The return of Vratyas Vakyas with his now more than 20-year old project Falkenbach unquestionably sanctions who is the true repository of the folk viking black verb, raising the bar to a level hardly reached by other competitors. Asa comes two years after a work like Tiurida that, while not at all despicable, made one regret at the level of inspiration Heralding – The Fireblade, regaining by magic that the musician pours out in full measure on this occasion. Vaer Stjernar Vaerdan, with its evocative melodies, introduces us into the magical world of Falkenbach by providing the immediate feeling that the record will hold for us in its flow not a few satisfactions: and, in fact, the subsequent Wulfarweijd could be used as a sonic support to describe better than many words the meaning of the term epic. To compose two songs of such a level a substantial number of musicians would sell to the devil not only their own souls but also those of their closest family members and friends, but Vratyas does not loosen his grip by placing third on the setlist a folk gem entitled Mijn Laezt Wourd, an excellent prelude to the black rant Bronzen Embrace, which, as difficult as it may seem, ranks a step above the previous tracks still, thanks to totally engaging guitar melodies. The alternation between folk and other black tracks is followed with some regularity, but this one hint of predictability is completely erased by the astounding beauty of the music. At this point it is in fact up to the single Eweroun to re-immerse Asa in dreamy atmospheres, delineated by the stentorian clean vocals of the Düsseldorf musician. There is, really, not a single track of this masterpiece that does not deserve to be mentioned or described, even if only briefly: thus, if I Nattens Stilta stands out as the darkest track of the lot, where, however, the arrangement work of the keyboards makes a complete difference, giving it an absolute solemnity capable of giving emotions and shivers in profusion, Bluot Fuër Bluot brings us back to the always welcome atmospheres of the opening track. The album’s finale is entrusted to the final Stikke Wound / Ufirstanan Folk pairing: the former is the manifesto of what epic black metal is in 2013 , with a guitar capable of weaving harmonies of rare beauty, while the latter closes the album by once again marrying the focus on the folk side of Vratyas Vakyas’ songwriting by giving us what, in the standard Asa version, would be the last gem. In fact, those who wanted to make a risk-free investment could opt for the luxurious limited-edition format (2,000 copies) that also features an extra CD with four bonus tracks, two of them previously unreleased and presumed rejects from the standard version, which would quietly be the driving tracks on the albums of a few hundred other bands. Falkenbach is a name that transcends genres and with Asa gives forty minutes of pure musical poetry, not only in its more melodic and folk passages, but also when its expression takes on the gory tones of black metal; barring miracles (always welcome, of course) in the last two months, for yours truly album of the year.

2013 – Prophecy Productions