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Better folk than metal - 70%

autothrall, April 25th, 2010

Slartibartfass is another in the endless stream of bands who choose to incorporate heathen/folk elements into their music, but they do it quite well. Funkenfeuer is their third album, and most accomplished to date, largely due to their excellent use of bagpipes and synth/intro pieces.

The first two tracks here are both excellent instrumentals, which captivate the imagination and atavistic genes within the listener (provided you have said European genes). "Schleier der Vergangenheit" has the sounds of horns and pipes cutting through the rain dark backdrop, along with the cawing of birds. "Ein Ruf aus fernen Zeiten" emits some shining, beautiful synth-work, kind of like old Vangelis meets delightful folk, and the track grows pretty intense. At this point, I wanted the album to remain a wonderful instrumental work, but "Der letzte Winter" introduces the ol' folk metal charge, and the German snarling. Though it tries hard to work up a fervor of epic combat, the riffs just aren't that interesting, and you long for more of the band's bagpipes and Jewish harps. It's not all a waste, "Schwabenkinder" has some strong moments, and the closing track "Stimme des Windes" is both vibrant and powerful, with the pipes shining through and the keyboards providing a suitably epic landscape.

The production values of the record are certainly not at fault for any of its lapses into mediocrity: the keys and pipes sparkle and swell, and the guitars and drums are very well mixed. The band can rival any peer when it comes to the incorporation of its folk half, but sadly the metal just does not live up to it, as is the case with so many of these types of records. Overall, this is still a fine record, but I think the band could be capable of more.

Highlights: Schleier der Vergangenheit, Ein Ruf aus fernen Zeiten, Stimme des Windes


A strong and varied release... - 85%

SleepwalkerATF, March 22nd, 2010

I had my doubts until half way through this release. This album contains more variety than any I have heard in a long time. Rainstorms, crows, bagpipes, piano, synthesizers...I thought it was an instrumental of keyboard sounds for a while! It isn't until the third track that you hear the crushing guitars or hammering drums.
The actual band performances on 'Funkenfeuer' are typically upbeat and contain plenty of driving drum rhythms underneath bagpipe leads, vicious vocals and solid grooves. Once you get accustomed to banging your head, Slartiblartfass will unleash a piano and melodic vocals that beg you to get up and dance until you have spilled all of your bier. The keyboard passages are moving and epic, as they should be and these guys know how to establish a mood and a rhythm just as well as they know how to take one apart! The title track contains the most complex twists and turns and 'Schwabenkinder' brings out a series of serious headbanging attacks sprinkled with...a vibraphone, maybe?! Fingerbells?! I don't know but that track alone is worth owning this album...the guitars establish excellent grooves alongside the drums and keyboards. I couldn't help but really enjoy this track...and it was a B-side!

Slartiblartfass aren't afraid to experiment and broaden their horizons, even if it means losing a sense of focus. A worthy listen, all in all.
(Originally written for