Nachtgeschrei - Am rande der welt 3/5

Reviewed: 12-18-09


1. Fiur
2. Muspilli
3. Herz aus stein
4. Fernweh
5. Niob
6. Lauf!
7. Windfahrt
8. Nur ein kleines stuck vom himmel
9. Wahrheit
10. Der totmacher
11. Glut in euren augen

One of the paths less trodden during folk metal’s rapid expansion has been the one forged by the so-called German medieval rock bands like Subway to Sally and In Extremo in the early to mid 90s. While the reverberations of the fiddle-assisted thrash of Skyclad and Bathory’s epic, viking-themed bleakness would be felt across the metal world, the bagpipe-fuelled sound of the medieval rock bands to this day remains for the most part within Germany’s borders.

Nachtgeschrei are a fairly new band to take a stab at this style, and are no exception to the rule, hailing from deepest, darkest Hesse. Less outlandish than some of the bands that they share a playing field with, they have only 2 traditional instrumentalists in their ranks - Dominik Stephan on bagpipes and flutes and Joachim Penc on accordian and hurdy-gurdy - with some of the more fanciful stuff like lutes, shawms and harps falling by the wayside.

The pipes lead the way, accompanied by generous use of chiming acoustic guitars and the lilting vocals of Holger Franz to craft a suitably wistful atmosphere, shifting between harder-hitting metal rhythms and softer, melodic rock songs. Lead guitar, as always with this style, is at a premium, with Stephan very much the lead musician.

Unlike, for another recent example, Italy’s Folk Stone though, the bagpipes are not intrusively overstated, and though he they are a more or less constant presence are not always front and centre and avoid becoming insufferable by providing more subtle background arrangements. The lack of lead guitar is also less desperately noticeable than on Folk Stone’s debut CD and reflects the more refined style of writing of Nachtgeschrei.

What holds ‘Am rande der welt’ back is that, for all the colourful melodies and the authentic, organic vibe the band have struck, the individual songs on the whole just do not stick. It may just be that I can’t get past the language barrier (and shame on me if that is the case), but most of the songs musically just don’t do enough to be at all prominent from one another.

There is however a strong run of tracks from 4th to 6th that stand out somewhat and give a good picture of the heavier and softer styles Nachtgeschrei jump between. “Fernweh” is a soft, acoustic-reliant rock song regularly punctuated by a masterful bagpipe melody and guided mostly by Franz’s bittersweet vocals. “Niob” on the other is a heavier, energetic and undoubtedly metal song with more of a ‘jigging’ rhythm and sonorous pipe playing that gets the best out of the instrument in regard to this type of music. The last of this trilogy, “Lauf!” is a bit less memorable than the 2 songs that it follows, but sways between softer verses and heavier sections to bridge the gap between the rock and metal aspects of their sound. This is something Nachtgeschrei generally manage quite well on the whole, and they have avoided any awkward and obvious stylistics leaps that could interrupt the flow of the CD.

The rest of ‘Am rande der welt’ easily holds its own and is a pleasant listen, but there aren’t really any other songs that leap out and make a name for themselves. It makes for quite pleasant background music and is definitely a bit different to the more usual variants of folk metal cluttering up the market these days, but doesn’t really do enough to demand a great deal of attention.




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