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Boring and uninspired - 1%

e5150, April 13th, 2008

The Album "Nordwind" by the Band Slartibartfass is by far the worst album i have ever bought. Before grabbing this album I already saw the band performing live on several occasions. As a result I did not expect much from their first studio output, but things are even worse.
The best thing about it is the cover artwork by Wolfgang Greiner. It really fits the title Nordwind (engl. Northwind) very well, but unfortunately the same picture is also used as back cover.
The Album itself starts with an intro. You hear the sounds of thunder and rain, then an acousic guitar sets in, which plays an atmospheric but not very original melody. Would work fine, if it would not be accompanied by an accordion every now and then, which sounds quite out of place.
Then the actual music starts. Most of it sounds like a really bad copy of Finntroll's music. There drumming is very basic, and so are all of the riffs and melodies. The timing of the drums and the guitars often sounds wrong. Keyboards often play a leading role in the songs. Throughout the album you will hear several fancy folk-instuments, that sound -most of the time- as if they are played just for the sake of being on the album. They just don't add anything positive or interresting to the music. You won't find anything catchy on this record. Not even the "Trinklied" (engl. drinking song) attracts me to open a bottle of beer.
In the end you get the feeling that Slartibartfass tried to record a party album in the vein of Finntroll or Korpiklani -but fail. There is absolutely no inspiration, boring music and almost no musicianship during the 25 minutes of the record.

There's something here to build on - 50%

kapitankraut, October 26th, 2007

Slartibartfass' debut "Nordwind" is a promising release, but falls flat in a number of key respects, which I'm sure the band will be able to improve upon.

With a name like this, referring to Douglas Adams' character "Slartibartfast", who created the fjords of Norway, the band was always going to play viking metal or something of that variety, and "Nordwind" doesn't disappoint here. The lyrics may be in German, but the band's collective heart is clearly in the north, with lots of references to mead and so forth.

Slartibartfass is also not afraid to use some unusual instrumentation. There are a great many more appearances of keyboards than one might otherwise expect on an album like this, including what can only be described as a sprightly boogie-woogie rhythm on "Baldurs Tod", which is a surprise to say the least. In fact, the whole album feels quite fresh musically-speaking, which makes a great change from the traditional template for this kind of music.

Unfortunately, though, "Nordwind" falls on three key fronts. The first of these is that it's simply too short to do anything much. The entire album is over in just over 25 minutes, with more than 7 of these being devoted to the title track. In a style of metal traditionally known for epic lengths, this comes across as a problem. There just isn't that epic feel that I like on my viking metal albums.

The second problem is that it suffers from an over-emphasis on experimentation. The different instruments I mentioned earlier are great, but frequently they get in the way of what should be going on, which is creating a memorable listening experience. Instead, we have a number of glockenspiels and other things turning up in places where a guitar riff would probably not be out of order.

Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, the vocals don't work. My preference where viking metal is concerned is for the vocals to be harsh but understandable. These vocals are harsh in an almost comical fashion and almost impossible to understand - and I speak German fluently. The vocals here seem to get in the way of the music, rather than building on it.

That said, there's a fair amount of talent going on here. With a more focused approach and a clearer sense of identity, Slartibartfass will sound a lot better.