Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Nachtfalke - Doomed to Die (2002)

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 in sorrow.

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.