t much variation in the vocal lines either, this album rapidly ends up as barely more than background music. Without mentioning the use of German often sounds iffy. Though the great Richard Wagner, who wrote his operas in German, may be acknowledged for having brought back Scandinavian mythology to the front of the scene, few Viking metal releases are sung in this language, which consequently seems a tad out-of-place here. Even if it still fits the music better than, let’s say, Italian; but I now have to find an Italian Viking band...

Surprisingly the most distinctive tracks are the two last, which also are the shortest ones as well as the only ones showing clean vocals; what suggests they might not have been written at the same time, but it’s a simple guess. The closing Hel die Streitaxt is the only acoustic tune of this release and, even if it has been heard a hundred times before as well, it nonetheless brings a welcomed relief – gather ‘round the fire, people, it’s time for some fun, with flutes and tambourine. Coming to the majestic march Einst Freunde it may be the most interesting piece of work here, overall slower, clearer-sounding, and even a bit melancholic.

The fact is, there is nothing awful on this album, and the Viking vibe is well present – it’s just too bland and repetitive to be captivating from the beginning to the end. If you’re in desperate need for swords and drakkars you may still track it down, otherwise, there are far more interesting Nordic bands around here.

Highlights: Gen Helwegs Grund, Einst Freunde