In light of my review for Nicolas Winding Refn’s film Valhalla Rising, I’ve been listening to Viking pagan metal constantly. Falkenbach emerge as one of the top contenders in the ever-growing German pagan metal scene. Their 2003 release Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty is one of the subgenre’s greatest offerings. It’s forty or so minutes of soaring Germanic vocals juxtaposed with melodic bliss and a feeling of northern frigidity and heartwarming valour. It’s not the type of soundtrack you’d want to listen to when watching Valhalla Rising, mind you. While its sublime beauty is evocative of the cinematography of Refn’s film, the music is very much romanticized and glorifying the era of the pagans.
The characters of Valhalla Rising are set upon a course which will inevitably lead to their destruction. The pagan beliefs and the Christian ideals of the warriors are futile against the organized chaos of the Native Canadians. Ok Nefna Tysvar Ty glorifies an age from the past, but they’re so passionate and true to their form that you can almost visualize the battling Saxon tribes and taste the mead. Beowulf would revel in the beautiful music that Falkenbach creates, not only with this album, but with their other albums as well. Falkenbach have been constant with their exceptional creative output, and while I have not yet heard their latest release, I can only assume the best. Again, as a medievalist I find this type of music particularly moving. It’s the age of the Vikings recreated and reborn.
The pagan tradition at the roots of German culture lives on, and it’s wonderful to hear. This is not blasphemy, it’s history and it’s beautiful music. If you’re into metal, you could be Christian, pagan, Satanist, Hare Krishna, or whatever, this is excellent songwriting and it’s what music should be. Give Falkenbach a listen for less than an hour of your time and I guarantee you’ll enjoy it. Hell, you’ll probably want to put it on for a few more hours after listening to it. 9.3/10.