Nachtfalke began as a side project for Occulta Mors, better known
for his work with the legendary German black metal band Moonblood. As that collaboration came to an end, he decided to simply
to continue with his other project and use the riffs accordingly. While his signature songwriting style is still quite evident,
there is a much stronger influence from Bathory's Viking-era. This element could already be found in some of the Moonblood
material, but took on a more prominent role in Nachtfalke. After somewhat inconsistent debut album, the band returned in 2002
with Doomed to Die, released on Christhunt Productions.
The album begins with
"Valhalla", opening with an intro suitable for The Lord of the Rings. After a minute
or so, the razor-thin tremolo riffs rise from the darkness and are joined by intense drumming and wild vocals. Occulta Mors
does not utilize as grim and harsh of a vocal approach as Gamaalzagoth did, but it is not too far off. He also manages to
employ a bit of clean vocals during the refrain, as the riffs shift to a thrashier style. These passages add an epic feeling
to the song, thus making it a bit less dark than one might have expected. This track is pretty straightforward and shows quite
a bit of improvement over the previous record.
"Pestkrieg" possesses a very dramatic feel, and is driven by mid-paced
tremolo melodies, assisted by the drumming. The atmosphere is sombre, at times, but not to the extent where it becomes overtly
depressive. The production suits the music well and is still rather raw but boasts a higher degree of clarity which enables
all of the elements to stand out moreso than on albums like Blut und Krieg or Taste Our German Steel.
The next song is a cover of Bathory's "Home of Once Brave"
and, incredibly, Occulta Mors does a very decent job on vocals, coming very close to matching the tone that Quorthon used
over a decade before. This does well to maintain the atmosphere of the original song, while also blending in with the rest
of the material and helping to form a cohesive whole.
"Fallen Heroes" starts out with a slow riff that sustains the
vibe from the previous song, before transitioning to something faster. The mournful tremolo riffs are, again, reminiscent
of Moonblood and give an idea of what that band would have sounded like with a clearer production. There is a bit of variation
in the tempo, with slower sections appearing near the middle and a return of the intro theme.
The final song is "Einherjer
(Doomed to Die)". It is a slower song that actually reminds more of Burzum than Bathory, and the atmosphere is melancholic
throughout. There is a bit of keyboard use that is rather minimal and adds to the eerie vibe. There is a miserable feeling
conveyed by this song, but moreso in the sense of being aware of some horrible fate that is inescapable rather than drowning
Doomed to Die is a very solid album and does well to preserve
the legacy of Moonblood as well as to further establish Nachtfalke's sound. There is a good balance between the original songwriting
style of Occulta Mors and the strong Bathory influence, even working a cover song into the mix without sacrificing the flow
of the album. All of the songs work well together to create a cohesive album, rather than a mere collection of songs. That
was one of the main issues with Hail Victory Teutonia. The only real complaint with
this record is that it is only 34 minutes long. However, sometimes, less is more and it is better to leave your listeners
hungering for more instead of boring them to tears. This is highly recommended for fans of Moonblood, Viking-era Bathory or
epic black metal, in general.
(5 Oct. 2011)
Land of Frost, the third offering
from Germany's Nachtfalke, was released in Christhunt Productions in December 2003. On this record, Occult Mors continues
the work that truly began on his previous effort while taking the Bathory-worship to a new extreme. As with Doomed to Die,
there is still a decent amount of material that carries on the dark legacy of Moonblood, but the overall atmosphere of the
album is less dismal and more frozen and epic.
It begins with "The Windlords", which bursts forth at full speed, after
a lengthy intro. The guitar tone sounds somewhat similar to Abyssic Hate, though the music here is vastly superior. This track
does well to start things out at a furious pace, and really works well within the overall context of the album. The vocals
are impassioned and suit the vibe of the music, perfectly. The lyrics are quite similar to what one would expect from Immortal,
and the similarities with that Norwegian band do not end there.
"Ragnarök" is the longest song on the album, clocking
in at nine and a half minutes. The introductory riffs are reminiscent of the material from Hammerheart, though the mood changes
rather abruptly. The arrangement is brilliant and the miserable feeling is almost overwhelming. This song sounds somewhat
like "Einherjer (Doomed to Die)", from the previous album, yet it is even more melancholic. The woeful vocals add a sense
of despair and pure misery to the atmosphere, aiding the guitar riffs in creating a sense of loss and mourning. It makes sense
that it bears similarities to the aforementioned track, based on the lyrical theme that is present in both. While there is
a faster section, later on, the song is predominantly mid-paced and possesses a very epic feeling.
The next song is
"Berserker", starting out with a Bathory-inspired riff but soon transitioning to pure Immortal worship. To his credit, Occulta
Mors does a very good job at incorporating this style into the overall tapestry of Land of
Frost. This really sounds like a lost track from Battles in the North, as even the vocal performance is more in the
vein of Abbath's style. The guitar riffs, drumming patterns and even the clean guitar passage all scream Immortal. Most importantly,
it is done well.
"Immortal Home" is next and this is the real highlight of the record. It was also the first Nachtfalke
song that I heard, so there is a bit of sentimentality attached as well. The riffs are completely derivative of Bathory and
it is done beautifully. If not for the harsh vocals, this could easily be mistaken for one of Quorthon's hymns. It even includes
the backing choir. This mid-paced epic creates an atmosphere that is majestic and strangely sad as well. It evokes an odd
feeling, almost like being homesick for a place that does not exist; or at least, not anymore.
Things speed up with
"Men from North", utilizing cold tremolo riffs and yet sounding very little like Moonblood, as one might expect. There are
times when the bass guitar is heard more than usual, and the backing choir returns for the mid-paced refrain. This song is
fairly simple, alternating between the fast and slower riffs and keeping up the epic feeling that bleeds forth from this album.
final track is "Land of Frost", which is strange upon first listen due to the clean vocals and high-pitched scream, at the
beginning. It seems much more upbeat and thrashy, with harsh vocals dominating most of the track. Though it takes a listen
or to to get used to, this song is actually very good and adds yet another dimension to the album.
Land of Frost is a great record that manages to surpass Doomed to Die,
if only slightly, in terms of songwriting and execution. It offers more variation and the epic nature of the album is far
beyond what its predecessor was capable of. The fact that some of the songs sound so similar to other bands does not detract
from the overall experience and the skill in integrating those styles into Nachtfalke's music is exceptional. Buy this.
(6 Oct. 2011)
Nachtfalke's fourth full-length album, As
the Wolves Died, was released on Christhunt Productions in 2005. This record picks up from where Land of Frost let off, yet takes things to a darker realm, possessing more of a grim feeling hearkening back
to Moonblood. By this point, the band's sound was solidified as a mixture of Bathory-inspired Viking metal, mixed with pure
second wave black metal.
The album begins with "Call from Udgaard", which is a simple synth intro, though not entirely
necessary. Over the years, many bands got the impression that intros were obligatory, and too few utilized them in a proper
The first song is "Wrath of Old Gods", which sounds like a continuation of Moonblood, consisting of fast tremolo
melodies, blast beats and grim vocals. The guitar tone is fuzzier and thinner, rather than the heavier sound that was prevalent
on the last record. The riffs flow naturally from one to the next and are haunting in their own way.
"Let Me Die" starts
with a medieval intro, before launching into an epic sound inspired by Bathory. It is a mid-paced track that includes some
rather majestic guitar melodies. The lyrics tell the tale of a Norse warrior that is prepared for death, not out of any sort
of misery or anguish but having accomplished what he set out to do in this world and being ready to fight on in eternity.
This song is a bit repetitive, with no real variation in tempo, but the atmosphere is such that any sort of fast section would
have been out of place.
"Let me die Allfather
And awake in Valhall
My blood runs for you
That you can hear my call"
"Praise the War" is another song that is reminiscent of Moonblood's glory days, with the only difference being
the deeper vocals of Occulta Mors. The riffs are tremolo-picked, but there are parts where the drumming slows down and the
song takes on a more epic vibe for a few moments. This song is quite memorable, especially the faster parts, and is easily
identifiable as being Nachtfalke.
The full-on Viking metal approach returns on "Midsummer", which really displays a
lot of Bathory worship, such as the subtle clean guitar chords that are added in. The riffs are monumental, in a sense, and
give off the feeling that something significant is soon to be upon you. This is almost like something that one would expect
to hear as you prepare for the final battle at the end of the world. There is one melody near the end, in particular, that
is absolutely brilliant. It screams Bathory, but it does not matter. Such genius should be hailed, regardless of where the
inspiration comes from.
"When the Wolves Return" has an atmosphere all its own, not really sounding like any of the
other songs. It has more of a subdued feel, with a bit of synth to accentuate the atmosphere. The old school drum rhythm is
a nice touch, as well.
The next song is a cover of Bathory's "Blood and Iron". Land
of Frost was the first Nachtfalk album to not include a cover song, so it was pleasant to see that As the Wolves Died revived this tradition. Keeping Quorthon's spirit alive is a very admirable thing and this
band certainly does justice to his work and his legacy. Occulta Mors does a great job with the music and is unbelievably good
at reproducing the same tone for the vocals. At times, one could swear that he just took the original and added some distortion
to it, as it is very dead on.
The album ends with "Hail the Old Gods", which is an instrumental that really continues
the vibe from the Bathory song. It has a very introspective and sombre tone, ending things in a gloomy way.
As the Wolves Died is yet another solid release from Germany's Nachtfalke. With this one band, the legacies
of Bathory and Moonblood are carried on with pride and honour. The sound is unique, in that I have not heard any other band
mix these styles. Rather than taking the folk-based approach and making something light and weak, Occulta Mors keeps his music
rooted in black metal, never forgetting where he came from. This is an essential release for fans of this band or the style
in general. Buy this now.
(7 Nov. 2011)
Following the Wanderers Path (2007)
Following the Wanderers Path is
the fifth L.P. from Nachtfalke, and marks a bit of a turning point. For the first time, Occulta Mors enlisted the aid of session
musicians to help out in the studio, including someone else to handle the clean vocals. The songwriting is more oriented toward
Viking metal, this time around, with hardly any traces of the Moonblood sound left. Released in July 2007, this record would
be the band's last, for some years to come.
It starts with "Call of the Gjallarhorn", opening with the sounds of a
raging battle from centuries ago. The actual song is pure mid-paced Viking metal, with a very triumphant vibe to it. The Bathory
influence is obvious, though one could say that the primary purpose for this band's existence is only to carry on Quorthon's
legacy, so this could be seen more as tribute than anything else. The verses features clean vocals, while the refrains offer
a mixture of clean and harsh voices. The synth is kept to a minimum, but utilized to accentuate the epic atmosphere. This
is kind of unnecessary, since the guitar solo is ten times more effective.
"My Skin is Bark" is an odd track, sounding
quite similar to something from Emperor's In the Nightside Eclipse. Nearly everything,
from the riffs to the synth, seems like a carbon copy of that Norwegian album. The reason that it is strange is because, while
it does represent some remnant of the band's black metal side, it sounds nothing like their previous material and has nothing
to do with continuing the Moonblood style.
"Amid Ancient Forests" is an instrumental interlude, featuring acoustic
guitar and some nature sounds. The tone is sort of sombre, but not too much so.
The previous track leads into one of
the very best songs on here, "To Stars High Above". As is so often the case with Nachtfalke, this is pure Bathory worship
and it is done extremely well. It does not get much more epic than this. The mid-paced riffs carry a majestic feeling and
the clean vocals add to this. There is a Doom riff that is injected into the track, a couple times, and accompanied by harsh
vocals. This results in the darkening of the overall atmosphere. Again, keyboards are used, but not in an overbearing manner.
The riffs and vocal lines are very memorable, which is something that can be said for much of this band's output.
a Falcon through the Night" starts out mid-paced and a little dull, but speeds up for a few moments, here and there. The problem
is that the riffs are too upbeat and possess a happy, medieval feeling. One has to question whether or not Occulta Mors was
alone in the songwriting, since he allowed others to participate in the recording of this album.
The next song is a
cover of Bathory's "The Woodwoman", which turned out pretty well. This is not the first track from that album that I would
consider recording, but it is not a bad song. It sort of fits the general tone of the L.P. in that it is rather average.
Before the Storm" is another acoustic interlude, which does little to add to the flow of the album and does not have much
"Halls of Hell" is the only track that hearkens back to Moonblood in any way, though the riffs that
do so are interrupted by others that seem to come from somewhere else. There are some strange synth effects that give the
song an odd vibe, not necessarily in a good way. As the song moves along, it slows down and offers a couple more riffs that
sound very typical of Occulta Mors. This is followed by a section that utilizes some open-arpeggio chords, helping to give
things a morose feel. The harsh vocals are more passionate and miserable than on any other song, here.
The final proper
song is "Beyond the Fire", a mic-paced affair with an emphasis on clean vocals, though not exclusively. The main riff seems
very familiar, but I cannot place it. This track is rather repetitive, with a decent solo to liven things up a little, near
the end. A good, solid song.
"Dawn of a New Age" is another acoustic instrumental that could have been left off or
Following the Wanderers Path is a definite step down from
As the Wolves Died, being a little inconsistent and dull. It is not bad, by any means,
and can be quite enjoyable; however, the quality of the songwriting does not hold p under close analysis, especially when
compared to its predecessors. There are moments where Nachtfalke really shines, but they are a bit less frequent this time
(7 Nov. 2011)
Nachtfalke's sixth full-length album, Wotan's
Return, was released by Christhunt Productions in 2011, four years after the band's previous effort. The lengthy time
in-between records was enough to build a great deal of anticipation in some fans, while others probably assumed that the project
was no more. Often, when so many years pass, musicians will come back with something quite inspired and worth the wait. Unfortunately,
that is not quite the case with Wotan's Return, which is a mixed bag, of sorts. It
is a good album, but not without a good handful of flaws.
The album begins, strangely, with a cover song. Nachtfalke's
rendition of Bathory's "Shores in Flames" is not bad, sounding quite a bit like the original version from Hammerheart, but it is not all that remarkable. Moreover, it is very peculiar to open an album with a cover
tune. All in all, this was just not a very good idea. It is no secret that Occulta Mors likes to include a Bathory track on
each album, but its placement is completely wrong, not to mention the fact that Wotan's Return
features two covers, not one.
This is followed by the title track, which maintains a bit of the gloominess of the first
song, but in a different manner. This is a rather meandering affair, with harsh vocals and keyboards added in, along with
acoustic bits and brief clean singing. It does not flow very well, and none of the riffs are interesting.
the Woods" is an instrumental track that begins with an acoustic passage. There are some sound effects that help bring the
title of the song to life, as well. This is not the most impressive composition and it really feels incomplete, as if it was
meant to have vocals but nothing could be figured out. The lead melodies are alright, but nothing all that memorable.
album finally seems to build a little momentum with "Hyperborean Light", which is kind of a dismal song that moves along at
a slower pace, with deeper vocals and a lot of repetition in the songwriting. Things shift during the latter half, taking
on a melancholy tone that is emphasized by the tormented howling that appears near the end.
The music flows right into
the next track, "After a Rain of Fire", which continues with the morose guitar riffs and miserable screams. As the song
progresses, it takes on a slightly more epic feeling. It goes without saying that the Viking-era Bathory influence is fairly
strong here, without sounding like a carbon-copy of any particular track. This is actually one of the highlights of the album,
with an introspective lead melody and more tortured shrieks carrying the song to its conclusion.
"Autumn Leaves" begins
with a mournful riff, maintaining the bleak vibe that characterized the previous tracks. While still mid-paced, this one is
a little more lively and features some guitar-work, later in the song, that seems to channel Quorthon's spirit fairly well.
The songwriting is pretty minimalist and primitive, utilizing only a couple riffs. In this case, repetition is probably a
good thing, as there is no real need to attempt to do too much with this.
The final original song is "Asatru", which
consists of more mid-paced riffs that hardly stray from the style employed throughout the rest of the record. However, after
a couple minutes, things speed up and brief tremolo melodies appear. While Nachtfalke made use of fast riffs in the past,
usually hearkening back to the old Moonblood material, this sounds completely different and bears no similarities to the previous
band of Occulta Mors. These sections are short and do very little in the grand scheme of things, as the rest is more in line
with the preceding songs.
This L.P. concludes with a cover of Bathory's "Call from the Grave", which seems like a strange
choice. Up until this point, Nachtfalke had only covered songs from the band's Viking-era, while this one is taken from Under the Sign of the Black Mark. However, it is still a mid-paced song, so there is some
level of consistency. It does not fit all that well with the rest of the material, though this record is plagued by a bit
Wotan's Return is kind of lackluster, with only three or
four decent songs to its credit. The two cover songs, as well as the overall arrangement of the tracks, do very little to
help this haphazard endeavour. Occulta Mors should have put more effort into writing original material and structuring the
record in such a way as to really get the most out of his compositions. This may still be pleasing to Nachtfalke fans, but
it is kind of disappointing considering the length of time since the last record, as well as the fact that the bulk of the
album seems like filler. Give it a chance, but do not let your expectations rise too high.
(21 Mar. 2012)