Monday, November 7, 2011

Nachtfalke - 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.

"As 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.

"Calm Before the Storm" is another acoustic interlude, which does little to add to the flow of the album and does not have much character, really.

"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 re-worked, somehow.

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 around.